Lyrics Uncovered: Trent Harmon, ‘Falling’
Trent Harmon's "Falling" lyrics really push the envelope at country radio, but ironically, the song was originally intended for one of it writers to record.
Keith Urban co-wrote the song with Brett James and Dallas Davidson, two of the most sought-after songwriters in Nashville. "It might have been inspired by Waylon Jennings' guitar," James tells Taste of Country. "Keith walked in with Waylon's original Tele that he was on the cover of three different albums with. So we spent about an hour and a half playing with Waylon Jennings' guitar before we got down to write."
Urban had a slow, sexy 6/8 groove that he played for his collaborators, and that got the ball rolling on the song. "I think we spent about an hour working on the melody. I don't remember how the title or the concept of 'Falling' came in — I think it was just how the melody made the words come out," James says. "It just kinda happened. For whatever reason that seemed to feel like the right thing to sing over the song."
It wasn't hard work to write the song, James recalls. "It was just a big, fun jam ... we literally just laughed our tails off for about three hours, four hours, and had more fun, and at the end of the day we had that song."
The "Falling" lyrics were an equal collaboration, along with the melody.
"On some writes you've got more of a lyricist in the room, or more of a melody guy, but all three of us do all of that. I don't think there would be any way to discern who did more melody or lyric. I would have no idea who actually did what in the room. It was more of a jam. We're all just kinda throwing stuff out, and if that line works, stick it here; if that line works, stick it there. We're all singer-songwriters, so this was more of a collaborative effort with no real boundaries."
The "Falling" lyrics are almost too hot for country radio: "Eye to eye, your skin on mine / You slide your fingers through my hair and tell me take it slow / And I know what you want / And so I go down on my knees, I’m here to please / I just keep, I just keep falling for you baby," Harmon sings.
We're all singer-songwriters, so this was more of a collaborative effort with no real boundaries.
"That came from Keith. Keith's not afraid to push the boundaries; he's done it his whole career," James says. "So some of the sexiness of the lyrics, it's nice to have an artist in the room for that reason. Sometimes you want to push lyrical boundaries, but you don't know if the artist will do it. It's really nice to have the artist right there, saying, 'Yeah, I'd love that.' That's a beautiful thing about writing with an artist, since we had Keith in mind for that song."
It didn't quite turn out that way. Urban passed on the song for his Ripcord album, and what happened next came as a surprise to everyone. Harmon ended up recording the song as his first single, and singing it on the last-ever episode of American Idol when he won the show's final season.
"I don't even know how it got pitched, but it got to Big Machine, to the head A&R person for American Idol," James relates. "Keith didn't even know they were doing it; he didn't know it was gonna be played as the finale song until probably the night it was the finale song. That was kind of a fun thing, to see that song come full circle. We wrote it for his record, he turned it down, and then he was sitting there judging American Idol as it comes on as the finale song.'
James only knew about the cut a few days before, and he watched his song debut live on TV with the rest of the country.
"I was actually at my studio at home, writing with two other guys, and I had the TV on in the background on mute, and I saw him, and I said, 'Hold on, guys, we've got to stop this for a second while I watch him sing my song,'" he says with a laugh. "So we shut down that writing session because I had to turn the TV up."
Not only did they end up getting a major cut and a massive TV launch for their single, but "I got a souvenir from that write," James shares. "I got a picture of me holding Waylon Jennings' legendary guitar. Not every session do you get a good souvenir like that! That was great."