Don’t Handcuff Yourself: Keith Urban & “Cop Car”

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Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

I’ve been a big fan of “Cop Car” ever since I heard Sam Hunt’s version on his album, “Between The Pines.” The songwriters are Hunt, Zach Crowell, and Matt Jenkins. Melodically, I think it’s great- it’s hooky, fresh, and modern. Sounds like a hit. Plus, it’s a title that makes you curious- what is it about a cop car? Today, let’s look at what they did with the lyric – and how the songwriters didn’t handcuff their chances of getting a big hit.

First of all, the title, “Cop Car,” could’ve gone the hellraisin’ “I’m running from a cop car” route. That might be the first thing that pops into your mind: party in a field, cops show up, and now we’re running. But they broadened the appeal by making it about LOVE. “I fell in love in the back of a cop car.”

Secondly, they also made it YOUNG- “your daddy’s gonna kill me.” That just aims at a bigger bullseye- the market wants young, and that what the writers provided.

Thirdly (and this is the biggie), the made it INNOCENT. The writers could’ve written about how the singer got in a drunken brawl and somehow got cuffed and stuffed with some drunken hooker. Ooookay, interesting, yes. But who’s going to cut that? Or maybe the characters were underage drinking at a party or in a parking lot.  Or maybe they just raised “too much hell” and got arrested. Better, but maybe still too limiting.

Instead, all the characters did was trespass to hang out and watch the planes take off. There’s no mention of alcohol. They’re just a couple of kids- certainly not hoodlums. This really softens the line, “I fell in love in the back of a cop car.” Many, many male artists in Nashville could’ve sung this lyric.

They actually made getting cuffed in the back of a cruiser ROMANTIC. That’s a great job of taking a title or hook line and writing it in a very commercial way. Very well done!

God Bless,

Brent

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Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

4 thoughts on “Don’t Handcuff Yourself: Keith Urban & “Cop Car””

  1. that was a refreshing way to tell a story song about new love. of course I love Keith Urban so he could sing about a bug in a rug and be cute about it. but personally for me the song is one that I would not want to hear all over again.

  2. I have been digging Sam Hunt so I downloaded his free album on his site and me and my wife fell instantly in love because of “House Party” which is us to a tee haha. But I was reading about this song and Sam said it was based on a true story and he was asking the girl her point of view and drew inspiration off of her, even though the song wasn’t his idea to begin with. Just goes to show you you can turn bad situations into great songs.

    1. Matt, Thanks for the insight. Yeah, that’s a cool song. Sam’s killing it right now/ he also has the new Billy Currington single, “We Are Tonight.”

      Sent from my iPhone

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