On May 7, Lady Antebellum will release its fourth studio album, Golden — and the title track, a honey-soaked love letter, was the last song Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood wrote for the record.
They invited Eric Pasley, a fellow Nashville artist and songwriter (Eli Young Band’s “Even if it Breaks Your Heart,” Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes”) to write with them at Kelley’s home. After a couple false starts on other ideas, Kelley suggested they begin again from scratch: “I said, ‘Just start playing, and I’m gonna start mumbling some words over these melodies, and the song just started pouring out,” he says. “We probably wrote it in a couple of hours over a bottle of wine and delivery pizza. I think the good ones usually come fast like that. ‘Need You Now’ we wrote really quick. Once you find the inspiration” — in this case, their spouses and Scott’s new baby — “everybody’s just throwing out ideas.”
Watch an exclusive acoustic performance of the song below:
“Golden” was chosen as the title track, Kelley says, because the word captures the feel of the entire album. “The record, in general, has a nice kind of breezy road-trip warm feeling. That’s what ‘golden’ says to me — it’s really warm.” Plus, he continues, “I think we’re really proud of that song. It felt like we were getting back to the basics of how the three of us started out — just sittin’ in a room and writin’ and not thinkin’ about trying to write a hit.”
Of course, it sounds like a hit — at least to Stevie Nicks, with whom they performed the song when they taped their upcoming episode of CMT Crossroads (it’s scheduled to air this summer). On a conference call to discuss which songs to do from each other’s catalogues, “She said, ‘You know, when we started Fleetwood Mac, I really wanted us to be almost like a male-female version of Crosby, Stills & Nash,'” Kelley recalls. “I said, ‘We actually just did a song called ‘Golden’ where on the bridge, we do these ‘Oohs’ that are a throwback tribute to Crosby, Stills & Nash.’ They used to do that so well where they would have these cool, airy ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ in the backgrounds of songs. I sent the song to her, and I said, ‘I don’t necessarily want to do it in the show, I just want you to hear it.’ ”
“And so when we saw her the next week, she’s like, ‘Y’all don’t know what this song has meant to me…. I think this is gonna be your ‘Landslide.” We just all looked at each other and almost started tearing up. It was an overwhelming moment to get that kind of stamp of approval from someone you really respect.”