Lee Brice's 'I Drive Your Truck' Songwriters Discuss Track

(Radio.com) When the songwriting team of Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander and Jimmy Yeary finished "I Drive Your Truck," they knew this wasn't an ordinary song. It wasn't even an ordinary hit song. It was something truly special. And to pull it off, to make it work, they also knew they needed to find the right type of singer.

They found that singer in Lee Brice. "It slayed me," Brice told Radio.com, describing the first time he heard the song. "I immediately fell in love with it."

Initially released on his 2012 album Hard 2 Love, "I Drive Your Truck" became Brice's third single in a row from that album to reach No. 1. Now the song is up for Single of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards. Brice has also been nominated as Male Vocalist of the Year.

The story of the song began one Memorial Day weekend a few years back, when writer Connie Harrington was visiting family. She was listening to NPR, and the reporter was interviewing a man whose son was a soldier who had died in Afghanistan. How was he going to commemorate his son during Memorial Day? He answered that he was simply going to drive his truck.

"Connie being the daughter of a POW, this just really hit home," said another of the song's writers, Jessi Alexander, during a recent conversation with Radio.com. "So she literally pulled off the side of the road and started to jot down as much as she could remember of what he said."

During a songwriting session soon after, Harrington and Alexander were tossing around ideas, "and she said, 'well I have this one.' And she started to cry. And anybody who writes with Connie knows that when she's crying, you're onto something great."

But even describing the idea was difficult. "She couldn't even say it - she couldn't say 'I drive his truck.' She was like, 'no, I don't want to do it today.' And I was like, 'oh yeah we are!' I pulled it out of her."

They spent that day "just throwing out images," Alexander recalled. "The shirt in the back the dog tags the Gatorade bottle. I remember me saying the '89 cents in the ashtray.' Maybe it was 39 cents when we first started. But just images."

At the end of that day, Alexander said, she told Harrington that "'I feel like this song is too powerful for us to let go. If we write this as a female song it'll never get cut. We have to get a guy in here.'"

At that point as a songwriting team, Alexander explained, she and Harrington had together only written songs from a female point of view, and they'd never had one cut. For this song, though, they felt they needed a male singer for it to work - and to find the audience it deserved.

With that in mind, she said, "I didn't want to be trusted with the melody. If we were going to write it for a male, I didn't want to have that burden to write [the music] myself." So she and Harrington "tossed out ideas," and eventually Yeary's name came up as the "perfect" choice.

They gave Yeary what they had so far on the song, and at the next session, Alexander said, when he arrived, "you could tell he had really taken his time and worked on it." And when they finished it that day, she recalled, "we all looked at each other with amazement."

"We all cried at some point" during the session, she said. "And when it was over, there was just a communal prayer of, let's make sure we get this to the right person to sing it." more on this story

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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