Story Behind the Song: Jake Owen, ‘Alone With You’
Jake Owen released “Alone With You,” written by Shane McAnally, Catt Gravitt and JT Harding, in October of 2011, as the second single from his Barefoot Blue Jean Night album. The song became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and landed just outside the Top 40 on the Hot 100 (No. 41); it has also been certified platinum.
As the song’s writers tell The Boot, listeners wouldn’t know the original inspiration for the tune by listening to the final version — nor would they necessarily guess that many in Music City envisioned the song for a female act.
Shane McAnally: I had just read a book called Running With Scissors [by Augusten Burroughs]. I thought that would be a cool song lyric and that it would be a metaphor for being in a relationship that was bad for you. Ultimately, we wrote the line “You’ve got me running with scissors down the hall / And I know it could kill me if I fall.” We ended up with a different hook line in “I can’t be alone with you.”
When Jake went in to put his final vocal on the track, he didn’t feel like that line was true to who he was and wasn’t comfortable singing it. So JT, Catt and I came up with a few options that cleared up the metaphor and sounded a little more believable, the best being “You’ve got me out on the edge every time you call / And I know it would kill me if I fall.” I think Jake made the right choice. He sings it with such conviction that the line is even more powerful than before. It’s just ironic that the line we based the whole song on is the line that got “cut.” No pun intended.
Sometimes, you do have to lose a great or overly clever line in the best interest of the song. The song is king. We just try not to get in the way of the story. Luckily, Jake’s instincts saved us from overwriting a story that was simple and needed to stay that way.
JT Harding: Two things stand out to me about writing “Alone With You.” First, the three of us got together, and Shane started playing the guitar intro just like you hear it now on the radio. It sounded so cool and yet sad at the same time. I started singing words off the top of my head, and lyrics literally gushed out about a romantic mess I had gotten myself into. Shane jumped right in with great words about his own past messes. [Laughs]
And second, I clearly recall when we thought the song was finished, Catt said she felt we were tiptoeing around the sexiness of the song’s situation. She literally stood up and loudly said, “I’m a woman! I want to feel this!” More detailed lyrics emerged like, “Don’t put your hand up my shirt and tell me it’s okay.” When that was written, I knew we had something special.
Around Nashville, some people thought a girl should sing this song, but I knew if a dude sang it, it would be huge because it’s a bit vulnerable. Shane was writing songs with Jake, and they talked about “Alone With You,” and Jake decided to cut it. I couldn’t be happier. Jake and his producers Joey Moi and Rodney Clawson knocked it out of the park.
Catt Gravitt: It should be illegal to have this much fun in a writing appointment! I remember laughing so hard with JT and Shane and loving what we had when we walked out of the room.
Fast forward: I remember being on an airplane and walking down the aisle and seeing Blake Shelton‘s tour manager, and Jake Owen was sitting next to him, and he introduced me. Jake said, “Would you like to hear how your song turned out?” Sometimes we write a song, it gets recorded, and we don’t get to hear it until it’s on the shelf at Target or Walmart. But what a fun way to hear it — 30,000 feet in the air on Jake’s computer! It was amazing, and he’s a sweetheart.
This story was originally written by Lorie Hollabaugh, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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