Long before Cole Swindell was known as one of country music's biggest stars, charting seven consecutive No. 1 singles, he was an aspiring songwriter, penning songs for artists like Thomas Rhett, Scotty McCreery and Luke Bryan.
One of those songs, Beer in the Headlights, Swindell wanted to keep for himself, but reluctantly conceded to let Bryan, who had already achieved superstar status, include it on his 2013 Crash My Party album.
"Beer in the Headlights" was always one of my favorite songs that I had written," Swindell tells PopCulture.com. "I remember Luke Bryan recorded the song right as I was trying to get a record deal; I was trying to get my name out there. When you live in Nashville, you know that it's all about the song. I loved "Beer in the Headlights" so much, I wanted it for me - but I couldn't turn down letting one of the biggest names in country music record it.
"He did such a great job on it that I said, 'You know what, if I'm going to be an artist, the next song I write that I love as much as 'Beer in the Headlights,' I've got to keep it for myself," he continues. "A couple months later I wrote "Chillin' It," and here we are now. I'm so thankful for Luke and his amazing version of that song - and I'm glad I still get to play it."
"Beer in the Headlights," is on Swindell's latest Down Home Sessions IV album, along with acoustic versions of four other songs he wrote, including Bryan's "Roller Coaster"and "This Is How We Roll," recorded by Florida Georgia Line along with Bryan.
"This year we're in the middle of album No.3 and I was struggling with that," Swindell concedes. "I was like, 'I don't know if I need to do one this year, or if I need to take it off and just focus on the album.' But we had this idea, what if I took my band in the studio, and stripped it down, acoustic, and played songs that I wrote for other people?
"That's what this fourth Down Home Sessions is about; songs that I wrote that got my name out there and got me here to where I am," he adds. "It's going to be cool. I think a lot of people might know that I wrote some of these songs, but some people may not. There's new country music fans every day, so to put my spin for the fans to hear my version of the songs, is a cool deal."
Swindell will wrap up his Down Home Tour on Jan. 27, and then kick off his headlining Reason to Drink Tour on Feb. 15, with Lauren Alaina and Chris Janson serving as his opening acts. A list of all of Swindell's upcoming shows is available on his website. Download Down Home Sessions IV on iTunes.