Story Behind the Song: Dierks Bentley, ‘Somewhere on a Beach’
In January of 2016, Dierks Bentley released “Somewhere on a Beach,” the first single from his eighth studio album, Black. The song, written by Michael Tyler, Jaron Boyer, Alexander Palmer, Dave Kuncio and Josh Mirenda, became Bentley’s 14th No. 1 single — and the first country hit for most of its writers. Below, Bentley, Tyler, Palmer and Kuncio share the story behind “Somewhere on a Beach,” and how the tune went from a pop song to a country smash.
Michael Tyler: We were writing for two days, and at the end of the second day, we had the idea for “Somewhere on a Beach.” We didn’t know how to write it or anything, so we were like, “Alright, let’s go hang out at the beach. We’ll talk about it and get some ideas.” Of course, we never got to the song, or any other song, that day.
Got back to Nashville. Two or three weeks later, I was done writing, and I went downstairs at peermusic [publishing company], and Josh and Jaron and Alex were writing upstairs. I went to say hi to them, to see if they wanted to go eat or whatever. They were like, “No, we’re going to hang back and work on this track.” I’m like, “Okay, let me hear it before I leave.” They played it for me. It was the “Somewhere on a Beach” guitar loop, and it was 808 kicks and hi-hats all over the place. It was super cool. I was just thinking, “How can I get in on this?”
Dave Kuncio: I had a guitar riff that I was jamming on one day. I started the track to it, and it was kind of hip-hop driven. Alex and I had been working a lot together, so we had a session one day, and after we wrapped up, I was like, “Let me play you this idea I started.” So I played him the track.
Alexander Palmer: It was great … He started building drums around it, he added a bridge. The demo track was pretty much done that day, and he was like, “Can I take this to Nashville next week?” and I was like, “Absolutely,” because I didn’t even think it was a country idea. We do a lot of hip-hop stuff.
Dierks Bentley: When I got the song, I saw the title, and it isn’t something I necessarily would gravitate towards right away, but when I listened to the intangible quality of the song, and the way that it all comes together, it’s fun and interesting and has some edge to it.
I feel like it was new territory for me as a singer. Just tackling that song, it was really challenging. The demo’s a lot higher; the person was singing in a much higher key than I was. It has this — more of a city delivery to the cadence to the lyrics … It was more of a pop track.
It took a while. At first, we kind of matched the tracks … We came back, and we started stripping everything out. We said, “Let’s just try to make the verses sound really vinyl-y … kind of classic sounding, and juxtapose this against the more urban delivery of the lyrics.”
We happened on a sound. I sang it a lot of times to make it feel like my own. I really liked the demo; I thought the demo was great. It wasn’t me, but I really liked the demo a lot … We wrangled it in to make it mine; it feels like mine now.
I can’t imagine my career without this song. It’s such a big part of my show, and a big part of the night for us every night. “Somewhere on a Beach” has been a game-changer. I’m so thankful for those guys.
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