The first taste of Charles Kelley’s solo career is a glimpse inside his life — and a lifestyle that he shares with fellow country stars Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay. “The Driver” is all about the thrills of touring, the catharsis of songwriting and universal connections made through music.
“‘The Driver’ is my last eight years of life put in a song,” Kelley tells Rolling Stone Country. “I had this idea of, ‘I’m the driver, bringing the circus to town/First one in, last rolling out.’ I played it for Eric Paslay and Abe Stoklasa in a writing session. . . and the struggle was, how do we bring in the audience? It’s not just the driver. You have to have the dreamers and believers, and of course the last verse being the singer. It’s just the full, encompassing thing that is my life.”
Along with producer Paul Worley, Kelley decided that this tune would be best sung by a trio — but not his Grammy-winning threesome Lady Antebellum. Rather, he asked Paslay and pal Dierks Bentley to each take a verse themselves, and to harmonize on the rest of the track. The result is one of the most dynamic, diverse songs country radio has played all year.
The three friends bring “The Driver” to life in its subtly introspective new video released today. Kelley, Paslay and Bentley each have solo scenes belting their respective lines, but they also appear together on stage at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. Their performance is peppered with clips of the guys playing poker, perhaps again giving a glimpse of their lives on the road.