Scotty McCreery’s “You Time” made an unusual, and decidedly 2020, live arrival into the world on Sept. 4, when the singer debuted it at the Ryman as part of the first performance that either he or the historic venue had been a part of in months. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nashville in early March, McCreery took the stage in front of a live (albeit masked, spaced out and smaller than usual) crowd.
“It was awesome,” McCreery tells Country Now. “It was everything I wanted it to be and more. The fact that we got to have people in there safely, like, actual, live human bodies in the room instead of staring at a computer screen to play, it was amazing.”
In addition to the simple joy of just getting back in front of a live audience again, McCreery’s Ryman show gave him a chance to debut his new song live — an opportunity rarely afforded to artists these days.
“You Time” was written pre-pandemic, and it speaks to a distinctly pre-pandemic problem: How difficult it can be for two busy people in love to find some quality time to spend together. And like much of McCreery’s catalogue, it was inspired by his wife, Gabi.
“I was so busy a couple of years ago, when we wrote it. [I was] coming off of ‘Five More Minutes,’ trying to build off that, and we were just on the road — go, go, go,” he remembers. “And Gabi was a pediatric nurse working days and night shifts. So we weren’t getting a lot of ‘You Time.’ That’s where the song came from.”
“Nowadays, we’re getting a ton of it!” he adds with a laugh.
Even before the pandemic hit, McCreery and his wife had built more “You Time” into their 2020 schedule. The singer was gearing up to go on tour with Chris Young, and his wife had just taken off from the hospital where she worked, intending to spend the entire summer on the road with her husband.
“She’d never done that before. She’d come out for a weekend, but never, like, road dog it all year. So that was our plan,” he continues. “We had all these plans, and you know, obviously, here we are.”
McCreery wrote “You Time” with Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis, two collaborators who’ve contributed to some of the biggest, most monumental hits of his career. Rogers co-wrote
“Five More Minutes,” McCreery’s first No. 1 hit. Both Rogers and Eshuis are also credited on “This is It,” the singer’s proposal song to his wife.
“I love that team of writers,” McCreery says. “Honestly, we just walked into the room and were talking about life and where we were at…I think you’re just a little more comfortable and willing to open up in the writing room — you know be vulnerable and pour your heart out, to people that you know instead of somebody that you don’t necessarily know.”
Having that level of trust with your co-writers is important for any artist. For McCreery, whose songs are known for being personal and true to life, it’s essential.
“I really love just writing about where I’m at in life. I’m not the guy that can just pull something from thin air and write a song about it. I gotta know it. I gotta live it, love it, that kinda thing,” he continues. “So I do write a lot of personal songs. That’s just my nature.”
It will likely come as no surprise to fans that McCreery’s next album will feature plenty of those personal, true-to-life lyrics. But the singer adds that while he had a hand in penning every song on his last album, Seasons Change, his next project will feature some outside cuts. With the songs he didn’t write, McCreery adds, he’ll do some experimenting with some different subject matter, going beyond the kinds of lyrics that are strictly true to life.
“There’s five outside cuts that I just thought really spoke to me, and might not be as specific [to my life or my relationship], but they’re on the record because they’re great songs and I love them and they fit where I’m at in life right now,” he says.
Having already put out an album made up entirely of songs he co-wrote, McCreery feels that he’s done a good job of introducing fans to his body of work. Now, he’s got a little bit of room to try on different musical hats.
“I think once you establish yourself out there and people know you, you still wanna stay true to that. But you can experiment a little bit, too,” he points out.
And while he’s looking ahead to the release of his next body of work, McCreery says that it might still be a little while before he’s ready to release his next album. In the meantime, he’s excited to let his new single have its moment in the limelight.
“We’ve got a lot of [the album] done, but we still have a ways to go,” he explains. “I would guess we’re gonna let ‘You Time’ have its life. And hopefully, fingers crossed, move up the charts. And then the album will follow that. So it might be a few months.”