Rodney Atkins Celebrates the ‘Back Road’ That Took Him to No. 1
On Monday evening (October 3), Rodney Atkins and the two men responsible for his latest chart-topping hit -- Rhett Akins and Luke Laird -- gathered at BMI headquarters in downtown Nashville, where they were honored with trophies and plaques marking their latest career success, 'Take a Back Road.'
While their guests mingled on the rooftop of the building, enjoying chicken and steak fajitas and an array of Mexican side dishes, Atkins met with the press to talk about the reason for the party: his sixth chart-topping hit.
"This is awesome ... not only has it been so long, it's been so long since we've had an album out," Atkins told Taste of Country, referencing having a two-week No. 1 single just weeks prior to the release of his latest studio album of the same name. "It's a great feeling going into a new album with this song connecting. It's the stuff you pray for ... to have a song explode like that. It's amazing. Hats off to Rhett and Luke."
'Take a Back Road' is not the first time Atkins has recorded one of Akins' tunes. On the singer's 'It's America' album, Atkins cut 'Friends With Tractors,' penned by Akins and his fellow Peach Pickers, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip. Atkins then took another Akins-penned song, 'Farmer's Daughter,' all the way to the Top 5 last year.
"My relationship with Rhett goes way back to me thinking [Rhett's single] 'That Ain't My Truck' [was] a cool song," says Atkins. "Then I realized that I couldn't get meetings in this town [because of the similarities in our last names]. I kept getting asked if I would change my last name based on Rhett. I'm so respectful of Rhett and what he's accomplished. The guy's on fire as a songwriter. I know how much he loves country music. To get to know Rhett [has] been really cool. He's just a great guy."
'Take a Back Road' co-writer Luke Laird shares the same admiration for Akins. "This [No. 1] feels really good because when I was in high school, I was a huge Rhett Akins fan," he told us at the party. "I seriously sang [his hit] 'Don't Get Me Started' in a high school talent show. To actually meet him and [have] this [be] the first song we ever wrote is pretty special."
"I'd been hearing about Luke for a year or so," added Akins. "Everyone was like, 'You've got to hook up with Luke Laird, man! He's awesome!' We met each other a couple of times at functions, and I'd be like, 'Dude, we've got to get together.' Sometimes you can talk it up too much, and then you get in a room with somebody and it's just terrible [laughs]! I walked in that day, and Luke already had this little drum beat going on his computer and the nasty guitar lick. I thought it was a cool little tune. I loved that guitar lick, but I didn't think my idea would fit it. I thought my idea of 'Take a Back Road' was too country for what it sounded like. We looked through some more titles, and that's all I had [laughs]. It all just blended in well."
"I don't ever get tired of No. 1 [songs]," Akins continued. "You're lucky to get one, and I'm extremely fortunate to have seven, so thank you to country radio and all these artists who cut our songs."
In addition to the awards handed out by BMI, Avenue Bank and other industry companies, Atkins presented both Laird and Akins with customized cornhole boards as a special thank you for allowing him to record the hit song.
"What hit me first with 'Take a Back Road' is something that I thought was cool with the guitar riff," recalls Atkins. "I loved the different kick pattern and the little catchy rhymes ... Unwind, unravel / Put a little gravel in my travel. I wanted to hear it again immediately. As soon as it was over the next time, I wanted to hear it again. It made me feel something that you don't even realize is there. It's not a ditty; it's a deeper song than that. It actually takes you to a good place while you're listening to it. It's an amazing song. I'm just thankful they let me work on it. There are so many artists they can give these songs to. I'm grateful and am very proud."
Atkins' new album, 'Take a Back Road,' is in stores now. The album contains the latest chart-topping hit, as well as a bonus track of 'Farmer's Daughter.'
Watch the Rodney Atkins 'Take a Back Road' Video