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Ryan Griffin Says New Song ‘Play It By Heart’ Is His Theme Song For Life

"Our goal is to continually feed people with songs. I want to make sure that it's something I'm not afraid to say, and stand behind forever," Griffin said.

Written by Annie Reuter
Ryan Griffin Says New Song ‘Play It By Heart’ Is His Theme Song For Life
Ryan Griffin; Photo Credit to Dove Shore

Long before Ryan Griffin was touring the country and bringing his heartfelt lyrics and unique production style to the masses, he was a teenager in Florida penning songs with his older brother. The singer-songwriter vividly recalls the first song he wrote with his middle brother called “Send Me An Angel to Love.”

Griffin was a freshman in high school at the time and says he hopes the song is hidden under lock-and-key. While his two older brothers were into sports, playing baseball and football, his father wasn’t quite sure what to do with his youngest son’s passion for music. So, he did some research.

“He came home from work early one day, unbeknownst to me, and started flipping through the phone book and calling anybody that had to do with music because Chad and I had this song,” Griffin recalls with a smile. “He ended up talking to this dude who was a couple miles down the road from us in Ocala, Florida, and this guy was just the one dude that would talk to my dad.”

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His father booked some studio time so Griffin and his older brother could record “Send Me An Angel to Love.” Griffin says he played guitar well enough to write the song, but he was in no way a studio musician. Since the studio owner’s business partner could play every instrument, he helped the boys record their song.

“I’ll never forget when that happened. We were literally blown away. We were like, ‘So this is how music is created.’ To see it go from just an idea, words on a paper and thoughts in our head, to something that we could put in and listen in the CD player — it was amazing.”

Griffin was hit with the music bug and never had a backup plan. Throughout his entire childhood, he knew he wanted to pursue music and be a singer. In fact, his mom often informs him that he was humming melodies and singing before he could string sentences together.

When Griffin was 17, he moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University. After graduation, he received a publishing deal and began writing songs professionally. He saw early success with his second cut and first No. 1 hit–Kelsea Ballerini’s “Dibs.” Following his release of “Back Seats and Burnt CDs” last year, Griffin says he’s been continuing to work on his craft and trying to figure out his artist career.

Recently, he released three brand new songs with the help of producer busbee. These tracks bring to mind the bold production of Keith Urban and vocal range of Brian McKnight. “Best Cold Beer,” “Play It By Heart” and “Good Company” were all co-written by Griffin and are a hint of what’s to come from the budding artist.

“Play It By Heart” serves as the anchor within the new songs. Co-written with busbee and Emily Weisband, Griffin admits that “Play It By Heart” is his theme song for life.

“Leading with your heart, wearing your heart on your sleeve, it’s all of that to me. I think that lyric is the one that means more to me now than it even did when I wrote it,” he says from a chair at his management office. “Going back to the way that I was raised, and also the way that I’m raising my child and the way that my wife and I approach life, is don’t take it too seriously, and play everything by heart. As long as you’re leading with your heart, things will be okay. You’ll get through the good times and the bad. So that’s the theme of that song for me, and honestly, what I want the theme of the record to end up being.”

While “Play It By Heart” showcases a more sentimental side to Griffin, “Good Company” ups the ante with smooth guitar parts, seductive vocals and a beat that begs to be danced to. The perfect summer anthem, “Good Company” was penned with Ben West and Melissa Peirce. West first shared a track he had been working on and once he played it for Griffin and Peirce, they knew it was something they could get behind.

“It had this beach-y vibe to it. I told a friend the other day, ‘What I loved so much about that song is that it could be played in downtown Manhattan or in the Bahamas.’ To me, that song translates in both environments because it has that beach vibe to it. It gives me that feeling of when you first meet somebody that you’re really into, that fire, that spark. That’s what that song represents to me.”

Griffin released a third song titled “Best Cold Beer,” which had him in the writing room with busbee and Josh Kear. Kear, who Griffin calls “a legendary writer,” penned Lady Antebellum’s massive hit “Need You Know,” among other No. 1 songs, and Griffin admits that he was nervous the night before his co-write.

“Being in the room with him that day was a bucket list moment for me. And then on top of it, getting this idea out of it was … it’s just such a fun, free-loving, carefree idea. My favorite line in the song, which is kind of quirky, but when it says, ‘Bartender pour this down the sink.’ I can envision that, and envision the sink, and pouring it down, and all of that. I love that.”

While Griffin is soft-spoken throughout our interview, he is visibly excited when talking about his new music. Not unlike that feeling he had when he recorded his first song in high school, Griffin is certain music is his calling and he’s hoping to create an experience for fans when they listen to his music.

“I’ve always enjoyed the process of creating it, but there’s something different about this. The team, the people, the energy, the music,” he says, beaming. “You never know what’s going to happen when you sit in a room with somebody and you try to write a song…our goal is to continually feed people with songs. I want to make sure that it’s something I’m not afraid to say, and stand behind forever. We’re trying to be super intentional with the music and busbee has done an incredible job, come alongside, and helped me craft the sound and what I’ve always wanted.”