Jake Owen has had a long career of feel-good hits. Since signing his first record deal 12 years ago, the Florida native has seen success with numerous upbeat concert staples including “Beachin’,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Anywhere with You” and “The One That Got Away.”
In late 2017, Owen signed with a new label, Big Loud Records, and the singer continues to leave his mark within the country genre with the infectious “I Was Jack (You Were Diane).” His fastest rising single, Owen says the song encapsulates his career of up-tempo, feel-good songs that speak of a younger, nostalgic feeling.
“Every song you put out to radio that becomes a piece of your career is something that you have to play every single night, and to me, I like being happy,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville over the phone. “I like my fans to be happy. I like to feel good. I like my fans to feel good. And, if I can create a career full of songs that make people feel good, it’ll always make me feel good performing them for them.”
The first time Owen heard “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” he loved the similarities to John Mellencamp’s 1982 hit, “Jack & Diane,” which happens to be one of his favorite songs. He’s hoping his new single will serve as a tribute to honor Mellencamp and introduce a younger audience to the classic.
“I loved that there’s some similarities. Whether it’s the lead guitar part that everybody’s familiar with, or there’s a line in there that says, ‘Holdin’ onto 16 as long as you can / Change is comin’ ’round real soon / Make us women and men.’ I think what that line was, in the original song, was that feeling that you better hold onto this feeling of being 16 because before you know it, we’re gonna be women and men, grown up with real lives. And, we’re gonna look back upon this and miss it,” he explains.
This feeling of nostalgia is also heard throughout the chorus of Owen’s song. “Do you close your eyes, does it make you laugh / Do the memories take you back / Six packs and a Chevy Cheyenne / Way back / When I was Jack and you were Diane,” he sings.
While Owen admits he was nervous to send “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” to Mellencamp to get his approval, he was eager to hear what his fans thought.
“I was not only nervous about sending it to John, to get his approval which he did — they all said they were excited about it and they appreciated it — but I was really excited and eager to hear what the fans thought because I know how much I respect John Mellencamp and the song. I didn’t want people out there to think that we were just ripping it off because we weren’t,” he asserts. “It was more or less of a tribute back to him with new lyrics that introduced a whole new era and a bunch of people to this song that might not have ever heard it.”
“I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” is the introduction to Owen’s forthcoming sixth studio album. He says it is a representation of the caliber of music that he’ll be recording.
“This is a chance for me, this part of my career, to really put out some music that is the best I’ve ever done,” he shares. “I’m at a place where I’m ready to go, I’m ready to take it to another level.”
Owen has already released a couple songs that will be on the album, including the poignant ballad “Made For You,” a song he says is his favorite so far, and “Something To Ride To.” He describes “Made For You” as an honest song with honest lyrics about the feeling of love and being completely made for someone else.
“You can’t live without that person. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be whole,” he explains. “And I truly believe that. My grandparents have been married for 70 years and I believe there’s somebody out there for everybody, it’s just a matter of finding that person and knowing it.”
On “Something To Ride To,” penned by Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard, Corey Crowder and Josh Miller, Owen portrays a heartbroken man who finds himself driving around in his truck trying to get his mind off an ex.
“I think sometimes people just want a song you turn on to listen to in order to turn off what’s going on in their mind and in their heads, and that’s what that song’s all about,” he shares. “It’s, ‘I don’t want anything that reminds me of this person. Just give me something to ride to, give me something to put in my truck, drive down the highway and relax and not think about it.'”
While Owen doesn’t have a date scheduled for his new album, fans will get a chance to hear these new songs live when he launches his 2018 Life’s Whatcha Make It Tour on May 15 with Chris Janson and Jordan Davis. The majority of shows will take place in baseball stadiums and Owen promises a fun summer.
“I grew up as a kid playing baseball, loving baseball. Being able to go out with Chris Janson and Jordan Davis, who are both great artists and are gonna bring a lot to the table as far as entertainment, it’s gonna make for a great summer,” Owen concedes.