David Ball, ‘Thinkin’ Problem’ — Story Behind the Lyrics
David Ball tells The Boot about 'Thinkin' Problem,' which he co-wrote with Allen Shamblin. The song would not only go on to become a smash hit for David in 1994, peaking at No. 2, it also earned him a Grammy nomination.
This is a barroom song, and I came up through the clubs. The song was written in stages, over a period of time. Allen Shamblin and I were both signed to a small publishing company in Nashville when we first came to town, and we were supposed to show up everyday at 10:00 AM and write songs. We didn't really write that much together, but one morning Allen and I were both there at the office. We were just sitting in our little room and Allen always gets right to the heart of a song. He asks me, "What would you think about a song called, 'Thinkin' Problem?'" And I said, "Well, does it kind of go something like this?" And we put together the chorus. Then sitting there right across from me, Allen just knocks out that first verse: "I wake up and right away, her name is on my lips / Once the memories start to flow, I can't stop with just one sip."
At the time, we didn't know what we were really doing -- which is a great way to write songs, actually, when you don't know what you're doing! So the chorus was a little convoluted, and then about six months went by. But I always loved the idea of this song, and I loved that first verse. So I sat down six months or so later, and wrote a second verse and straightened the chorus out a little. I was playing with a little band in Texas at the time, and it was on the bandstand that the song just finished itself. That intro thing actually happened on the bandstand -- I extended the timing twice as much. I dragged out the, "Yes, I admi-i-i-t ... !" Whereas when we wrote it, it was just a short, "Yes, I admit, I've got a thinkin' problem ... '
So the song all seemed to come together on the bandstand. I always thought it would be a hit record, if I ever got a chance to record it. So when the chance to record it came along about four years later, I had this song ready to go!