Scotty McCreery Talks About His New Album, Same Truck, His Hits “Damn Strait” and “You Time,” And Writing His Songs

Scotty McCreery
Scotty McCreery
(photo credit: John Shearer)

Since winning American Idol 10 years ago at the age of 17, Scotty McCreery has been an acclaimed, country singer/songwriter who’s had a steady flow of hits on the charts. His previous album, Seasons Change, had three number one hits, and he’s off to a good start with the release of his new album, Same Truck (on Triple Tigers Records), and his current hit, “You Time.”

McCreery won American Idol based on his ability as a strong singer & performer. He is known for his distinctive lead vocals, which has a rich, deep and soulful quality to it. In addition, during the past decade he has developed into a talented songwriter, who is capable of expressing his thoughts and personal vision in his songs. Notably, he now co-writes most of the songs on his albums, and he’s co-written most of his hit singles.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Scotty McCreery, who discusses the making of his new album, Same Truck, and what inspired him to write his current hit, “You Time.”

McCreery co-wrote 10 of the 12 songs on his new album, Same Truck, including his hit “You Time,” which is a fun, upbeat song about spending time with his wife, Gabi. He also co-wrote the title song “Same Truck,” plus other excellent songs such as “It Matters To Her,” “The Waiter,” “Carolina to Me,” “Small Town Girl,” and the heartfelt ballad that ends the album, “How Ya Doin’ Up There.” There’s also a potential hit that McCreery didn’t write called “Damn Strait,” which is a playful tune that pays tribute to one of his heroes, George Strait.

McCreery, who is now 27, grew up in the town of Garner, North Carolina, which is near Raleigh. He started singing as a child, and he learned to play guitar when he was 10. When he was in middle school and high school, he performed in school productions, and in 2009 he won a singing contest held by local radio station, WQDR-FM. Soon after, he entered other vocal competitions before auditioning for the 10th season of American Idol in 2011. McCreery then advanced to the final round in Hollywood, where he became the youngest male winner in the show’s history.

After winning American Idol, McCreery recorded & released his first album, Clear as Day, which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified platinum. This album included the hits “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls.”

Here’s the video of Scotty McCreery’s new hit, “You Time.”

For his second album See You Tonight (in 2013), McCreery began to take an active role in the songwriting, and he co-wrote the Top 10 hit, “See You Tonight.” Then for his third album, Seasons Change (in 2018), he co-wrote all the songs, including the #1 hits “Five More Minutes,” “This Is It” and “In Between.” Besides these album, McCreery has released a holiday album (in 2012) called Christmas with Scotty McCreery.

Scotty McCreery Interview

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Scotty McCreery. He talks about the making of his new album Same Truck, and tells how he co-wrote the songs “You Time,” “Same Truck” and other songs on his album.

DK: You won American Idol 10 years ago, when you were 17. As you look back now, what was it like to win Idol, and how has it impacted your career?

Scotty McCreery: It was an amazing experience. It was a time in my life where everything got started, and I learned a lot from that show. It was like a bootcamp for me of all things entertainment—learn how to record, rehearse, put on a show, entertain. It was all wrapped into three months in L.A., so it was pretty wild and definitely a good place to get your start. And it’s been a fun ride since.

DK: I looked at your album credits, and you co-wrote half the songs for your See You Tonight album, all the songs on Seasons Change, and most of the songs on Same Trucks. How has your songwriting developed over your last few albums?

McCreery: I think first, I had to get to Nashville and try to be a sponge, and learn from the best songwriters in the world. Even before I was on Idol, I wrote songs, although I hope they never see the light of day (laughs). Writing was something that I enjoyed doing, and it’s something I worked on and tried to hone in on. And I’ve gotten more comfortable with it as well, writing songs from the heart and personal experience, and not being shy in the writer’s room. I think that’s helped a lot, just getting more comfortable with it over the years.

Here’s the video of Scotty McCreery’s new song, “Same Truck.”

DK: For your new album, I read that you had almost finished the album before Covid hit, but then you decided to write more songs for it. Can you talk about the making of your new album?

McCreery: It felt like it took a lifetime…last year felt like five years lumped into one. We had an album finished up prior to Covid, and then the world shut down. Then we had a lot of time on our hands, so we picked up the guitar and started writing songs.

And for me, I believe that a lot of things in life are cyclical, and prior to the pandemic we were writing a bunch of songs, but in my head I didn’t think I was writing the best stuff I’d ever written. I was thinking to myself…Man, if I had written a “Five More Minutes” or “This Is It” for the album. But during the pandemic and getting into that headspace of reflection, and thinking about what’s important to me and the little things in life, I think the songs we wrote over the last year-and-a-half are some of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.

DK: I like your current hit, “You Time.” How did you and your co-writers write that song?

McCreery: “You Time” was written from personal experience and real life stuff. Being on the road as much as I am normally (before Covid), and my wife is a pediatric nurse who works in a hospital, it seemed like everytime I was home, she’d be at the hospital. And every time I was on the road, she’d be home. So for awhile, it felt like we were never seeing each other. So in this song, I’m talking about how I want to slow things down and get some you and me time with her. And then when Covid hit, I definitely got what I asked for, because we wrote that song in 2019, and in the last year we definitely got a lot of you time (laughs). That’s where the song came from.

DK: I also like your title song, “Same Truck.” You took the old theme of “we’re all in the same boat,” and made it fresh and new. What inspired you to write that song?

McCreery: I thought it was a cool way to say that message, “You know, we’re all in the same team. We’re on the same boat. Let’s build each other up instead of tearing each other down.” And we kind of countrified it. We put it in a truck, and took the song down some backroads, and wrote about different things that I grew up doing, and a lot of us grew up doing. It’s like, “Hey, we’re all doing a lot of the same things here. We’re thinking a lot of the same thoughts. And we’re all more alike than we are different.” So I took that thought and made it into a country song.

Here’s the lyric video of Scotty McCreery’s song, “Damn Strait.”

DK: On your album, “Damn Strait” is a fun song and it’s a nice tribute to George Strait. What does this song mean to you, to be singing this song and honoring George?

McCreery: Yeah, this is one of the songs on the album that I didn’t write. And for me to sing a song that I didn’t write, it has to almost feel like one that I could have written. You know…I have to believe it, and I have to feel it and love it. As soon as I heard “Damn Strait,” I was like…Man, it’s an incredible song, so well written. And I’m a massive George Strait fan. I thought that Trent Tomlinson and Jim Collins did a really good job of writing a classic country heartbreak song, all while paying homage to the king, George Strait.

DK: Another song that I like on your album is “Carolina To Me.” Was this song inspired by your love of Carolina?

McCreery: I love my home state of North Carolina. To me, it’s a little bit of heaven on Earth. I live right in Raleigh, and if you drive two hours east you get to the beach, and if you drive three hours west, you’re in the mountains. To me, it’s got everything that I want in a state, and the people there make it that much better. I just love it, and this is my way of expressing that and telling folks that. It’s a special place, and it’s like my love letter to North Carolina.

DK: Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are your favorite songs on your album?

McCreery: It’s hard to pick, but there’s a couple that stick out to me. You know, I grew up on ‘90s country, and to me “It Matters To Her” is a good ol’ pumpin’ ‘90s song, and in the song it’s all the things that I learned over the last three years of being a husband, and the little things in life that make my wife happy. It’s not like I have to take her out on crazy date nights on the town…it’s just helping out around the house. Another one I love is “The Waiter,” which I wrote in 2015. It’s one of the standouts on the record for me. It’s a story song, and it came from a real place. My co-writer Matthew West, he was walking in the park and he heard an old man that he thought was crazy, talking to himself. Then he found out he was actually praying and kind of talking to his late wife. So that’s where the song came from, and I’m glad we finally found a place for it on the record.

Here’s the video of Scotty McCreery’s new song, “Carolina To Me.”

DK: I want to ask you about your singing. You’re known for having a great singing voice. When you were growing up, did singing just come naturally to you?

McCreery: Yeah, it something that I always did. People ask me, “When did you start singing?” And I don’t have an answer for that…I don’t remember not singing. Whether it was singing in church, or whether it was me trying to be like Elvis Presley and singing all of his songs growing up. I was always was doing that…singing was something I enjoyed doing. So I’m glad this worked out because I’m not sure what I’d be doing if it didn’t.

DK: You’ve been successful and in the spotlight for a full decade now, and you’re still just 27. So how does it feel to come so far in your career, and still be young?

McCreery: It’s pretty wild…I feel like I’ve already lived a lifetime here in this industry. 10 years is a long time to get to be doing this. So I’m grateful that I can still make country music and travel the world, and people will show up and actually sing my songs back to me. It’s amazing. And I’ve definitely learned a lot about country music, about myself as a person and an artist. Hopefully, I’ll continue to grow and learn. These last 10 years have been awesome, and I’m just looking forward to the next 10.

Here’s the link to Scotty McCreery’s site:

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