Story Behind The Song: Billy Currington – “Hey Girl”

Rhett Akins is not only a 90s Country Music hitmaker (like fellow smash writer David Lee Murphy) but he’s also known as 1/3 of The Peach Pickers. In this exclusive to Roughstock, he discusses writing the new Billy Currington hit with Chris DeStefano (“Good Girl”) and Ashley Gorley (“Crash My Party”). 

“I wrote this song with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley in December of 2011,” Akins tells Roughstock. “It was the first I ever wrote with both of them. I knew Ashley. I had been friends with him, and we had always wanted to write together. I just met Chris the week before. He lives in L.A. and was flying back and forth to Nashville. He had written a bunch of songs for Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and he had a lot of pop success. When I met him the week before, I said, ‘Are we going to write a pop song? Something for Kelly Clarkson?’ He goes, ‘No, I want to write a country song.’ I didn’t really know how it was going to go. 

“I got there and Ashley had this title called ‘Hey Girl,’ and Chris sort of had a little melody mapped out,” Akins recalls. “We just sat there and wrote it. It’s really melodic. Ashley is one of the most melodic songwriters I’ve ever written with. He has unbelievably great melodies. It’s just a song about meeting a girl in a bar somewhere and throwing out your best pick-up line. He didn’t really have any because he’s so tongue-tied about how pretty this girl is, so he says, ‘The only thing I can think to say is ‘hey girl’’ [laughs].  

“The cool thing about Chris is that he makes his own demos in his office,” continues Akins. “We don’t go to a studio and use a band; Chris plays everything. I’ve never written with anybody who can do that in one day. When I sang the song that afternoon, I thought it would be a couple of weeks before I got the track back, but I literally got it back by midnight that night. I didn’t know that’s how they do it in L.A. and New York and Miami and other places. I figured it would at least be a month before I heard the song. Immediately, Brian Wright from Universal fell in love with the song, and he said, ‘Man, this is a smash … I think Billy Currington could kill this song.’ It wasn’t my first thought, because it didn’t sound like the songs that Billy had been doing. Billy’s pretty country, and this song has a little more pop flavor to it because of Chris, obviously. But Brian Wright fought and fought and fought for this song. He said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to get Billy Currington to cut this song.’ And he did! Here we are, it’s his first single.”

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