Story Behind the Song: Jason Aldean, ‘Lights Come On’
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“Lights Come On” was never intended for Jason Aldean. The song, written by Florida Georgia Line‘s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard — along with songwriters Jordan Schmidt, Jimmy Robbins and brothers Brad and Brett Warren — began as a happy accident, when Schmidt and Robbins accidentally booked two writing appointments at the same time.
With so many hit songwriters in one room, magic was bound to happen — and it did. However, no involved could have predicted on that day that the song would become the debut single from They Don’t Know, Aldean’s seventh studio album and his 17th No.1 hit. Below, Aldean and some of the writers of “Lights Come On” share with The Boot and other reporters to the story behind the song.
Jordan Schmidt: We got double booked on our write — that’s how it started out. Jimmy didn’t want to do it, because it was too many people for Jimmy Robbins — he can’t get in his creative flow with that many people — so he was trying to back out, and the rest of us were like, “Come on, Jimmy. Don’t do it.” So he showed up, reluctantly. We just decided to go with it and write with six people in the [Florida Georgia Line] treehouse.
Brad Warren: We were trying to write a show-opener for Florida Georgia Line. That was the point of the day: They were looking for a show-opener. So, Brett has the title, and we had talked about it the day before a little bit, and kind of got something working. The song started sounding great, and we were all like, “Wow, this is turning into a great track. This is really something. This is good.” And somewhere in the middle, BK said, “This would be great for Jason Aldean.” I said, “Oh no. This is for you.”
Brett Warren: That’s usually code for “We don’t like it.” When an artist says, “This would be good for another artist,” it means they don’t like it.
Brad Warren: That never works out. When you’re writing with one big artist and they say it would be good for another big artist, certainly that’s not going to work out. So we figured that we wasted our day, but we had good fellowship.
And then, two days later — that was a Friday, and Monday, Jason Aldean cut it. In fact, Brett and I got canceled that day. We were at the movies, no lie, and [producer] Michael Knox called us and goes, “Hey, what are you doing right now?” I was kind of afraid to say we were in the movies, so I said, “Nothing” … He said, “Man we’ve got this song of y’alls that we love. Can Brett come over and sing the scratch?” which is the version that goes down with the band … We’re like, “Absolutely.”
Schmidt: I finished the demo Sunday night in the hospital, because my wife had sprained her ankle. I brought her to the hospital, she was getting checked out, and I sat there with my headphones on and finished that demo, because everyone was bugging me, “Where’s the demo? Where’s the demo?”
Jason Aldean: I look at it like a stadium anthem: It’s a fist-pumper, and it’s sort of a shoutout to the fans, and it’s just cool.
I think FGL and the other guys who wrote this song, it’s one of those feel-good songs. It’s got great guitar riffs, and it gets people out of their seat immediately with the song, and I think that’s sort of one of our calling cards, are those kind of songs. So when I heard it, I pulled Michael out of the studio that day and I said, “I know we thought we were done cutting, but I just found our first single,” and he thought I was kidding.
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