Lyrics Uncovered: Cole Swindell, ‘Middle of a Memory’
Cole Swindell's "Middle of a Memory" lyrics have taken his career in a very different direction, one that few artists of his generation are willing to attempt.
Swindell co-wrote the song with Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell, and they were initially working on a different song entirely the day they ended up writing it.
"We were sitting there working on this other song called 'Kiss,' which he ended up recording for his EP," Crowell recalls to Taste of Country, adding that the idea for the "Middle of a Memory" lyrics happened seemingly at random.
"I went to the bathroom, I came back from the bathroom, and they said this line, 'Left me in the middle of a melody.' They just sang me the verse and said, 'Hey, check out what we wrote while you were in the bathroom,' and I didn't understand them," he relates with a laugh.
"I said, 'Oh, I like that 'middle of a memory' line,' and they go, 'No, no, no, it's 'middle of a melody.' And then they looked at each other like, 'Middle of a memory, that's a good line!' Ashley grabbed a guitar, and he said, 'Oh, that's a whole 'nother song! What if there was another song called 'Middle of a Memory,' and it went like this?' And he kinda started playing the guitar part."
Nowadays there's not a ton of artists who can pull off songs like that.
"It was one of those divine moments where God says, 'I'm gonna distract you for a minute on another song,'" he adds with another laugh. "It's a good thing."
Crowell started creating a track around Gorley's musical idea, and the song came together very quickly, with a high degree of collaboration. "All three of us kinda sat there and came up with everything together on the spot right there," with some additional work to finish up during a subsequent session, he recalls.
The finished product is a slow ballad written closely to the title hook, centering around a lingering regret from a romantic spark that doesn't come to fruition.
"In the middle of a dance floor all alone / In the middle of an old school country song / Right when I was just about to lean on in / Why’d you have to go then, baby / In the middle of a glow of the neon light / It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives / Girl it ain’t right, no how you gonna leave me / Right in the middle of a memory," Swindell sings in the chorus of the "Middle of a Memory" lyrics.
Crowell says the original demo was close to the master recording Swindell ended up releasing, and he and Gorley were hopeful it would make the cut for Swindell's album.
"We realized those kinds of songs, nowadays there's not a ton of artists who can pull off songs like that. After writing it, Ashley and I were excited, because Cole is an artist who can put something like that out -- a slower kind of love song, in a sense -- and we're lucky that he's the artist who can do it," Crowell observes.
"He loves that '90s country thing. He comes from that, and you can clearly tell that he's influenced by that stuff, and he's not ashamed of it."
Released as the second single from Swindell's You Should Be Here album, "Middle of a Memory" further cements the new maturity he brought to the project. Its title song and first single became Swindell's fourth No. 1 hit, and "Middle of a Memory" has already followed it into the Top 10.
"He's killing it right now," Crowell says. "It's pretty amazing what he's been able to do."
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