Lyrics Uncovered: Garth Brooks, ‘Ask Me How I Know’
Garth Brooks is back at country radio with a huge ballad, and the “Ask Me How I Know” lyrics are a perfect fit for the superstar’s powerfully emotional delivery.
Songwriter Mitch Rossell wrote the song in November of 2015, and unlike most songs coming out of Nashville, it is his sole work, not the product of a collaboration. The song’s appeal is in its straightforward emotion, and Rossell tells Taste of Country that’s exactly how he wrote it.
“It came out straight from the soul and the heart of me always being that guy in relationships that had to have control and power, and wouldn’t let anybody close enough to ever really love somebody” he admits. “I pushed a couple of really good girls away because of that quality. It came from a very real place for me.”
He completed the song in a single day of writing, and since Rossell is a recording artist himself, he wasn’t thinking of any other artist when he wrote the “Ask Me How I Know” lyrics. But he’d he pitched some songs for Brooks’ 2014 comeback album, Man Against Machine, via e-mail, and though he didn’t score any cuts on that record, he was surprised to hear back from Brooks himself when the superstar sent him an email one day.
“I really didn’t even think he’d ever listen to them,” Rossell admits. “I thought he’d just have people who would listen, and maybe if one of them likes something, he might hear it. But he replied, and had the nicest things to say, and we started talking more and more and became friends, and started to hang out and write together.”
When Brooks was looking for songs for the follow-up, Gunslinger, Rossell wrote a few songs that he thought might be right for Brooks, and he sent them over along with “Ask Me How I Know.” That turned out to be the song that Brooks was interested in.
"It’s almost like you’re living something that’s too big for you to comprehend."
Not only did he land a cut with Brooks, Rossell ended up playing acoustic guitar on the recording session, an experience he admits was nerve-wracking, though he didn’t let on to Brooks.
“I just had to keep staring at the floor,” he relates with a laugh. “When I looked up and saw all of those guys around me and knew all the records they’d played on, I was like, ‘Oh gosh! Don’t suck.’ [Brooks] is standing there just belting this thing out, and I’m just cheesing the whole time, with this big, goofy smile on my face. It’s almost like you’re living something that’s too big for you to comprehend.”
Brooks has said that he’s like to see “Ask Me How I Know” do the same thing for Rossell that “More Than a Memory” did for Lee Brice years ago, and the “Ask Me How I Know” lyrics are perfect for Brooks’ vocal style. They address a man who is too stubborn to let a woman get close to him: “You’ll push her away ’cause that’s all you know how to do / And then she’ll leave and you won’t beg her not to go / Ask me how I know.”
Brooks is such a fan of Rossell that he was hesitant to take a potential hit away from him, but the singer-songwriter says it wasn’t a hard decision for him.
“It’s a no-brainer. I could have a huge career as an artist, have 20 No. 1s, whatever … having Garth Brooks cut one of my songs would still be at the top of my achievements.”
Brooks not only released “Ask Me How I Know” as the second single from Gunslinger, he even invited Rossell out on the road with him to open a string of sold-out shows in some of the biggest venues in the U.S., which has been yet another life-changing experience for the artist.
“I don’t get overwhelmed easily, but I’ve overwhelmed for a long period of time just getting to know him and spending time with him, being out on the tour and cutting the song, the compliments he’s given me … I think it’s gonna take five or 10 years for me to fully absorb it,” Rossell reflects.
The singer-songwriter has gotten his first-ever song at country radio from the biggest artist in the history of the format, and he is also getting to promote his own album, Raised by the Radio, in front of audiences that are exponentially larger than anything else he’s ever seen.
“I don’t know if there’s ever gonna be a word to try to explain the feeling … the overwhelming joy I felt and still feel,” he says. “When I came to town I had pretty big dreams and ambitions for myself, but I think it’s pretty rare that you end up living something that’s bigger than what your dreams were.”
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