Cole Swindell's homage to Jo Dee Messina, "She Had Me at Heads Carolina," was so successful that it was country music's only five-consecutive week chart-topper in 2022. The song was Swindell's fastest-rising hit of his career and his 12th No. 1 song.
The song was inspired by Messina's "Heads Carolina, Tails California." Now, it's getting a new life.
"Did y'all really think we were gonna leave you hanging without releasing a version of this song w/ @jodeemessina?!?" he wrote on Instagram Monday. "Such a full circle moment for this here 90's Country fan… the "She Had Me At Heads Carolina" Remix is OUT NOW! 🪙"
Swindell wrote the song with Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley. While they got Messina's permission to do the song – she wasn't a part of the recording until now.
"It was the weirdest, coolest process I've ever been involved with," Swindell told People of writing "She Had Me At Heads Carolina."
The Georgia native grew up listening to Messina's hit, and the song transports him to carefree days in his hometown. Swindell had never put a new spin on a classic before, and when he got the idea, he was intrigued. He knew it could go either way – be a disgrace or make the entire album. "She Had Me At Heads Carolina" is from Swindell's current "Stereotype" album – and it made the album.
"When me and Thomas Rhett were talking about it, we both knew it would be a huge idea, but we had to write it right. You can't mess up a classic hit like that," Swindell told People, adding that "She Had Me At Heads Carolina" was supposed to be a duet for him to sing with Thomas Rhett.
The sing-along favorite is inspired by a girl singing karaoke in a bar. Originally, Rhett was going to be Swindell's wingman in the song. Swindell was uncomfortable with the idea because his friend is married with children. He wanted to write the best angle they had and was happy they did.
The songwriters played Swindell's "She Had Me At Heads Carolina" for Messina, and when she texted to say she liked it, Swindell said, "We were all kinda freaking out."
Swindell is nominated for two CMA Award nominations for Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year with Lainey Wilson for his multi-week No. 1 duet single "Never Say Never." The CMA Awards are this Wednesday, but Swindell added another career milestone to his list last week. He headlined two sold-out shows at Ryman Auditorium.
Before the shows, Warner Music Nashville surprised Swindell with the news several of his songs and albums had received RIAA® certifications, including two multi-week No. 1 hits from his current album "Stereotype." "She Had Me At Heads Carolina" and "Single Saturday Night," both from "Stereotype," were certified platinum. Other recognitions included "Break Up In The End" (2x Platinum), "You Should Be Here" (3x Platinum), his sophomore project You "Should Be Here" (Platinum) and his third studio album "All of It" (Gold).