This year, Blake Shelton is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his hit “Austin” with a special commemorative vinyl of the song. Blake enjoys immense popularity as a country entertainer and as a mainstay on the hit TV show The Voice. But if Blake hadn’t connected with Bobby Braddock, he might not be a household name. Bobby helped Blake land a record deal and produced Blake’s early albums, including his self-titled debut album featuring the song “Austin.”
As a renowned songwriter, Bobby is credited with many hits including “He Stopped Loving Her Today” written for George Jones, which ranks on many fan-voted surveys as the greatest country songs of all time. Another Braddock-penned hit also frequently makes those same lists — “Golden Ring.” George and wife Tammy Wynette had recently divorced lending the song an unmatched ache of authenticity.
“I took Blake to every label in town,” Bobby told Circle, “and the last one I took him to signed him. But when ‘Austin’ came out, the label folded. Blake was racing up the country charts without a label! Warner Bros. was part owner of the label that folded. They ended up signing Blake. ‘Austin’ became the biggest debut record in 10 years, since ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ a decade earlier. It spent five weeks at #1 in the country charts and made the pop Top 20.”
The album also included the hit “Ol’ Red” (which became the name of Blake’s own multi-location restaurant/music venue he opened with Opry Entertainment Group). The song was pitched to him while painting a house.
“Who would’ve known that within two weeks of moving to Nashville as a 17-year-old kid, I would’ve already found my signature song, like magic, like what you read about,” Blake said recently in an interview with Lon Helton.
Since Blake loved little rap expressions, Bobby penned a song with him in mind.
“I remember just being so blown away,” Blake said. “I thought the song was crazy, but I thought it was funny, and we went in and to cut it for my album.”
It was in consideration to be the first single, but the record label sent several songs to a focus group. The focus group panned it. Not only would it not be the first single, it wouldn’t make the album at all.
Producer James Stroud was looking for songs for Toby Keith. Bobby played him the rejected song. Toby quickly recorded it, and it skyrocketed to number one. The song was “I Wanna Talk About Me.”
Bobby told Circle,“’I Wanna Talk About Me’ was the first #1 country rap song. As far as I know there have only been two, the other one was 10 years later, Jason Aldean’s ‘Dirt Road Anthem,’ written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert.”
Even two decades in, Bobby and Blake definitely still give us plenty to talk about!