Story Behind the Song: Thompson Square, ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not’
Husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square (Keifer and Shawna Thompson) earned their first No. 1 hit in April of 2011 with "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not." The song was released in July of 2010 as the second single from their self-titled debut album and has been certified double platinum; it also earned them two Grammy Awards nominations. Below, the co-writers of "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," David Lee Murphy and Jim Collins -- who also wrote Jason Aldean's "Big Green Tractor" -- tell The Boot about the day they wrote this breakthrough hit.
Murphy: It wasn't a "riding around on my tractor idea" [laughs], but you just get lucky sometimes, and an idea just falls out, and you're fortunate to be there. That's what happened the day we wrote this song. They come in strange ways sometimes. It's never the same way twice.
Collins: The hardest part for me is finding an idea that you haven't heard before. Or if it's a title that you've heard before, you've gotta find a new angle. So you try to figure out how everybody else would write it, and then you write it another way! [laughs]
It took us a couple of days to write this song, and we spent most of the day just trying to find an idea that was even interesting, because we write together so much during the week. Then David finally came up with the line "Are you gonna kiss me or not?" I said, "Are we gonna do this or not?" Then I grabbed my guitar and started singing, "We were sittin' up there on your mama's roof / Talkin' 'bout everything under the moon." From there, we just let it take us where it wanted to go.
Murphy: The rest of the verses just fell out after that. We had a lot of fun with it. I thought one of the coolest lines we came up with was "It was the best dang kiss that I'd ever had / Except for that long one after that." I remember thinking that was such a cool line!
When I'm writing, I draw from old stuff, personally. So every time I write a song like this, I always go back in my head to the old stuff, things that I did when I was younger.
Collins: As we were coming up with our lyrics, we could see the movie in our head, what we were writing about, and then painted that picture, best we could. A lot of times, you can paint the picture but not get the emotion in there. You get so clever with pictures, you forget what the meaning of the song is. But the whole movie was playing out as we were going with this song. Originally, in my head, I didn't think they were gonna get married, but the song just kind of felt like it needed to go that way. And boy, I'm glad we went with it! [laughs]
Murphy: We were both excited about this song, after writing it. It was the only song we wrote that day. We were so happy. Jim and I wrote "Big Green Tractor" together, and when you write those songs, you go home that day, and you go, "Wow, that's a hit!" When you write every day, it's fun ... but you don't write a good song every day.
Collins: When you're writing songs five days a week, it's really a matter of just keeping your pencil sharp. Because you write a lot of songs that do nothing and there's nothing to them. But what it does is it keeps you sharp. So when you do get an idea like "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," you know what to do.
We got real lucky with Thompson Square. They're husband and wife, and it was kind of their story -- how they fell in love, even though I don't know if it was exactly up on the roof! [laughs] But it was a love story, and they got hold of it. When we wrote it, I thought it was a good song. But when I heard their record, the way they cut it, I thought, "Man! This could be a hit!"
This story was originally written by Marianne Horner, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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