Talking About Life, Self-Love, And ‘Songs About You’ With Brett Eldredge

Brett EldredgePhoto Credit: Warner Music Nashville

It’s always a great day when anyone says something truly meaningful, and that was the case today when we sat down with Warner Nashville recording artist Brett Eldredge to chat about his upcoming June 17 release, Songs About You. The LP shines a light on themes like fear and desire, a public struggle with anxiety and his newfound appreciation for self-acceptance with his typically beautiful vocals hitting all the right notes on the single and title track, “Songs About You”, as well as “Holy Water,” “Want That Back,” “Wait Up For Me,” and “I Feel Fine.” Here, our real talk with Eldredge, who holds seven country radio No. 1’s, nine Gold and Platinum-certified singles, twNo Gold-certified albums and multiple CMA, ACM and CMT Music nominations and wins.

Brett EldredgePhoto Credit: Cal & Aly
So we’re talking new album Songs About You. Who is the you in Songs About You?

I love to write these songs and tell these stories, but at the end of the day these songs are about you. The people that listen to it: that was a big that message for this song. It’s like, this song is about going through life. You hear a song, you think you’re over somebody for the longest time, then maybe five years later you hear this song and you’re immediately back with that person in your mind, and you’re like  ‘Damn, I thought I shook that.’ It’s kind of like a heartbreaker, but it’s kind of a groove, feel-good song, and it’s just a really special song. It really made sense that the title of the album is Songs About You and realize that these songs are really vulnerable and deep in this record to where I feel like a lot of people are gonna be able to take these songs and add them to their life and make it about them. That’s what I want to do.

A lot of this record is kind of also about you as well, correct?

I think it is about that in a way. I have found confidence in myself, that I’ve yet to find until the last few years. But really even making this over the last couple of years and I really, you know, really shone through in this music to where I think that I lot of people can find themselves in it in same way. So it’s like a self-discovery. In a lot of ways, it’s a confidence thing, and I want people to be able to find that and find their own land and where to take it in life and be there for themselves. So I think that’s a really powerful message that took me a long time to figure it out and I’m still figuring it out day by day, but I’ve gotten really great in that front and I hope that people find that as well for themselves.

How does one get there? Like how did you get there?

I think it’s all about showing up and going through the stuff that sucks and stuff that’s great, you know. It’s like I’m grateful for the things that I felt I was never going to make it through, but I did. You have to find a way to be grateful for those things even though it happens, so it couldn’t happen the other way ’cause you know it happened. I’m just grateful to be able to have made it this far and found the resilience and also the courage to show up every day and in the times where I could hardly even leave my tour bus because I was scared to go onstage, or putting too much pressure on myself, or having panic attacks or whatever it is. It’s like I could have given up then, and there are days where I didn’t want to show up, but I still did and I’m here and better for it, and I’m grateful for that. So, I think that’s what it’s all about.

As a performer what do you do when that kind of like feeling overtakes you. Do you have like something that you say to yourself, or a piece of music that you listen to?

I’ve learned a lot of tools here because it was so debilitating for a long time, I mean I’d be like almost passed out before I go onstage, I get short of breath and have these things. And then I would, like I said, I would sit in the back of my bus and wait till the show. And then, eventually, I was through a lot of therapy and through a lot of books and you know, you name it, just trying to work on myself. I started to figure out that instead of sitting in the back of my bus before a show, I do a dance party with the band and realize we’re here to have fun and we’re dancing with them, the craziest songs we can think of, and just enjoying the fact that we’re there in shaking off the nervous energy and realizing, ‘Oh I’m just here to play music.’ It’s play, not work — there’s always going to be little aspects of work, do a, you know, good job, but there’s also the reason that you’re there is ’cause you love it. I think finding the good balance in my life and getting back to loving what I do was the thing for me ’cause, you know, when you first start something that you love, you go in it, you know, you go into it blindly and just dive in fully, you know. And then you start to find parts of it you don’t love that earnest magic ’cause he thought they were at first and you’re going to have to relearn to get back to that kid you were in the beginning, and I think it’s just like me finding myself again in a way. That’s like peeling back the layers that life throws on you and being like, ‘I’m fine that those were there,’ but you know that that kid at heart is still right here —my inner child — when I would look at the world in such wonder and like Disney World. You can still find that it might not be exactly how you imagined it, but it’s like it’s still there.

Is there one song that does it for you, like something when you go back to your childhood? Do you have one that you’re like, ‘Alright, that instantly puts me in like the mood where I know I can get to the place that I need to be?’

I really like What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. I’m an old soul; I love just like something that makes me feel nostalgic, like I just love that feeling. So, when I hear What a Wonderful World, it always makes me smile because it makes me think of gratitude for the simple things in life. When you listen to that song in that way it’s like you know, it talks about, ‘I hear babies crying, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know, and I think to myself what a wonderful world.’ That’s so simple, it’s like oh you can be really annoyed by the baby crying on the plane or you can think the baby’s got a lot of life ahead of it, and it’s going to see a whole world that I haven’t got to seen and I have to see. I just love that, you know, life keeps growing and then I get to be a part of it and I’m here and here for the ride, so that one always brings me to a good place.

Do you ever play that during your shows?

I thought about actually covering it, I talked to my band other day and I thought about starting to play it since I play it before shows a lot. I played this like; I mean it’s got to be one of the best written songs ever, so I play it probably once a week just to kind of get myself in a good spot. I have like a playlist that I kind of have a lot of the feel-good music, you know.

Brett Eldredge
“Songs About You”

Photo Credit: Warner Music Nashville

Which of the songs in your new songs are gonna make people feel, and what are they going to make people feel?

Speaker 2: The first song is called Can’t Keep Up. I think we all imagine ourselves, sometimes you feel the pressure of like, ‘I gotta go do all these things and if I’m not, but I’m not like out, you know, being crazy then I’m not having fun.’ But, I Can’t Keep Up, it’s like this mentality of: I could stay in my comfort zone and stay in and, I love to stay in by the way, but like I could, you know, live my normal life stuff, which is beautiful at times but there’s also times where it keeps, it holds you back from a lot of living. And it can’t keep up like you in your mind, going out and getting life to every aspect you possibly can whatever that means, is like going after it, and that and raising hell and whatever the way that you raised hell. I don’t have to be partying in the way that you party, it’s like dancing when you don’t feel like dancing, then this really kind of getting that feel good, new life. So, I think that’s the first song on the record, so it really kicks off an amazing way.

There’s a song called Get Out Of My House, which is really cool. It’s about it’s about not giving a worry, or the trouble somebody is bringing on to you in your head. Not giving them the real estate in your mind to be able to try to affect you, you know, it’s like Get Out Of My House, like it’s about boundaries and it’s about, you know, being there for yourself. There are a couple songs I feel fine and also that kind of vibe, you know, standing up for yourself and being there for yourself. So, those two are really powerful in that front, so there’s a lot of self-discovery in that. Those are definitely lessons I’ve had to learn from the last record of this record and you can be the nice guy, but also be there and stand strong with what you believe in and all of that, and so those are powerful.

There’s a song called Where The Light Meets The Sea which is, it’s all about your kind of message of, sometimes you know, you leave this world, you know. It kind of deals with death in a way that it’s a beautiful way of like “we’re all looking for heaven and I hope heaven’s looking for me, I’m a dreamer and I’ve always believed in the place where the light meets the sea.” It’s just this idea of a song of like, of where I’m taking this live and where I’m finding myself and I’m I find myself in the place where light meets the sea. It can be about, you know, going and discovering yourself, it can be about death, that can be however you take it. How much I love that about songs is kind of having whatever the meaning, multiple meanings.

I guess one other song other than Songs About You, we talked about another song that I really love, is called Hideaway, and Hideaway is really stripped down. We actually reported it in Montana at a cabin, actually like on a ranch, and so we had all the cows, and the horses around, and snow everywhere, and it was the last song I wrote for the album. We recorded it by the fireplace with the guitar and a microphone and that was the album version, it was literally from the cabin. The rest of it was in the studio, but that song I recorded like we’re hiding away at a cabin. I went to sound just like that and it’s all about dropping everything, at least the idea of, ‘Hey, what if I just sold everything out today, wherever I am, I am alive.’ I think everybody has this feeling when they’re sitting and in their job sometimes, and it’s in the grind a little bit, you’re like ‘What if I sold everything out and I’d go just get in the car, getting this old wagon here I have, whatever it is, and I load it up and I go, and I start new, and I hideaway, and I built a house on the hill, you know, there’s a little house or whatever.’ It’s the idea of that’s, so cool, enchanting, and beautiful in a way, but also does mean you go on a trip for a few days in the weekend and you hideaway, and I think that, I think a lot of people have that thought and it really comes to life in this song, it’s pretty special.

How long have you actually considered doing that, for like for how many hours?

Oh, I’ve done that so many times, especially like when I was in a point in my career where I was overworking, where you know, we all get burnout, it’s like burnout, you know. I was touring so much that I couldn’t even enjoy ’cause I was just constantly putting pressure and constantly, you know, just never given myself anytime for anything. It’s like I’ve had to find a place in my life now where, I love music, that is my passion, it’s what I do for a job, but it’s also just fully my passion. But I also have to make personal life a major focus, every bit as much too ’cause you know, it only takes so long to do this ride of life, and yes it’s a huge part of who I am. So, you know, just going on a hike in the woods for the weekend or whatever too. So, I always try to remind myself that and I’ve had to learn that the hard way in some ways, but I’m glad I did.

When you’re touring does that kind of factor into your decision in any way, like the places that you really want to go, you want to be?

Yeah, I like to find places as like: ‘Well, do they have cool trails around this are? Oh, yeah, I’m definitely gonna play in there’ cause like if I can, you know, ’cause you get to a venue at 7:00 AM, you don’t play till 9 at night, so you have this whole day to think about your performance and you get overwhelmed or whatever. I mean that’s why I used to, I’m way better now ’cause I go on hikes and stuff. So to be able to take that time and use it for hikes, for fishing, you know, doing things that, you can only write on your bus for so long, or you can only do so much, and I go workout, what can I do in this place to see the beauty of it and find a new story and see something new and that’s a big factor where I play shows sometimes, for sure.

What are your few favorites?

I’m going to be in Chicago, soon, which is gonna be a lot of fun. I’m from Illinois, so to play there is always a magic experience and just my fans are incredible there ’cause that’s like where I started, kind of cut my teeth as I say, so that’s pretty cool. Then we’re going out to the West Coast which I love, we’re gonna be on California a lot, from Northern California all the way down to Southern California and we’re going to be out in Carolina, we’re going to be kind of all over. So there’s gonna be a lot of beautiful places to see, a lot of new places I’ve never played, new people to meet, new people to give high fives to, and sing songs to, and dig in and tell my story.

My last question is, what do you think is the greatest luxury in life and why?

I think the greatest luxury in life is your mindset. What’s the story I’m telling the world and am I proud of the person that I am or that I’m striving to be? The luxury is giving yourself the time to grow and to be the person you want to be, and realizing that there are things you wanna fix, but you’re already pretty great the way you are. I think I’m somebody that’s always tried to fix every little part of me, and I still do at times, but I think to be able to also tell myself, you know, I’m pretty great the way I am too. I would love to fix this, and I would love to sleep nine hours a night, or I get this, and maybe I can learn more things to be able to do that. But I’m also great how I am, and I’d love to be able to be more social, but I talked to a couple people last week and I did this week or whatever it is, being more gentle with myself. The luxury of giving yourself the time to be yourself and to grow is a beautiful thing.