Twenty-seven-year-old Tennessee native Dustin Lynch is set to release his self-titled debut album this summer (August 21 on Broken Bow), and the centerpiece of that release will be a single he’s been working the past few months, “Cowboys and Angels.” Dustin sat down with WYCD personality Steve Grunwald backstage on opening day of the WYCD Downtown Hoedown on Friday to talk about his music, how that song came about, and what it’s meant to him. He also reveals where he’s stashing his new album for safe-keeping.
“We just finished [the album] a couple of days ago,” he says, and he’s “super excited about it. I’ve put a good 300 songs worth of writing into this thing, so we’ve narrowed that down to 12 or 13.” It truly is, he says, “the work of my life.”
Now some people, says Grunwald, “when the get a new album, they’ll lock it up — put it in a safe, make sure nothing happens to it. Where’s yours?”
“Mine currently is under my pillow,” says Dustin. “Out on the bus, under my pillow. And now that I’ve announced that to everybody, I need to probably move it. But I literally picked it up last night, I’m making some final tweaks on it. And I’ve got it on the bus so I can listen to it this weekend.”
Dustin says he’s touring all summer, “getting the music out there,” and he’s also is thrilled that his single “Cowboys and Angels,” released this past January, has been catching on so well. “It’s opening so many doors for me,” he says, and “changing my life.”
Dustin wrote the song with two guys he now calls “buddies,” Tim Nichols and Josh Leo, though they only met when they started working together. But, he says, when it came to writing his hit song, the working relationship was obviously meant to be.
“Tim Nichols had ‘Cowboys and Angels’ as an idea, and I had ‘Cowboys and Angels’ as an idea — written on a sheet of paper. And we’d never met each other. So when we met, and both had that written down, we were like, ‘Well, this is probably supposed to be written today.’ And little did we know, it would change my life.”
So how long does a song like that take to write? “It came quick to us,” says Dustin, “but we sat there all day and edited, and made sure we had it perfect.”
And when writing a song like that, is it clear during the process that this is something truly special?
With “Cowboys and Angels,” he says, it was clear that this was a standout. “I don’t know what it was about it, it just fit my voice so well. And we wrote it in this old house on Music Row, so it had this Angst-y feeling to it. I knew we had a special song.”
“Cowboys and Angels,” says Dustin, is actually two years old–it’s just taken a while to see the light of day, on tour and on the radio. But, he says, because of that, it’s become a “foundation” of his new record. “Even though it’s two years old, we’ve [always] known we were going to build a record around this song. So that shows you how special we knew it was early on.”
The 30th anniversary WYCD Downtown Hoedown is taking place this weekend (June 8-10) in downtown Detroit.
– Kurt Wolff, CBS Local