In Nashville they say it all starts with a song. Josh Thompson says his latest single "Wanted Me Gone" — a don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out Southern rock shuffle about mutually recognized irreconcilable differences — started with its first three lines: "I put the good in front of bye, y'all / Put a hole in the drywall / put the metal to the firewall and I was gone." The song isn't autobiographical, however.
"The whole 'wanted me gone' part was something that came as a result of the first three lines," Thompson tells Rolling Stone Country. "It wasn't specifically written for any particular breakup, it just kind of lent itself that way."
Perhaps that's why Thompson characterizes the tune (which he co-wrote with Floridian fraternal hit-maker duo the Warren Brothers) as more feel-good post-breakup song than scorched-earth, sad-bastard ballad.
"It's one of those 'too bad, so sad' kind of songs, mirrored with a deep groove — it just kind of feels good all around," he says. "I've loved it since the first day we wrote it."
Phoning in from a tour stop in Charleston, South Carolina ("We've got a show on a boat, so it should be alright"), Thompson tells us about some of his favorite country kiss-off songs that have inspired him over the years, from classics like Waylon Jennings' "I'm a Ramblin' Man," to more contemporary cuts like Eric Church's "Cold One."
"Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)," Travis Tritt
"I always try to fashion my kiss-off songs after [this one]. It's not so much that you're heartbroken, it's almost that you're more relieved, and there's really no chance of rekindling the flame. I think that [song] was the first time I remember hearing a breakup song that was more, like, 'I'm glad you're gone, don't even think about calling me back.' It has a lot of attitude in it, which I really dug about it."
"Cold One," Eric Church
"That song is just all groove. It could just as easily be a song about partying on a Friday night as it is a breakup song. It feels great!"
"She Thinks I Still Care," George Jones
"What I love about that song is, the way that they wrote it, there's just a whole bunch of scenarios of things that obviously shows that he cares, and that he's just kind of a dumb guy [saying], 'I can't believe she still thinks that I still care.' It's just humorous to me, that approach."
"A Little Past Little Rock," Lee Ann Womack
'That song is definitely more leaning towards the heartbreak side of leaving, but it's just one of those songs that — geniusly written in my opinion; one of my favorite country songs of all-time — it really paints a picture of that moment of leaving somebody when you don't want to."
"I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)," Brad Paisley
"She's basically telling him that he can't go fishing. … That's definitely a kiss-off song — he chooses fishing over her. But she never should have made the ultimatum, really, in my opinion. … Fortunately, I've never had to pick a hobby over a girlfriend before, but I definitely think it happens all the time, especially in music."
"Yard Sale," Sammy Kershaw
"There's definitely not a whole lot of kiss-off in that song, but it really is, again, one of the better written country songs that, in my opinion, there's ever been. It's basically a guy going through these memories of everything that they had together as they get sold in a yard sale."
"I'm a Ramblin' Man," Waylon Jennings
"[The relationship's] hard for him because he's gonna have to leave again. And basically, it's don't mess around with any ol' ramlin' man." (By Adam Gold)