Interview: Craig Campbell’s Process for Choosing a Song Was ‘Way Different’ With ‘See You Try’
Craig Campbell's newest single, "See You Try," is the first new release from the country singer since 2016's "Outskirts of Heaven." Although both songs will be included on his upcoming album, the two tracks couldn't be more different from each other, both in terms of subject matter and in terms of how they came to be written and recorded.
"They're way different, because "Outskirts of Heaven" was released super organically," Campbell tells The Boot. "When I wrote it, I thought it was a special song, and so I played it out loud a few times and realized I was right. There was different planning, different thought -- different everything -- going into those two songs."
The upcoming album will be the first Campbell releases with his current record label, Red Bow, and the singer says that the added level of involvement from the label has changed the way he writes songs. While "Outskirts of Heaven" came naturally, and solely from him, those origins aren't typical of the way his songs are created these days.
"It's been a lot different in terms of the bigger picture," Campbell explains. "They have people who are out there looking for songs for me. It's a long process. Which is good, because beforehand, putting songs together [for a record] was just like, 'Hey, lets go find a bunch of songs.' It wasn't as strenuous a process as it should have been."
While the rigorous song-selection process may be relatively new for Campbell, he has long been a prolific songwriter himself, and typically writes many of the songs on his albums. In 2014, Campbell had his first experience writing a song that another artist ended up cutting -- and not just any artist, either: Campbell's song "All-American Kid" landed in the lap of none other than Garth Brooks.
"It was a total surprise!" Campbell says of Brooks' decision to cut that song. Not only had Campbell not written it with the country icon in mind, but he didn't initially intend to send the song to anyone: "When I wrote that song, it was for me," he explains. "I didn't even know it was being pitched until I got the email saying Garth was interested in it. That was huge."
Due to the two-year gap between the release of "Outskirts of Heaven" and "See You Try," it's been a while since Campbell was able to play new music live. He says he's excited to test out his new material on an audience.
"I really want the focus to be on "See You Try," so I'm not planning to release a lot of new music right away, but I'm so excited to see the crowd's reaction," he says. "I haven't gotten much of a chance to test out the new music yet, except for one night at the Opry."
In the fall of 2017, Campbell celebrated his 50th performance at the Grand Ole Opry with a full-circle rendition of his 2013 hit "Keep Them Kisses Coming." In the spirit of that performance, Campbell reflected on the first time he ever took the Opry stage, in 2010.
"From what I can remember, I was so nervous and excited," he recalls. "It was the 85th anniversary of the Opry the day I did my debut. I remember stepping into that circle, and the first thing I said was, 'I made it.'
"The Opry was something I grew up knowing about, and loving, and having respect for, of course," he continues. "You've got to -- it's an institution. So that first time playing, that will always be special."