For millions of Keith Urban’s fans, the first introduction to “The Fighter” – his duet with Carrie Underwood now soaring up the charts – came last May in a video that he and his wife, Nicole Kidman, released showing the couple singing along to the album track in the car.
Adorable? Of course. But now we know the couple was actually re-creating their personal history.
On Friday, Urban revealed that their first fragile days together, back in 2005, were the song’s inspiration.
“It was a very quick song to write because I literally just thought about Nic and I, and our relationship at the beginning and some of the things that we’d said,” Urban, 48, recalled. “And they all went into that song.”
Urban shared the anecdote in the midst of celebrating another hit, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” the fourth No. 1 single on his best-selling album, Ripcord. He joined songwriters Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey and Steven Lee Olsen at a Nashville club to pay tribute to his 22nd chart-topping single. The song also was nominated for two Grammys, and it recently received ACM nominations for both single record and song of the year.
If Urban had his wife to thank for “The Fighter,” he had Olsen, especially, to thank for “Blue.” The three songwriters actually penned the single for Olsen’s upcoming solo project, and he had explicitly told his publisher not to pitch it to other artists. Months later, when the publisher came to Olsen asking if he would make an exception, he started to say no – until he heard it was Urban who wanted to hear it.
During a press conference, Hillary Lindsey recalled Olsen’s exact directive: “The only person you can send it to is Keith Urban.”
“It is true,” Olsen confirmed.
When Urban heard Olsen sing “Blue” on the demo – he’s “a killer singer,” Urban says – it was love at first listen.
“It was just an immediate reaction I had to that song,” Urban said. “I loved the lyric, the sentiment, the melody – everything about it. It was beautiful.”
But how does Urban know when it’s a song just for him? “It’s a feeling I have when I hear a song,” he said. “I feel like [I’m] meeting a relative I didn’t know I was related to. … There’s that feeling of familiarity with the song immediately.”
A grateful Urban eventually learned the very personal reason that Olsen made the exception: It turns out that Urban inspired Olsen to come to Nashville 11 years ago to start his music career.
In an emotional speech during the presentation of plaques, the 31-year-old singer/songwriter told of growing up in Canada with country music aspirations, but “I wasn’t a hat act, and I didn’t have a very country voice,” he said. Then one day, he was watching the CMT network, and he saw a shaggy-haired, bell-bottomed Australian in a country music video singing “Somebody Like You.”
“And it made me realize I didn’t have to be anything I wasn’t,” Olsen tearfully recalled, and that “gave me the courage to move to Nashville. … Keith gave me the wind the first time to move here, and here it is again with this song.”
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” is Olsen’s first No. 1 song.