Lyrics Uncovered: Justin Moore, ‘You Look Like I Need a Drink’
Justin Moore's "You Look Like I Need a Drink" lyrics bring a fun, witty vibe to country radio, married to a classic piece of subject matter. Yet the cut that's currently burning up country radio is actually quite different from the song as it was originally written and demoed.
Matt Dragstrem, Rodney Clawson and Natalie Hemby had written together before in various permutations, but the session that resulted in "You Look Like I Need a Drink" marked the first time they'd co-written as a unit. "I'd had some success with Rodney before, and Natalie was kind enough to jump in with us, and I was kind of a lucky guy to be in that room with those two geniuses that day," Dragstrem tells Taste of Country with a laugh.
The trio were texting titles back and forth that morning when one of the men suggested "I Look Like I Need a Drink," which caused Hemby to suggest looking at it from a different angle and calling it "You Look Like I Need a Drink."
"We were gonna write it in a way that was more like in a bar, about a girl, and then Natalie had a completely different angle that really brought the song to life," Dragstrem recalls. "Natalie is a master, so she just threw that out there and were just like, 'Yeah!' Anything different and cool, when you're at this stage where you're writing hundreds of songs, it's like, yeah, we've got to do that."
Dragstrem already had a track started for the song, and they worked to that template, with Clawson and Hemby carrying the bulk of the melody, while all three writers contributed to the "You Look I Need a Drink" lyrics. The finished song is a fun and clever take on a breakup song: "You’re just dancing around what you came here to do but you’re scared to / And all I can think, the way you’re looking at me / You look like I need a drink."
They cut two demos; one with Clawson's vocal, and one with Hemby's, set to a backing track with a laid-back, Eagles-esque groove that featured acoustic guitars, horns, banjos and mandolins. The song bounced around Nashville and was on hold with several different artists before finding its way to Moore.
I've always been a fan of his, so it was just a re-affirming kind of moment. It made me feel like I kind of know what I'm doing.
"It took about eight months to get that cut, so Justin liked it for a little while, a couple of months before he cut it," Dragstrem recalls. "He heard it and immediately put it on hold, and he cut it a couple of months later. So it was tossed around a bit for sure, and then we found out Justin was cutting, and it was just like, 'That's a great song for him.'"
Moore's cut is a completely different take on the material, featuring big, rockin' guitars.
"The way they cut it, I love it. I think they really took it to the next level," Dragstrem enthuses. "I was happy with the decisions they made. They just re-imagined it."
"I'm pretty good about writing a song and moving on, and however they want to interpret the song, they can interpret that way," he adds. "They're the ones taking a chance and putting their vocal on it, and loving it enough, and promoting it and playing it out, and I want them to feel like it's going to enhance their career. So I just let it go, and whatever happens, happens. But thankfully, this one I really, really enjoyed. I was really happy with it."
"You Look Like I Need a Drink" ended up being chosen as the lead single from Moore's upcoming new album, making the cut that much sweeter for the writers.
"I was in L.A. writing when I found out they were gonna make it the first single, and I think I bought the person behind me's coffee, I was so happy!" Dragstrem relates with another laugh. "I was at Starbuck's buying coffee when I got the text, and I was like, 'You know what, I'll buy all of y'all's coffee!' I was just so happy. It's such an anticipated project, and he's got such a likable voice. He's got such a classic, yet still current sound. I've always been a fan of his, so it was just a re-affirming kind of moment. It made me feel like I kind of know what I'm doing."
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