Rising Country Artist George Birge Talks About His Breakthrough Hit “Mind On You,” His Debut Album, And Writing His Songs

George Birge
George Birge

Singer/songwriter George Birge came to a pivotal point in his career with his new hit single, “Mind On You.” His team had pitched the song he co-wrote to country star Jason Aldean, and seeing the song’s potential, Aldean snapped it up within 24 hours of hearing it. It seemed like a sure thing to a smash hit for Birge, who had been struggling to make it in Nashville.

However, a few months after Aldean accepted the song, Birge was signed to his own record deal, and the label’s head felt “Mind On You” had the potential to kick off the newcomer’s career in a big way. Should he let the song remain in Aldean’s hands, or gamble on himself and record it for his album? Reluctantly, Birge asked for it back, and now that bet is paying off with Birge’s first Top 5 hit on the Billboard charts, and it could be heading to #1.

“Mind On You” is spotlighted on the Austin, Texas native’s debut album, George Birge: Mind on You, that features almost all songs penned by Birch. It includes his viral TikTok hit “Beer Beer, Truck Truck,” the romantic “Forever And a Day,” and the slow-burner “Chasin’ A Feeling.”

Notably, Birge has collaborated with hit female artist and fellow Texan RaeLynn on “Whiskey Go ‘Round,” and opened for Bobby Bones’ “Comedically Inspirational” shows in Nashville and Las Vegas. He’s also gone on tour and supported Brantley Gilbert, Jake Owen, Gary Allan, and Scott McCreery. And as a songwriter, Birge has co-written with Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox, Chris Lane, Matt Stell, Clay Walker, and Colt Ford.

We are pleased to present this new Q&A interview with George Birge. He talks about the musical influences he had growing up in Austin, Texas, touring with a musical hero (Gary Allan), and what kept him striving to make it in Nashville for so long. Birge also tells the stories behind his songs “Mind on You” and “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.”

BC: You must be excited about the success of your debut album. Some artists say that first album is a mini-autobiography of their life to this point.

George Birge:  I think that’s exactly right. It’s a collection of stories so far, right? So it’s where you’re at in life at the moment. But I think the cool part about a first record is that it’s also everything that got you to that point in life too. So it’s the highs and the lows, and some of it is not where I’m at right now, but where I was and went through. I think that’s the cool part about that first album is it’s your whole life cycle kind of until now.

Here’s the video of George Birge’s hit, “Mind On You.”

BC: When did you first start enjoying music as a kid?

Birge: I grew up in Austin, Texas, so it’s kind of in your veins. It was one of those things as a kid going out to concerts, and you’re surrounded by it all the time. I remember specifically riding to school in the morning and listening to the radio in my dad’s truck. That was the first time where I was like…yeah, this is what I want to do [for a career]. This will make me feel something, hearing stories and the way that you kind of relax and forget about the real world. I would always sing along either in the truck or at home, and it wasn’t one of those things that I made the conscious decision, yes, I’m going to do it. It was something I always did and wanted to be part of.

BC: Who were some of the country music artists that you keyed in on?

Birge: Gary Allan was huge for me. I felt like he had so much emotion in his music. You felt it when he sang it, and I think there was a cool, smoky, gritty texture to his music as well that made me fall in love with it. George Strait is probably as pure a vocal as I’ve ever heard and obviously, he’s cut some of the best songs in Nashville for a super long time. So his standards may never be touched again. So especially growing up in Texas, he had a special influence on me. My folks actually used to go dance at the Broken Spoke in Austin to George Strait before he had a record deal or anything. So, I feel like I’m cut from that cloth. And then, more modern, Jason Aldean.

BC: Didn’t you open for Gary Allan at one point?

Birge: When things started taking off for me, one of the biggest booking agencies in Nashville, William Morris, signed me based on the heat that I had. They wanted to know who I wanted to go out on tour with. I said I want to go with Mr. Gary Allan. Two weeks later I was on the road with Gary Allen. That was pretty surreal for me. The second night we were on tour together, I hit up his tour manager and said I’d like to meet him after the show. They say a lot of times don’t meet your idols. A lot of times you’ll be disappointed, but it was the exact opposite with him. He invited me back on the bus, and we played guitar until two in the morning. We became pretty close friends, and we still talk relatively often and play golf and go out on the lake together. He’s had a pretty awesome mentoring influence on me, so to get to call him a friend now is pretty surreal.

Here’s the video of George Birge’s viral hit, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.”

BC: I read that you started writing songs as early as fifth grade. How did you get the bug to do that at such a young age?

Birge: It was something that I always loved, and it’s something that you grow up with in Austin. It’s like everybody’s in a band, and everybody’s playing their own music. You start off writing songs, and they’re not great. But I think not having that stigma of being embarrassed to write your own songs was such a blessing in Austin, because you come out of the gate just writing songs. And that’s what everybody does, so you learn how to polish them and make them better and help them land and connect with people. The first hundred songs you write you throw them away…they’re not worth anything. But then you start figuring out what works and how to make it special and how to turn a phrase. That was a really cool part about growing up in Austin.

BC: After you moved to Nashville, you were here about eight years before things started to happen for your career. What kept you going?

Birge: It was hard to keep going for sure. They call Nashville a 10-year town, and I think that gives you a little perspective on how hard it is to make it. This October was actually nine years for me, so I’m trying to make it a year ahead of schedule (laughs). There’s definitely highs and lows. Now that the song is starting to work, I’m on the heels of having my first-ever hit. Everybody’s like…you’re an overnight success or you came out of nowhere and you’re having all this success. People don’t see that it is absolutely grueling on the way up, because not only is it nine years after I got my first record deal, but it was probably another nine before that, learning how to play and write songs and play live shows.

I started to question whether it’s the right decision. Is this ever going to work? There’s hundreds of people in this town that deserve a record deal that haven’t got one. Sometimes you feel like it might not ever come, but I have my wife who believed in me the entire time, even when I wanted to quit. As you mature, there’s more pressure. We have a couple of kids, and I thought, “Oh, man! I need to support the family, and I want to buy a house.” You want to be a good father and husband too. The fact that they never once wavered on that support and always believed in me, gave me the confidence to just be myself unapologetically. I think once I was able to stop trying to copy what’s working on the radio or do what A&R is influencing me to do, that’s when it took off in a major way. And I attribute all of that to my family.

Here’s the video of George Birge’s song, “Forever and a Day.”

BC: You had the viral hit with your song, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.” I understand the idea started from a social media post.

Birge:  Yes. I was writing with Clay Walker for his record and I was asking him for his advice. I was considering giving up the artist [side]. He’s like, “Dude, you need to put some songs on TikTok,” which is not advice that you’d expect to get from Clay Walker, right? But I ended up trying it out and I got on the app, and the first video I saw was this woman making fun of country music in a light-hearted way on a post.  She basically said that it ain’t nothing but beer beer, truck truck and girls in tight jeans. As a country songwriter, I got this wild hair to defend country music…I turned her post into a song, and it went pretty wildly viral and got the attention of record labels, and I had a bunch of fans ask me to put out the full version of it. So Clay Walker gave me some pretty good advice.

BC: Your new single, “Mind On You” is doing killer, moving up the charts. How did that song develop?

Birge: It’s crazy. I think we’re Top 5 this week. I wrote it in 2020 right off the heels of “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” taking off. I hadn’t really put all the pieces together yet and wasn’t ready to put that out as an artist. So I had someone pitch it to Jason Aldean, and 24 hours later I got an email back saying, “Don’t play this song for anyone else. He wants to put it on his record,” which as I told you, he’s one of my idols.  He’s fresh off being named Entertainer of the Year. I thought…Man, this is insane. So I’m so excited about that.

Fast forward six months and I end up signing a record deal. I’m on the phone with the head of the label, and he’s like, “Man, you got to ask for the song back. This song could change your life.” They were super kind and gave it back to me, and let me put it out with my own name on it. And it ended up being the most added song in America at country radio. It’s insane to think about for an artist making his debut solo at country radio and then it kept cruising and was my first top 40, my first top 20, and now we’re sitting at number 5, hopefully on the way to our first number one.

BC: When you were first writing “Mind On You,” did you realize there’s something special about this?

Here’s the video of George Birge & RaeLynn’s song, “Whiskey Go ‘Round.”

Birge: We knew that it was something.  I wrote it with Colt Ford, who is one of my best friends, and with Jaron Boyer and Michael Tyler, who also are some of the first big writers to believe in me and my closest friends too. So, getting to celebrate with those guys on the journey, that’s been the coolest, and we actually ended up all taking a picture together that day. I said, ‘Hey, let’s remember this day; I feel like we might have done something.’  I still have that picture in my phone, which is pretty special to me. But we knew it was something when we walked out of that room that day.

BC:  I guess you’re excited for fans to hear all the other songs on the album too. Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are one or two songs that you’d like to talk about?

Birge: I’ve got this song called “Forever and a Day” that was really special to me. I don’t do love songs very well. I feel I always come across, like it’s not authentically me. But I have a beautiful wife, and I feel like she deserved a love song. So, I made it. It’s a little grittier than most love songs and has a little more attitude. It’s more authentically me. That one I’m really proud of, and I’ve got a song called “Cowboys Talkin’” coming early next year that I feel like is a complete game changer sonically. I think it’s going to solidify even more my lane and my sound. I’m really proud of it. I think it builds on “Mind On You,” but also just plants the flag as far as who I am and my direction. I’ve been teasing that one a little bit.

BC: How does the songwriting process work for you?

Birge: I’m always trying to do with a song…to say something that you’ve heard a million times before in a way that you’ve never heard it before. It’s creatively capturing the every day. The reason songs are magic is because everybody can relate to them. Other people can take that song and put it into their lives. You want to find that thing that everybody has experienced before, but maybe say it in a way that they’ve never heard it before. I think there’s genius in the simplicity of that. It’s way easier to say than to do, but when you can find that magic, that’s what makes a song special to me.

Here’s the link to George Birge’s site: https://www.georgebirge.com/

Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].