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Country

Dustin Lynch Talks New Song, Opening for Idol Garth Brooks, and How He Won Out Over Luke Bryan

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Kristin Luna

As Dustin Lynch puts the final touches on his third album, out later this year, he shared some new tunes with an intimate crowd Monday night at George Dickel Distillery and tales of how he came to record them.

“When you’re a newly signed artist, you think you’re the bomb,” he recalled of his early years after first signing with Broken Bow Records. “And then you wake up and realize there are 100 other bombs out there, and you’re left with the crumbs at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to songs so you better get to writing your own.”

Lynch, 32, wrote many of the tracks on his first two albums, but shared that as time passed, songwriters began to send him other cuts for consideration, songs like “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” that he got first dibs on over more senior country artists like Luke Bryan, for whom he was opening at the time.

“I was on tour with Luke and Little Big Town last year and heard ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone’ the night after they first listened to Taylor Swift’s ‘Better Man,’ and I thought that was a pretty good gauge as that’s my favorite song ever of theirs,” he says. “When I got that same reaction from Luke after he heard ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone,’ I knew I had to record it ASAP before anyone else did.”

Larry Busacca/ACM2015/Getty

Lynch, who is currently touring with Brad Paisley, said he almost ran his truck off the road when he heard the hook from the ballad co-written by Dustin Christensen and Chris Gelbuda. He also joked that his buddy Bryan, whom he describes as “one of my best friends in the world,” was not happy that he got the song because it was one he would have liked to record himself.

The country star performed his newest single “Small Town Boy” in addition to other fan favorites, such as “Seein’ Red” and “Where It’s At” (both requested by his niece Katie Grace Nichols), solo at the CMA week kickoff party at his hometown distillery, but he wrapped by covering a classic song from his ultimate hero: Garth Brooks.

“A few months ago, I got the pleasure of opening for Garth, only I couldn’t tell anybody. Do you know how hard it is to not tell anyone — even your parents — that you’re opening for your idol?” he said. “Then I realized later that they would have really liked to have come to the show, so Garth said, ‘Well, I guess you’ll just have to open for me again, then!’ So we’re working on a date for that to happen.”