By Kurt Wolff
Some songs can take a bit of time to really sink in and win over fans as well as the artists. That wasn’t the case, though, with “Mine Would Be You,” the No. 1 hit from Blake Shelton.
“You’d have to be a fool not to hear that as a great song,” said Scott Hendricks, who produced …Based on a True Story, the 2013 Shelton album on which “Mine Would Be You” first appeared.
After reaching the top of the country charts last year, “Mine Would Be You” has now been nominated for Song of the Year at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Award, which take place this Sunday (April 6). In addition, …Based on a True Story is nominated for Album of the Year and Shelton is up for both Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
“Mine Would Be You” was written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Deric Ruttan. And curiously, it isn’t Alexander and Harrington’s only ACM-nominated song this year — they were also two of the writers on Lee Brice‘s “I Drive Your Truck.”
As Alexander told Radio.com in a recent interview, writing songs from a male point of view is a relatively new exercise for her — and it one that appears to be working quite well. She and Harrington first attempted a male perspective with “I Drive Your Truck,” and the success of that song gave them a “boost” forward.
“It was so exciting that Connie and I had written all these years, and couldn’t get arrested, and with ‘I Drive Your Truck’ it was like we found the secret. ‘Oh, we need a guy in the room.’ It was exhilarating.”
So when it came to the writing session that would eventually produce “Mine Would Be You,” right away they brought in a male songwriter. In this case it was Deric Ruttan, who works with Harrington at THiS Music, the company she co-owns.
“Connie always has a wealth of great ideas,” Alexander explained. “I remember her just saying, ‘mine would be you,’ and Deric and I just looked at each other and said, ‘whoa whoa whoa.'”
And from there, Alexander said, they all “just started having a blast.” As they had done with “I Drive Your Truck,” they just “plowed through” a series of images and ideas. “‘Mine would be you,’ OK. Well, my favorite ‘blank.’ We would just go back and forth. My favorite sundae, my favorite game, my favorite drink, whatever … mine would be you. It got deeper and deeper, pretty much as a positive love song in a gritty way, that first day.”
But they didn’t finish it that first day. For their next session a couple weeks later, Alexander said she invited the group to her house — that way, she could be close to her newborn twins and they’d all be working in a casual environment.
“And that,” Alexander said, “is when the song took the twist to that negative last verse. I think having that perspective, getting away from the song, then coming back that evening, and having some wine, we started to go there. And it felt so right, to kind of complete the story.”
But even then, there was still one last twist to the writing of the song.
As they were cutting a work demo of what they had written, Ruttan sang a line about a “make up kiss,” but Alexander got a last minute idea. “I got this funny smirk on my face, and I thought, ‘make up sex.’ We had already put the whole thing down [as a demo], it was late, we’d been drinking, the food was ready. But I said ‘guys, I hate that we might have to do this again, but what about “make up sex“?’
Alexander and Shelton were already friends at that point, and as she told her fellow songwriters, “I said, ‘he would do it, he would love it. Trust me.’ I was adamant. They kind of laughed, and we put it down that way.”
Ultimately, said Alexander, that little detail — which adds a tiny, slightly provocative edge to the song — is “one of the reasons it grabbed everyone’s attention.”
“And it goes down as my favorite song I’ve written, for sure,” Alexander said. “The layers and the images of that song just haunt me.”
Related: See all 2014 ACM nominations
And Hendricks, based on his enthusiasm for the song, would not disagree.
“That is one of the best written songs I’ve ever recorded,” he told Radio.com. “You can’t find fault in that song in any way, shape or form in my opinion. When you get one of those pitched to you, it’s a ‘duh.’ There’s no arguing over it.”
The 49th annual ACM Awards air Sunday, April 6 at 8pm ET/PT on CBS.