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Chris Young on the Road to Recovery After June Kitchen Accident

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It’s been a long summer for Chris Young, who had surgery on his left hand in June after damaging tendons with a knife in a cooking accident.

“I can do almost everything now, but I’m about two months away from being able to play guitar,” he tells PEOPLE at a party celebrating his sixth No. 1 hit, “Who I Am with You.”

He is also keeping a safe distance from knives. “It’s still hard to cut meat, but there was a good-looking steak at backstage catering this summer,” jokes Young.

“I wanted it really bad but I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of everybody so I took it back to my bus, and was totally embarrassed when I was busted gripping the fork in my mouth to hold down the steak while I used my good hand to saw.”

Young, 29, said he’s grown from the experience, though.

“I’ve learned a lot in my life, but the big lesson is, ‘If a knife falls off the counter, jump back!'”

Another lesson the singer has learned? His instincts are pretty spot-on.

When Young was recording his current album, A.M., he knew something was missing.

“I needed a love song for this record. We had an ‘I love tequila’ song, but I needed something with more meaning,” said Young of the void that would come to be filled by “Who I Am with You.”

“As soon as I heard it, I called [music exec Rusty Gaston] and said, ‘Please don’t play this for anyone else! I want it!’ I love to sing love songs and audiences love to hear them. We’ve heard lots of stories from fans about this song and what it means to them.”

Young chatted about his latest smash at the Music Row bash, where he thanked writers Marv Green, Paul Jenkins and Jason Sellers – but Sellers turned the appreciation right back to Young.

“A lot of times your songs will get recorded and the singer doesn’t tear it up like you had hoped,” he said. “Chris is such an amazing singer, his voice is so unique, such a great instrument. He took this song and made it his own, made it better than it was.”

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