Josh Kelley Shares the Family Inspiration Behind ‘Busy Making Memories’

Check out his blissful new single and video!

Written by Chris Parton
Josh Kelley Shares the Family Inspiration Behind ‘Busy Making Memories’
Josh Kelley; Photo credit: Justin Hackworth

Singer-songwriter Josh Kelley admits he’s been a bit off the musical radar lately, but it’s not because he’s lost his touch. He’s just been “Busy Making Memories,” he explains, and a blissful new single and video tells the story.

All about simple joy of fatherhood and how precious he holds his family, Kelley’s “Busy Making Memories” was written while he and wife Katherine Heigl (of Grey’s Anatomy fame) enjoyed some quality time with the kids. Backed in classic fashion by a crisp acoustic guitar and with Kelley’s south-Georgia vocal full of contentment, it not only marks the beginning of a new artistic chapter, but explains where he’s been.

“This is just one of those songs that encapsulates how I feel about family and the little moments,” Kelley says, speaking with Sounds Like Nashville from the family’s home in Utah. “Fatherhood suits me very well — although it doesn’t always suit my career. Honestly it’s just because I want to be with them all the time.”

The “Only You” hit maker says “Busy Making Memories” basically appeared out of thin air, arriving in a flash the morning after a party to celebrate another year’s passing. As as his children played around him, it felt like the pieces of a puzzle coming together — all on their own.

“It was New Year’s Day of 2019 and me and my wife had burned the candle at both ends the night before,” he explains with a laugh. “There was a bit of a hangover going on, but I have this little guitar rig next to where I sit and drink my coffee in the morning, and for some reason I just started playing this crazy little riff.”

Kelley says he started humming the track’s bounding melody right away, and soon the first verse — “I never saw this day in my brain when I was carving out the rest of my life” – popped into his head. “It’s because I was watching my kids play around and I was so grateful,” he reflects. “I was like ‘I love this, I don’t want to miss too much of this.’ … Out of nowhere I started singing ‘I’m busy making memories,’ and that was it. I was like ‘Oh, my God.’”

But the meant-to-be story doesn’t end there, since Kelley says making the snowcapped video was just as easy.

“My wife loves the song so much that when I was done with it she took the kids for a walk,” he explains. “She was out there taking footage of the kids [on her phone], and we’re lucky living here in Utah because the natural light is just incredible. When she came back and did a little thing on iMovie, I was like ‘Wait a minute, we should do a whole video like this.’”

The couple gathered more candid shots of the family in their element — plus some of Kelley and his brother Charles of Lady Antebellum’s dad to stitch the theme together — and that was basically the whole deal. But he’s just the music guy, Kelley cautions. It’s his wife who brought the song to life on screen.

“My job was to load the footage into Final Cut Pro,” he says with another laugh. “Then she does the editing, because she understands emotional beats. She is a very gifted and talent actress and producer, and she just totally gets it.”

Kelley says more new music is coming in 2020 — part of his first album of new originals since 2015 — plus a large-scale tour which includes a stop at Nashville’s City Winery. And though he knows it’ll be hard pulling himself away from the family (which now includes a son, two daughters and an 18-year-old niece), the “Busy Making Memories” project will surely help Kelley through the lonely hours. It was a true family affair, he says, and definitely a memory worth making.

“We just love creating,” he says. “These kind of things, our family thrives on that.”