Having one of your songs hit the top spot on the charts is what so many country singers and songwriters dream about. And for a few of them, that dream comes true, over and over and over again.
Like it has for Lee Brice, whose current single “Rumor” is the No. 1 song in the country. He wrote the song — a story about finally giving into temptation with someone you already love — with Nashville hitmakers Ashley Gorley and Kyle Jacobs.
Brice and I sat down on his tour bus before his sold-out Chicago show on Thursday night (Oct. 17) to talk about that feeling: the first time it happened and the last time it happened.
CMT.com: Can you describe for me what it feels like to have a No. 1 song?
Brice: Really good. You work your whole life for your first No. 1, so when you get there for the first time, that is a happy, happy feeling. There’s like this weird thing, where you just want a song to move up one more spot until it’s at the top. Being able to say that you got to the top of the charts is the goal when you start out. So after all those years, that was a great feeling.
And for you, that happened in 2011 with “A Woman Like You.” So about four years after your debut single “She Ain’t Right.” Is that timing about what you thought it would be?
Well by the time I had that first No. 1, I’d already been working so hard and had had so many songs on the radio. And even though it didn’t make it to the top spot, “Love Like Crazy” was a huge hit for me. It was the song of the year on radio with the longest chart run, but it only went to like No. 2.
It kind of sounds like there are different ways to define “hit song,” then. Does it feel different to have “Rumor” go to No. 1 than it did when it happened eight years ago?
I think, even in some ways, it feels better now. Because this is not easy. Being out here doing this year after year, playing shows and keep having songs on the radio. Anyone who has song after song go No. 1 — over a long period of time — is working their butt off. They’re figuring out ways to be relevant. This all takes a lot of effort. So after all this time, to still have a No. 1 feels more gratifying. I feel like I’m here now, but I’ve been here before, and I can still be here years from now. I can keep going.
When you say year after year, you sound like you’ve been at this a while. What do you consider the official start of your music career?
When I signed at Curb in 2001. I’d already been writing songs my whole life. But then after I signed with them, I was making my first album for six years. At that time, it just was a long process. That was an old-school way of doing things.
Does it surprise you that your last few songs didn’t make it to the top?
“Drinking Class” was last time. And obviously, we’ve had hits over the past four years. But to be back in that top spot again is just such a great feeling. And this one song surpasses all the others. I can see it on the faces of the people at my shows. “Rumor” really did something different for us. I think it’s our biggest song to date.
What makes you say that?
From the very beginning, it just sounded classic, you know? To have a song that’ll be around forever? That’s what I’ve always wanted. That’s what we all want. Whether I’m the writer or not. Even when I was writing “Rumor,” I knew. I knew that if it was a hit, it was gonna be a big one.
After you land there, at the top, do you feel more pressure to do the same on the follow-up single?
We’ll see. I’m releasing a song called “One of Them Girls” in January. When I started making the new album, me and my producers had three songs we all loved. And we had it all mapped out to record them. But the night before we went into the studio, I wrote another song. I sent it to my co-producers at 4:00 in the morning when I’d finished it. They were like, “Damn. We have to cut this song.” So by 10:00, six hours after I’d finished writing it, we had it recorded. It has the potential to be my next No. 1.
Please enjoy this video playlist of all of Brice’s No. 1 songs, in chronological order: