Keith Urban is by now well-versed in making music, and making music well. The 51-year-old has been making music for most of his life, continuing to reinvent himself as he blurs the genre lines of country music.
So it might seem surprising that Urban admits that he still has trouble when it comes time to write music, maybe now more than ever.
"[I create] by not being obsessively plugged in to begin with," Urban told American Country Countdown. "Sort of staying a little bit on the — not the periphery of it, but just not all in, all the time, 24/7. I think you just have to keep a balance in everything really, because it is a challenging time to create because there's so many people ready to just 'yuck your yum' [laughing]. And, you can't let that stop you for lots of reasons.
"You've got to be able to express," he continued. "You've got to be true, fully unfiltered true in your art, and what it is you want to say. But also it can be art that people really need. I'm talking about poetry or photography or movies or books or anything — the naysayers may very well be the people that need it the most, so it's imperative to be allowed to write and create freely."
Urban's latest album, Graffiti U, like his past few projects, showed off some of his rock and pop influences as well. For Urban, the blend of genres makes more sense than being confined to one kind of music.
"The listener is always going to decide what genre it fits into," Urban told Rolling Stone Country. "I've always made music that has felt not as country necessarily, that someone in Nashville may say, 'Oh, this isn't very country,' but everybody else would say, 'That's totally country. What else is it?' It's all relative to where you are, what you're immersed in, and how you define genres as a listener."
Urban's current single, "We Were," references a Def Leppard classic with the lyric, "We were her on my shoulders, lighter in the air / 'Pour Some Sugar On Me.'" The song, which Eric Church co-wrote, resonated so strongly with Urban, even though he didn't write it.
"When I first heard 'We Were,' I not only heard it, but saw it. It made me feel something," Urban said of the song. "The imagery is so strong — a stamp on the back of the hand, a Saturday night cover band, the girlfriend (or boyfriend) we ran with and a fake ID, which of course I never had. So many of us can relate or will relate at some point."
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Erika Goldring