Keith Urban SXSW Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

Keith Urban?s new song, ?Coming Home,? draws from his love of classic country, with the classic riff from Merle Haggard?s ?Mama Tried? incorporated into the main musical tag of the track. This is no classic country song, though.

Keith?s got a drum machine all over ?Coming Home,? as well as a guest vocal from pop star Julia Michaels, who is credited as a co-writer, too.

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So, how did this song?s different elements come together?

It all started when Keith got the idea to build a brand-new song around that Haggard riff. He teamed up with his friend J.R. Rotem to starting writing the song, and the lyrics to the chorus came quickly for Keith.

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He says, ?Hearing that rolling Haggard guitar lick sparked memories of my childhood ? and my dream to come to America. I knew right then the story [of the song] was about the struggles of being in a city where your dreams have brought you, but far from your home ?  wherever, whomever and whatever that is for each of us.?

Julia Michaels came in and expanded on that idea of wanting to physically be at home with the ones you love.

Keith says, ?She summed up the whole story in one sentence: ‘Yeah, I know it?s only one call away, but it?s not the same.’ For me, that simple phrase said so much, especially when she sang it.?

Finally, Keith made sure to check with Merle Haggard?s family to be certain they approved of his using the late country legend?s riff in the song.


Says Keith, ?I called [Merle?s widow] Theresa Haggard and [his son] Ben Haggard to play them what we?d been working on. It was important to me to have their blessing, and I?m so grateful that they love the song.?

?Coming Home? is included on Keith?s upcoming album, ?Graffiti U,? which will be released in the coming months. His “Graffiti U World Tour” launches June 15 in St. Louis.

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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