Canaan Smith Shares Heartbreaking Story Behind 'Bronco'

(Radio.com) For Canaan Smith, Bronco is much more than the title of his new album. It's a reminder of who he is, where he came from and where he hopes the road will take him.

It also happens to be the name of the most honest song he wrote on the album, one inspired by his late brother, who died in a car accident while driving a Ford Bronco.

'That Bronco has stuck with me my whole life," Smith tells Radio.com. His voice is soft as he speaks of the song, the truck…and the memory of his brother. 'That picture, that image of him driving a Bronco, that's the central theme in my album."

For good reason, then, the song "Bronco" became the title track of Smith's debut album, which was released earlier this week (June 23). In "Bronco," Smith sings of the hurdles his family went through after his brother's death, especially his sister. "Leah has a hard time thinkin' she's older than you," he sings. He admits it was tough to write, but at the same time he says it's important to write the songs that hurt, and then to share those emotions with listeners.

'The best songs are the vulnerable songs, the ones that come from a place of experience and truth," he explains. 'I can't share an honest picture of who I am with the world without including my brother in that story."

After hearing Smith sing the song at a show, Luke Bryan, who also lost his brother, shared his condolences with Smith. 'Luke Bryan came up to me and said, 'I hate that we are members of the same club, but I love that song and I think that it's important that you did it.' And I agree with him. I hate that me and millions of people out there are members of the same club."

Smith adds that he hopes those hearing the song and struggling through similar loss find 'a little bit of hope and peace knowing that they're not alone."

The 'Love You Like That" singer, though, is quick to explain that "Bronco" is not just sad. It also reminds him of the free spirit his brother had, and it's that free spirit that often inspires him to say yes to everything and be a renegade himself.

'A wild bronco has that exact mentality," he says. "They're kind of stubborn and they're ready to run wherever they want to run and see where the road goes, and that's what I want to do with my music, too."

'Right after I wrote 'Bronco,' that next week I went and got a tattoo of a bronco on my arm because I had a feeling that that song would be sticking around and really be a part of my story," he explains, lifting the left sleeve of his white T-shirt to show the tattoo. 'I didn't know it would be the title cut of the album. This is just a reminder that that story will always be with me. Even when this album cycle is over and we're onto the next album, 'Bronco' is why I do what I do and it's my source of strength and inspiration. Every day and every night this is a reminder." Read more here.

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

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