“We Were Us,” the 16th Number One hit for Keith Urban that pairs him in a wistful duet with Miranda Lambert, was actually close to being landed in the hands of someone a little peachier — a “Georgia Peach,” actually.
“I think they were talking about Lauren Alaina doing it at one point,” the song’s co-writer Jon Nite told Rolling Stone Country upstairs at Nashville’s Music City Tippler, a bar on the ground level of the Adelicia building that houses Taylor Swift’s palatial penthouse. Nite, along with co-writers Jimmy Robbins and Nicolle Galyon, had gathered with Urban to celebrate the song’s chart-topping status at the official (but belated — “We Were Us” first peaked last year) Number One Party. Unable to attend, Lambert’s greeting was beamed-in via video shown on the venue’s televisions. “Have [a drink] for me,” she told the libation-sipping crowd that included former “Voice” contestant RaeLynn.
Luckily for the Aussie singer (and unfortunate for former American Idol runner-up Alaina), Urban snagged the tune first. “It was one of those immediate things,” he told reporters at a press conference on his first listen. “It started out that I loved the imagery. I love that way of songwriting where you can plug everything else in as a listener — it’s like telegraph writing: ‘Had baby, stop. 8 lbs, 7 oz, stop.’ You fit everything else in between.”
The decision to recruit Lambert was an easy one. “Her face and voice just came to me,” Urban says, though convincing his team that a male-female duet led in by the woman’s voice was a much more difficult battle.
“So many people said, ‘You can’t put that on the radio with her singing first,'” Urban said, sitting casually in a blue Obey t-shirt that allowed his signature tattoos to pop out. He’d tried switching the order of the verses, but it didn’t click. “It was just so wrong. We were very lucky that the powers-that-be go behind it.” And with Urban and Lambert on competing labels, there was even some uncertainly that it could move beyond an album track (from 2013’s Fuse), or happen at all.
Of course, it was a good gamble – the single went platinum, the plaque of which was awarded to Urban later in the event before the songwriters took the stage to claim their various awards. For Galyon’s turn, she reminisced about the first time she saw Urban sing, back before he hit superstar status.
“The first time I was on a plane was to Fan Fair,” she told the audience. “And I saw Keith play at Tower Records. I’d never seen anyone play the guitar like that. And I’d certainly never heard anyone talk like that in country music.”
To commemorate the occasion, the three co-writers adorned themselves with matching “Every Word” tattoos — walking from the press conference into the main party room, Galyon and Robbins showed off theirs, on her forearm and his bicep, respectively.
Urban didn’t join the writers for new ink, but he did invite them on stage to sing a stripped-down version of “We Were Us.” “Cheers,” he said, before dissolving into a crowd of congratulatory handshakes.