video at the link of them conversation
video at the link of them conversation
A few years after Carrie Underwood made the song "Before He Cheats" into one of country music's great revenge anthems, Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins wrote her another song about justice being served.
In her 2012 hit "Blown Away" Underwood sings about a young woman who takes shelter from a tornado in her cellar — while her abusive, alcoholic father stays "passed out on the couch."
"Shatter every window 'til it’s all blown away," she belts in the chorus. "...'Til there’s nothing left standing, nothing left of yesterday."
Kear and Tompkins told the "Story Behind the Song" to Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Bart Herbison: We learned that "Before He Cheats" was intended for someone else entirely. You two started to write it for Gretchen Wilson. What about this one? Did it start as a Carrie Underwood song? Because it sure ended up there, guys!
Josh Kear: After "Before He Cheats," Carrie was always on our radar. It was our first number one together and for either of us. So when she was working on the second album, Chris and I wrote a song called "Whirlwind" that came in so late in the project. It was a ballad. They had all their ballads (for the album). They moved on. Again, it was a song we had written about a tornado.
BH: So you guys write another song about a tornado between "Before He Cheats" and "Blown Away?"
JK: Yeah. We wrote "Whirlwind" about a couple in a basement during a tornado, rediscovering each other and falling back in love with each other. People loved it, but it didn’t happen.
At the time, it was crushing and disappointing because we had really worked hard on that song. As is often the case, many of life’s biggest disappointments, if you don’t give up, will actually lead you to where you wanted to be in the first place.
In this particular case, a couple (of Underwood) albums later, Chris and I sat down and he starts playing this string patch (on a keyboard) and starts adding lightning strike (sound effects) on top of it with wind. I sit down with a sheet of paper while he’s working and wrote out, “Dry lightning cracks across the sky.”’
BH: That could have gone a completely different way! "Why the stupid storm sounds," you could have said.
JK: Chris and I had multiple conversations. Correct me if I’m wrong here, about "Whirlwind," but because Carrie was from Oklahoma, we thought maybe there was a place in her career that involved a tornado.
BH: So you just hammered the nail in, Tompkins, right?
Chris Tompkins: Yeah! After "Whirlwind," knowing all that stuff, we’re still kind of messing around. We didn’t know how stormy (the song) was about to get.
JK: When we got to the bridge and started to drop the word, ‘Oklahoma’ in, and it melodically started to feel like Carrie, we kind of knew we were either going to crush a Carrie Underwood song here or there would be no one to record this song. So, it had to be perfect for her.
BH: You’re taking a risk because you can write a song for somebody and they never (record) it, but she (recorded) this one. Why?”
JK: The first time we ended up sitting down to write with Carrie, the two of us, was right before the "Blown Away" album. We head over to her writing cabin and sit down. The three of us are getting ready to write the first time and she says, “Guys, I haven’t been feeling like making a record.”
Of course, that is not what you want to hear from an artist you are about to write with. Then she says, “At least that’s how I felt until I heard ‘Blown Away’. The minute I heard that song, I was ready to go back into the studio, because that song had to be mine.”
BH: Do you hear from the fans that (the song) has an emotional resonance (with)? I’ve heard people tell you guys that after you have played it at shows. It touches people.
CT: Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of that. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people who have been in broken homes, abusive relationships or families. It feels good to have touched on that.
BH: Is there anything we don’t know about this song?
JK: My personal favorite thing about the song is the revenge aspect of it. It’s hard to create a scenario in which somebody gets what they deserve without somebody actually having to do something to them. In this particular case, you could let nature take its course and something larger than all of us is the karmic force that creates the revenge and the payoff. That is a pretty rare thing to pull off thematically. It was fun to land on that.
That was Chris’ genius. We wrote the first verse and chorus the day we started. We left and came back, and Chris had already come up with the piece about the daddy laying passed out on the couch and hiding in the cellar and not coming out. We reworded it a little, but the idea was there. It was pretty brilliant.