When Chris Young took the stage with Gavin DeGraw for an episode of CMT Crossroads, magic happened. But nothing sounded quite as good with their vocals together as "Drowning," Young's poignant single, written about the loss of one of Young's good friends.
“To see other people put people that they've lost into that and make that song theirs and make that something that means the world to them because they're thinking about someone that they knew, I think it is the highest compliment you can get when you write a song like that,” Young told Billboard. “Being able to pull that emotion out of people on a live TV taping when it's you and a friend sitting down on piano and the two of us trading back and forth on that song to still carry that weight for people is a huge compliment. It was just a very, very magical point of that night for me.”
DeGraw took some creative liberties with "Drowning," which Young was thrilled to incorporate into their live performance.
“He took some note choices that I never would have picked that I really, really love,” Young acknowledged. “I think the emotion of that song comes across really, really well in that moment. The fact that he took [‘Drowning’] and made it his own, makes that version of it something special that you won't see anywhere else.”
When Young previously performed "Drowning," on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, he wasn't able to finish it because of the story behind the song.
"When I sang it on the Opry, it's about a friend of mine that passed away," Young told PopCulture.com. "I've never really written anything like that before. I've been fine every single time that I've sung it, until that night. I just came apart as I got to the second verse. I was like, 'Oh man. I'm gonna cry.' And I did. And so I turned around to reset, and then everybody stood up and started clapping. We just played the rest of the song out. But it's an incredibly powerful song."
Young helped direct the video for "Drowning," which was also used to honor victims and survivors of the tragic Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. The CMT Crossroads episode with Young and DeGraw will premiere on Dec. 13 at 10 p.m. ET on CMT.
Photo Credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images for CMT