Montgomery Gentry, ‘Back When I Knew It All’ – Lyrics Uncovered
Montgomery Gentry‘s 2008 chart-topping hit ‘Back When I Knew It All’ is one of those tunes that will hit home for the listener no matter their age or where they’re from. The song is a reflection of experiences and the many lessons one learns after a rebellious youth.
The song was penned by singer-songwriter Trent Willmon, along with Gary Hannan and Phil O’Donnell.
“I had gone over to hang out with my friend, [former professional bull rider] Justin McBride,” Willmon tells Taste of Country. “He was in town, and I had gone over to hang out with him to have a drink at [Nashville bar] Losers. While I was there, I ran into Gary Hannan. I had told him we were writing for my next record, and he invited me to come write with he and Phil O’Donnell the following day.”
“Anyone who’s ever hung out with Justin knows that the next morning may be a little rough,” Willmon continues with a smile. “By the time I got to the writing session, Gary and Phil had already started the idea for ‘Back When I Knew It All.’”
Willmon helped the writers with the song’s opening verse, remembering back on his own teen years … back when he thought he knew it all.
“At the ripe ol’ age of 19 / I bought a short-bed pick-up-chick machine / Life ran on beer and gasoline / A half a lap ahead of the law / I had a fake ID that got me into Tuffy’s / ‘Love’ was a word I used to get lucky / Was a big time spender with that plastic money / Back when I knew it all,” the duo sings in the first verse.
“I used to have a short-bed pick-up-chick machine,” Willmon says. “It was one of those situations where I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and got to contribute a few words to a great song with two great writers.”
Though it was written in 2007, Willmon says the song has more meaning to him now than when he, Gary and Phil wrote it — particularly the song’s chorus:
“Back when the world was flat / And Mom and Daddy didn’t have a clue / That was back / Back when a pitcher of beer / And a couple shots made me bulletproof / Back when ‘God’ was a name I used in vain / To get a point across when I got ticked off / Lord, I’m learning so much more than / Back when I knew it all.”
“Now that I have my 13-year-old daughter living with me, that line ‘Mom and Daddy didn’t have a clue’ really hits home,” notes Willmon. “I also love that line in the bridge, ‘I’ve done some growing up and I’m still growing up’ … I think we never stop learning and growing. Once we think we have it figured out, life comes along and hands you a little dosage.”
‘Back When I Knew It All’ went on to become the title track of Montgomery Gentry’s sixth studio album and was released as its first single. The tune hit the top of the charts in July 2008, marking the duo’s fourth No. 1 hit.
Last year, Willmon released his latest album, ‘Little Ol’ Café.’ The album is available through iTunes as well as the singer’s website.
Watch Montgomery Gentry Perform ‘Back When I Knew It All’ Live