Story Behind the Song: Jeremy Ivey, ‘Diamonds Back to Coal’
A longtime musician and songwriter who has spent much of his recent years as a guitarist and collaborator for his wife, Americana and country star Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey stepped into the spotlight in his own right in 2019 with the release of his studio debut, The Dream and the Dreamer. Below, Ivey recalls the process of writing one of that project's songs, "Diamonds Back to Coal," and shares the difference between his songwriting process for his own songs and the process when he writes for others, including Price.
I was listening to a Fats Domino song [called "I'm Walkin'"] that was like, "I'm walkin', da da da / I'm talkin', da da da ..." That was kind of what started it -- like, "I'm walkin'," you know? It was the most generic way to start any song. But you can get specific in your genericness.
I was just kinda digging that Fats Domino song, so I just started writing the words, and it really came pretty fast. I think I showed it to Margo about 20 minutes later. I didn't overthink it or anything. I was thinking about things that were happening in the world, but mostly, I was just thinking about walking.
And when the chorus came, I didn't know what was gonna happen. I never really do. Speaking of which, with country songs -- and I've written a bunch of those -- you sit down with a line in mind, like, a phrase. Like, when I helped [Price] write that song, "Weakness," I had that phrase in mind: "Sometimes my weakness is stronger than me." That's a country song. But when I write on my own, when I get to the chorus, there's a time when there's gonna be a line, and I never know what's gonna happen.
That danger is kind of nice, because it's almost like a creative panic that happens. Like, "What are you gonna say? What rhymes with 'role'? 'Who's gonna play that role,' what rhymes with that?" I just brainstorm panic attack. And then the line "Diamonds back to coal" came. So that's, I guess, how that happened.