Story Behind the Song: Steve Moakler, ‘Suitcase’
Steve Moakler wrote 10 of the 11 songs on his 2017 album Steel Town; the only song that he didn’t write is “Suitcase,” but it’s perhaps the one that resonates with him the most. Written by Thomas Rhett, Barry Dean and Luke Laird, the song struck a chord with Moakler, especially after he spent several months crossing the country in a Winnebago with his wife.
Below, Moakler shares with The Boot why he felt compelled to record “Suitcase,” include it on Steel Town and release it as a single.
It didn’t have to do with who wrote the song as much as what I was doing the first time I heard it: I had just gotten married, and my wife Gracie, she quit her job. She had a sales job that stressed her out. I was like, “You know what? Before we get used to you making money, why don’t you quit and pursue something you’re passionate about? I’ll figure out how we’re going to make some money.”
My vision was to go on this cross-country road trip in a camper. She had a little business she started, employing women from the Nashville Rescue Mission to make jewelry. So every night, we’d pull up in the truck, I’d set up a little stage with pallet wood and hang some Christmas lights on the camper and play a show, and she would sell my merchandise and sell her jewelry and get up for a few minutes and talk about what she was doing. We had a shoestring budget, and we were just chasing our dreams together, and that’s all we needed. I think it was one of the happiest times of my life.
While we were having that experience, I heard the demo of the song that Luke and Barry and Thomas had written, and it just became the soundtrack — you know how sometimes you go on a road trip and end up having “a song”? It was that. I wasn’t thinking, “I should cut this or anything;” I was just loving the song and having a really personal connection with it. And then when it came time to make the record, that song hadn’t been cut yet by anyone else. I started practicing my soundcheck with it and singing it. It just felt really natural to me, and those writers were kind enough to let me cut it.