Luke Combs Reveals the Story Behind ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ And How It Almost Landed In The Hands Of Eric Church
It appears that Combs and Church both fell in love with the emotionally-charged tune.
Luke Combs, Eric Church; Photos by Andrew Wendowski
Luke Combs’ next single “Where The Wild Things Are” is officially set to impact country radio on October 16. While it fits seamlessly into Combs’ collection of storytelling tunes, it turns out that the track was previously on hold and almost cut by Eric Church.
Before the song officially impacts airwaves, the country superstar sat down with a few of his frequent collaborators – Dan Isbell, Jonathan Singleton, Ray Fulcher, Chip Matthews and Rob Williford – to discuss how it ultimately landed in his hands.
Story Behind The Song
“Where the Wild Things Are” was co-written by Randy Montana and Dave Turnbull and had apparently been floating around town for a few years, just waiting to be picked up and brought to life. While Combs admits he felt a strong connection to the narrative, he’s not the only one who felt that way because Singleton and Isbell confirmed Eric Church also had his eye on the heroic tale.
“He almost cut it…I couldn’t believe that song couldn’t land somewhere,” Isbell shared, noting the fact that it had been circling the industry for a while before finally being recorded by Combs.
“At the time, nobody was cutting story songs at all, really. I mean, outside of Eric Church, probably,” Combs added.
Similar Musical Taste
It’s no surprise that Combs and Church have similar music taste as the two have their fair share of things in common. They both hail from North Carolina and both attended Appalachian State University. Plus, Combs has always been open about the fact that he considers Church to be one of his longtime musical heroes.
During a previous episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s USA Network Television series, Straight Up Steve Austin, Combs admitted that back in college, he had put country music on the back burner and instead became more focused on the popular tunes among his friends.
“I think the reason that myself and my parents stopped listening to country music is it wasn’t, at that moment in time, as relatable. A lot of guys got heavy into The Beach, it was getting more poppy sounding at that time,” Combs shared honestly in a clip previewing the episode. “And not to say I’m Merle Haggard, because I’m not, I’m not claiming to be that either, but that was the big shift.”
Inspired By Church’s Music
He went on to explain that it was Eric Church’s music that really changed his perspective on country music. Not only did Church’s journey reignite Combs’ his love for the genre, but it also inspired him to pursue a career of his own.
“When I got to Appalachian State, a guy that lived on my floor brought in an Eric Church CD and said, ‘Hey this guy went to college here, you should check him out,’” he continued. “Once I heard Eric, I was like, ‘This is something I can relate to, and if he can do that and he’s from here, and I’m from here, I can do that.’ And that’s kind of where the fire caught spark for lack of a better term.”
Since that moment, the pair of hitmakers have become friends and often even find themselves working together. Back in 2019, Combs and Church got together in the studio to record their duet, “Does To Me,” which appears on Combs’ chart-topping sophomore album, What You See Is What You Get.
Penned by the “Beautiful Crazy” singer with Ray Fulcher and Tyler Reeve, “Does To Me” became an instant hit among the superstars’ fanbases and even scored Combs his eighth consecutive No. 1 single.
“Does To Me”
“Where The Wild Things Are” marks the latest single from Combs’ latest album, Gettin’ Old. Captivating the true talent of a storyteller, the song is sung from the perspective of someone who is paying tribute to their brother’s free spirit. The character at hand describes hearing from his sibling and his adventures out West, where “the wild things are.” Combs’s powerful vocals came to life right from the start as he embraced the character amid the heart-pounding drum beats and emotional narrative.
“My big brother rode an Indian Scout / It was black like his jacket / American Spirit hangin’ outta his mouth / Just like our daddy / He kicked started that bike one night and broke mama’s heart / He pointed that headlight west / Out where the wild things are,” he delivers in the opening verse.
However, by the end of the powerful tune, it becomes apparent that the brother, described as being “wild as the devil,” met his unfortunate fate during a motorcycle accident. Even though he had passed on, Combs delivered the message that he died living the life he loved and ended up being buried in the place that brought him so many stories and experiences.
“They said he hit that guardrail at half past three / Lit up those streets that never sleep when the sky goes dark / We buried him out in the wind ‘neath the West Coast stars / Out where the wild things are,’ Combs sings at the end of the final verse.
Much like Combs’ top-charting hit, “The Kind of Love We Make,” the North Carolina native said he was well aware of the fact that “Where the Wild Things Are” was going to be a challenging one to perform live vocally.
A Vocal Challenge
“I would argue that it’s a really tough song to sing and figure out how you would do you live,” he said honestly. “I mean, we struggle with it even in studio. But I mean that’s one of those ones that I haven’t even run with the band yet. And I’m like…what does that look like live?”
However, in both cases, Combs knew these powerful tunes would elevate his album to the next level, and his producer, Scott Moffatt helped him see the value in taking the risk.
“I remember somebody telling me, I think it was when me and Moffitt were still doing stuff and I was telling him, ‘well, we can’t do this, because I’m not going to be able to sing this thing live like this.’ And he was like, ‘dude, we can’t dumb down the record. You’ll figure it out, like, we got to make it as good as we can and you’re gonna figure it out. I promise.’ So I always remembered that.”
He added, “I don’t know how that song never get cut, because it’s an awesome, awesome song.”
Luke Combs is currently traveling overseas throughout the month of October and performing in Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland, and England as part of his massive 2023 world tour.
For more information on Luke Combs’ upcoming tour dates, visit his official website HERE.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.