1. "WORLD WIDE OPEN" (Eric Gunderson, Danny Orton)
Eric: This started as a relationship song and Danny said, "Why don't we make it about life and opportunities and which path you're going to take?" There was so much going through my head related to the band and finances and other things at the time and I needed to get it all out on paper. The easiest way was through this song, which became about grabbing life and running with it as far as you can.
2. "RUNAWAY" (Stephen Barker Liles, Canaan Smith, Rob Blackledge)
Stephen: We all agreed unanimously on this for the first single. It means a lot to all of us because we all picked up and left our hometowns, dropped out of college and left everything to pursue our country music dreams. This song is about reaching that breaking point where you actually decide to leave behind a negative part of your life, whether it be an unhealthy relationship or a job or a hometown and pursue something different, something new and positive. It's about that point where you stop talking about it and you actually do it. That's what we all did. If we hadn't all been runaways, we wouldn't be here right now. Life is too short to not enjoy the journey.
3. "DANCING IN CIRCLES"
(Stephen Barker Liles, Robert Ellis Orrall, Roger Springer)Stephen: I was in Robert Ellis Orrall's office and Roger Springer called. He had written a lot of hits for Mark Chesnutt and others and was saying, "I'm coming back into town to write. I've been out a couple of years." So Robert said, "Come on over." He came in with the line "I don't understand why we do what we do to each other," and we just looked at each other and said, "Yeah, let's go with that." We wrote it fast.
4. "IT'S UP TO YOU" (Eric Gunderson, Robert Ellis Orrall, Chris Carpenter)
Eric: This is the first song I wrote for Love and Theft. I was living with a roommate who had a lot of things handed to him and the people around him, who loved him, were saying, "You need to take some initiative and take more responsibility. It's up to you." I didn't think it was getting through, but this song is about him getting to a point where he took responsibility and changed on his own.
5. "YOU TO MISS" (Brian Bandas, Jeff Coplan)
Brian: Two years ago I fell quickly and madly in love. Shortly thereafter, she left for a summer-long mission trip to Africa--great for her, painful for me. I was surprised how crushed I was on the day she left. We were at Eric's house doing some writing and I heard the line "I can't get you off my mind." I remember thinking, "I don't like that. I don't want to get her off my mind. I don't want to bail out just because it hurts." So the song is about embracing the pain of being apart from someone as the one thing that is connecting you to them. As much as it hurt, it reminded me how much I cared about her.
6. "CAN'T GO BACK" (Eric Gunderson, Jeff Coplan, Robert Ellis Orrall)
Eric: I wanted to write a song that was a throwback to Crosby, Stills and Nash or the Eagles, where there's that strong three-part harmony. The idea is traveling down the road of life, thinking you can impact and help people along the way, but in reality the people you think you're impacting are actually impacting you. It talks about how crazy the world is and how you've never been in this place of peace and comfort because it doesn't really exist. We don't want to face that reality, and this is the idea of getting past that.
7. "DON'T WAKE ME" (Stephen Barker Liles, Jeff Coplan)
Stephen: Our first music video ever! It's about being so madly in love everything feels like a dream. I wrote this with Jeff Coplan at Eric's house. I was at the piano singing this little idea when Jeff walked in and said, "That's pretty cool. What are you doing right now?" "Just this," I said. "Let's write it," he said. It's about never wanting to lose that initial connection that's so amazing. And I wrote this about a specific girl, actually.
8. "FREEDOM" (Stephen Barker Liles, Jay Joyce, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
Stephen: It's an anthem and it's hilarious. It's a picture of this guy--me--waking up on the couch, smelling smoke from the party the night before, thinking, "So this is the freedom I wanted. This is what it's like being by myself." I was in a relationship and I kind of bailed early, and you have second thoughts, like "Wow! Is this really what I wanted to do?" It's the struggle between, "Do I like being on my own or would I prefer that comfortable place with that beautiful lady that meant a lot to me?"
9. "SLOW DOWN" (Brian Bandas, Eric Gunderson, Robert Ellis Orrall)
Brian: The song "Slow Down" is written as if one could talk directly to life itself. It expresses a feeling I've wrestled with a lot, particularly when I first moved to Nashville. It's about feeling overwhelmed by the way life moves and changes so quickly. It seems that just as we start to feel at home in our own lives, physically or otherwise, something inevitably changes. This feeling is certainly amplified by the circumstances Love and Theft is in. They're great circumstances, but it's a whirlwind! We're trying to say "Hold on a minute! I'm trying to take this all in and it's changing every day!" It's that internal struggle, feeling like life is just flying by and trying to reconcile that.
10. "ME WITHOUT YOU" (Stephen Barker Liles, Canaan Smith, Jeff Coplan)
Stephen: My friend Canaan Smith and I were at a wedding in Mississippi, and the night before, with a bunch of people in the house watching a movie or playing video games, we said, "Let's write. We may be able to pull some of the romance vibe from the wedding." So we went in this tiny room and I remember being in a beanbag chair. He had the line "Like a thundercloud without a chance of rain/Like a stretch of sandy beach without the waves/It's like I'm spinning my wheels down a lonely interstate/Me without you." I was like, "Hey! Let's write that!" It really came together fast.
11. "DROWNING" (Eric Gunderson, Stephen Barker Liles, Jeff Coplan)
Eric: We had watched an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" the night before and someone was drowning, reaching up through the water, one last-ditch effort to ask someone to save him. We kind of wrote it from that perspective, about that place of desperation, of crying out for help. Stephen: Eric had a studio in his house and we went up there and recorded it. We thought it would sound good with his low, raspy voice, and Brian did the low harmonies and I came in with the highs. We listened back and said, "Oh my gosh! That's the Love and Theft sound! Whatever just happened, we need to recreate that and keep writing on that vibe." That's the song that started us down the path.