Hit Country Artist Riley Green Talks About His New Single With Luke Combs, Writing His Hit Songs, And His Upcoming Album

Riley Green
Riley Green
(photo credit: Jim Wright)

Over the past five years, country artist Riley Green has established himself as a talented singer & songwriter who’s had a string of unique, distinctive hits. First emerging in 2018 with his number one hit “There Was This Girl,” he’s been on the charts every year since, and he’s currently having a hit with his single “Different ‘Round Here,” which features vocals by country superstar, Luke Combs.

An earlier version of “Different ‘Round Here” was released in 2019, as the title cut of Green’s debut album, Different ‘Round Here (on Big Machine Records). This song has become a fan favorite and has grown in popularity, which led Green to record and release a new version that features Combs.

This summer, Green will be opening shows for Combs’ big stadium tour, and he’ll also be headlining his own shows in smaller amphitheaters and large clubs. In addition, Green is preparing to release his second album this fall.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Riley Green, who talks about his single “Different ‘Round Here,” which features Luke Combs.


Green grew up in Jacksonville, Alabama, and he independently released his first EP, Outlaws Like Us, in 2017. He started building a following, which led to him signing with Big Machine Records and releasing his next EP, Riley Green, in 2018.

It was later in 2018 that Green had a breakthrough hit with his uptempo, joyful hit, “There Was This Girl.” Then the following year, Green showed his versatility and emotional range by releasing his heartfelt ballad, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died.” Then in 2020, he had a hit with “If It Wasn’t For Trucks.”

Last year (2022), Green had another #1 hit when he sang a duet with country star Thomas Rhett on the fun, beer-drinking song, “Half of Me.” He was also on the charts with his own single, “Hell Of A Way To Go.”

In April of this year, Green released two new songs: “Raised Up Right” and “God Made A Good Ol’ Boy.”

Here’s the lyric video of Riley Green’s hit “Different
‘Round Here,” featuring Luke Combs.

Riley Green Interview
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Riley Green. He talks about his new single “Different ‘Round Here” with Luke Combs, and how he wrote his hits “There Was This Girl,” “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” and “If It Wasn’t For Trucks.”

DK: I read that you’re from Jacksonville, Alabama. How did you get started with music and writing songs?

Riley Green: Early on, I was actually more into sports than music. I played three sports in high school and a little bit of football in college. Music was just something I enjoyed. My granddaddy, Buford, was a big country music fan and he had a passion for music that he shared with me. My other granddaddy, Lyndon, was a big outdoorsman and a big fisherman. That’s kind of how we bonded.

DK: In 2017, you released your first EP, Outlaws Like Us, and then a year later you released your second EP, Riley Green. Can you talk about those early EPs and signing with Big Machine Records?

Green: At that time, I didn’t think a record deal was in the cards for me. I was just playing a lot of shows and I’d been writing songs. But I started to record some music, and people started to learn those songs and share them around on social media. Then Big Machine started coming to shows, along with some other record labels, and we were selling a lot of tickets. So there was something about the songs that I was putting out that helped me build that following.

DK: In 2018, you had a big hit with “There Was This Girl.” Can you talk about writing that song?

Green: I wrote that song with Erik Dylan, who I’ve written a lot of songs with. We started writing a song about us trying to impress the girl, so that was the idea. It was one of those songs that came together pretty easily, and I didn’t know what we had as far as a radio hit. But it was definitely a fun song and we had a good time shooting the video. It turned out to be my first number one, and a big song for me to this day.

DK: A year later, you released your album, Different ‘Round Here, and your song “Different ‘Round Here” has grown in popularity. Can you talk about that album and writing that song?

Here’s the video of Riley Green’s hit, “There Was This Girl.”

Green: That was my debut album, in the sense of having a record deal, with producers, and going to radio. So it was definitely a big change from what I’d been doing musically on my own. But at the same time, it was all songs that I’d written, and “Different Round Here” was one of them. It was one of my favorites from the beginning, and it ended up being a big song for me, prior to re-recording it and going to radio with it and adding a feature with Luke Combs. It’s a song with a lot of meaning that seems to resonate with fans really well.

Ever since we originally released the song a few years ago, we have seen so many military families, athletes, and hard-working everyday people use the song in their own videos. It has also been one of those songs that proud hometown fans sing along to the loudest, night after night. While up in Canada with Luke at the end of last year, we saw the same thing and it felt right re-releasing it together.

DK: I like your song “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” which has such a unique, heartfelt lyric. What inspired you to write this song?

Green: Well pretty simply, my granddaddy Lyndon passed away, and I wrote down the title. Shortly thereafter, I ended up writing that song. I had no idea what that song was going to turn into. It’s still one of the biggest songs that I ever put out. It seems to have a lot of meaning, and means a lot to people.

DK: Another hit for you was “If It Wasn’t For Trucks.” Can you talk about writing this song and your love for trucks?

Green: Obviously, there’s been a couple songs written about trucks in country music, and when you go with a certain subject matter, you want to do it from a place that’s kind of new. And for me, it was thinking about things that probably wouldn’t have happened to me if it hadn’t been for that first truck. Or opportunities or moments I wouldn’t have had, and how different my life would be. That’s where the idea for that song came from.

DK: Last year, you had a big hit with Thomas Rhett on “Half Of Me.” How did you hook up with Thomas on this song?

Here’s the audio of Riley Green’s hit, “I Wish Grandpas Never Died.”

Green: Oddly enough, I saw him at an awards show, and he asked me to go on a fish and duck hunt. He’d never been duck hunting before and he wanted to go on a trip, so I took him to a place in Arkansas. We sat around and wrote some that night, and talked about some songs we might do together. And when I got “Half of Me,” it seemed like a big hit. It’s a really fun song and it was my first collaboration with Thomas.

DK: Two months ago, you released two new songs: “Raised Up Right’ and “God Made A Good ‘Ol Boy.” Can you talk about these songs?

Green: “Raised Up Right” was pretty anthemic, about the way I grew up back home and some of the values I learned growing up in a small town. “God Made A Good Ol’ Boy” was along the same lines, but a lot more lighthearted and more fun, kind of honky-tonky and twangy, which turned out great in the studio.

DK: Are you working on a new EP or a full album?

Green: We’re actually working on a full album right now. I think we’re looking at 12 or 13 songs on it, and putting it out in early fall. I just got done with vocals. I’m really excited about it.

DK: I want to ask you about your live shows. This summer you’ll be headlining some shows, and you’re also opening for Luke Combs on his big stadium tour. Can you talk about your live shows and tour?

Green: Yeah obviously, those are two different shows. Being out with Luke Combs playing stadiums is an awesome opportunity, and anytime you can go out and play a sold-out stadium is a big deal and you’re in front of a lot of folks. So that’s a great tour to be on. But it’s also nice to be able to headline my own shows around that. I’ll be playing in some bigger clubs and small amphitheaters, which is nice because you get that intimate setting for a show. And then you also have the big stadium shows, so it’s a really good combination to tour this summer.

DK: As I listen to your songs, you have your own lyrical style and you have good detail in your writing. Do you take a lot of pride in writing these unique lyric stories?

Green: I take a lot of pride in writing songs that have a meaning to me, and seem to have a meaning to other people. It’s cool when you write stuff like “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” that are personal to my situation about how I grew up and my relationship with my granddaddies. And that many people can find a way to relate to it and make it about their own lives. I try to find ways to write songs that are very specific to me, but can also be something that other people can relate to.

Here’s the link to Riley Green’s site: https://www.rileygreenmusic.com/

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima