Canaan Smith Honors Late Brother With New Song, ‘Bronco’ [LISTEN]
Smith, who is signed to Mercury Records, lost his brother -- affectionately referred to as "Nano" -- who was 16 at the time of his death, in a car accident. Smith was 12 when his brother passed away, and his entire family was completely shaken by the loss. About six months ago, Smith penned "Bronco" about the experience.
"It's definitely the best moment in the show," Smith tells The Boot about playing the song live. "That song is why I do music."
Why "Bronco"? His brother drove a Ford Bronco (with his nickname "Nano" on the license plate), and it's the first image that Smith says comes to mind when he thinks about him.
"It's why country music means so much to me, because I've heard songs like that before, like [Steve Wariner's] "Holes in the Floor of Heaven," [John Michael Montgomery's] "Letters From Home" -- songs like that ... are the ones that move me the most because they're real-life stories about real-life things -- tough times, loss, hurt and pain."
Smith says that he felt like "Bronco" was a gift when he wrote it. Though he admits that there's "no easy way to have a tribute for your brother and make it fit into a three-and-a-half-minute song," he feels deeply proud of the result. Additionally -- and maybe most importantly -- he thinks his brother would be proud, too.
"It's a cool thing, because people come up to me after the show and say, 'That song really spoke to me; I just lost somebody,' or, 'I'm going through a loss right now,' and to me, that's the biggest reward," Smith explains. "It's the kind of reward that will stay with you forever."
"Bronco" is full of imagery that's both beautiful and painful. "Crazy how a car makes a kid out of a kid," Smith sings as he recalls those carefree days when his brother was still alive. "It was freedom calling / Pulling you down that back road / It was our time flyin' / Hell of a ride in that Bronco."
The song also displays the grief the family still feels, with lines like, "Mama still puts flowers out by your grave," and, "Leah has a hard time thinkin' she's older than you."
"I remember when I turned 16 and a half, and I was older than Nathaniel for the first time," Smith says. "It was a really weird feeling ... a reminder of how fragile life really is."
Smith's debut EP dropped March 24 and features five songs, all of which will also be on his full-length debut album. That record is set to come out in June, though no specific release date has been announced.
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