Chris Janson just earned his first three CMA Awards nominations, for New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Music Video of the Year, the latter two for Janson's current single, "Drunk Girl."
"'Drunk Girl' is a true story for a lot of people," Janson says of the song, which he wrote with Tom Douglas and Scooter Carusoe. "We didn't really know the longevity or the depth or perception the song would take on in the world, but it has really changed a lot of lives, which is pretty amazing, starting with ours.
It was Douglas who brought the idea to Janson. Several years ago, Douglas gave the commencement speech at the all-boys Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, where his son attended. In his speech, Douglas said, "Boys, you're going to be in a position in college where a young lady is going to be over-served, and when that happens, be a gentleman and take the drunk girl home.'"
The songwriter forgot about the line until several years later, when he was teaching a songwriting class in prison, and the sheriff was at the graduation where Douglas spoke.
"There are a lot of young men in this jail that wouldn't be spending the next 35 years of their life in this institution," the sheriff told Douglas' son, who had accompanied his dad, "if they'd listened to the admonition in your dad's speech, 'Take a drunk girl home.'"
The idea resonated with Janson, who was drawn to the idea of discussing a topic that many people consider taboo.
"[It's] a subject matter that's frankly swept under the rug a lot," Janson says. "It's not usually talked about, and not shed in an amazing light all the time. Unfortunately, historically it shows that we live in a world that usually tends to lean towards the negative before the positive first. I think we put such a positive message out and exude it in the song. And when you immediately put the positive at the forefront, it really changes people's lives. It certainly changed mine."
The Grand Ole Opry member hopes "Drunk Girl" will inspire others to make the right decision, even if it goes against popular culture.
"Powerful words with a powerful message stand the test of time," says Janson. "That's evident from Tom's commencement speech. I think we ultimately want conversations to happen about this tough topic. I had a guy tell me at a meet & greet that he played the song and video for a fraternity. If we could figure out a way for that to happen all over the country, maybe it would bring about change."
Download "Drunk Girl" on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Matt Winkelmeyer