Keith Urban Got Permission From Merle Haggard’s Family for New Single, ‘Coming Home’
Haggard earns a songwriting credit on Urban's new song, which is a duet with pop star Julia Michaels. Urban has come up with a very progressive-sounding track even by his own recent standards, but he keeps it anchored in country music's tradition by employing the opening guitar riff to Haggard's "Mama Tried" in the music, which otherwise consists of an up-tempo pop-country confection that will once again push the boundaries of country radio.
The single from Urban's upcoming Graffiti U album began from Haggard's original, Urban explains in a press release. In addition to Urban and Haggard, J.R. Rotem, Michaels and Nicolle Galyon all receive writing credits on the song, which Rotem and Urban co-produced.
"'Coming Home' started with an idea I had of using the intro of one of my favorite Haggard songs, 'Mama Tried,' to build an entirely new song around it. Then, I took the idea to J.R. Rotem and he put some chords around it," Urban says. "I jotted down the first words that the music made me feel, jumped on a mic and sang the chorus."
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"Hearing that rolling Haggard guitar lick sparked memories of my childhood — and my dream to come to America," Urban adds. "I knew right then the story of the song was about the struggles of being in a city where your dreams have brought you, but far from your home — wherever, whomever and whatever that is for each of us."
Michaels is best known for her worldwide hit, "Issues." She also made a key contribution to "Coming Home" as a writer.
"Julia’s writing contribution extended into the idea of the need to want to physically be home. She summed up the whole story in one sentence: 'Yeah, I know it’s only one call away, but it’s not the same,'" Urban says. "For me, that simple phrase said so much, especially when she sang it!"
Though he gave Haggard a writing credit, he wanted to make sure the legend's wife and son were okay with his work.
"I called Theresa Haggard and Ben Haggard to play them what we’d been working on," he adds. "It was important to me to have their blessing — and I’m so grateful that they love the song."
Urban has not yet announced a release date for Graffiti U. He is among the performers announced for the 2018 ACM Awards, which are set to broadcast live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 15 at 8PM ET on CBS.
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