Luke Bryan recently released his sixth studio album, What Makes You Country, and the project landed at No. 1 on both the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts. While the singer penned seven of the album’s 15 tracks, there is one song that stands out from the rest: “Land of a Million Songs.”
The poignant song tells a captivating tale of a songwriter’s journey to Nashville and the many ups and downs along the way. “You were hooked with your daddy’s hand-me-down flat top / The first time that you made your first love cry / And the words you wrote were running from her eyes / Down on the paper, made you feel so alive / So you packed up your pickup and crossed that Tennessee line,” he sings on the song’s first verse.
Bryan penned the powerful song about the Nashville experience with his producers, the father and son team of Jeff and Jody Stevens. In an interview in Nashville with local press, the Georgia native admits that these types of songs are always difficult to bring to life in the writing room. He then went on to share how the song came to be, adding that it is his favorite song he has ever written.
The day they wrote “Land of a Million Songs,” the three frequent collaborators were at Bryan’s house working on a different song when he left the room to get some coffee. As he walked back in, the title “Land of a Million Songs” came to him.
“I can count on both my hands in many, many years of writing, [when] for some reason your brain has a firework moment and you come up with a title,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville. “I remember I was walking back to the songwriting room and I said, ‘Land of a Million Songs.'”
He told Jeff and Jody that they needed to stop working on the song they were writing. Moments later, the three songwriters switched gears and began creating what would become “Land of a Million Songs.”
“I said, ‘Boys, whatever we’re writing we need to put it in the trash,'” he recalls. “We wrote the first verse and chorus. We already had been working on the song for a couple of hours. When the kids get off the school bus, and get to the house, all my creativity is gone at that point.”
While Bryan took off his creative hat and spent time being dad for the rest of the day, Jeff and Jody kept working. With a studio in their house, they wrote the second verse and tracked “Land of a Million Songs” unbeknownst to Bryan. The next morning, Bryan was in bed when he saw an email from Jeff come through. He then opened his email, surprised to find the finished song attached.
“I’m like, ‘What are these ding dongs doing? They done went in here and finished this thing!’ And I hit it, and I just started crying in the bed,” Bryan admits. “I called Jeff, and I said, ‘Guys, I really believe this is one of the best songs that I’ve ever written. I couldn’t be more proud of a song, and what you guys did with, ‘Everybody’s got a story that needs to be sold, and they pray someday they’ll hang a little gold, and ride back to their hometown with their head held high.'”
The lyrics came from real life experiences for each of the songwriters. As Bryan explains, Jeff wrote about taking a loading dock job to make his rent, which he did when he was starting out. He then spoke the lines of the song:
“So you take that loading dock job, just to pay the rent / And you learn a few things from them hard working men / You listen to them laugh, and you listen to them curse.”
Bryan admits that it gives him chills when he recites these very lyrics.
“Jeff had a loading dock job when he was getting going. Look my arm, I can’t even handle it,” he says, pointing to the hairs standing up on his arm. “I was that emotional about it. Listen, when you can have those experiences, of making an album, writing a song . . . that’s just one that you don’t question what segment of your audience it’s going to hit. You just have to chalk it up to you in your heart feel like you wrote a great song, and it needs to be on the album. I’m certainly proud of that one.”