Keith Urban Explains the ‘Trainwreck’ of When He Forgot ‘Highway Don’t Care’ Guitar Solo

by Atlanta Northcutt
(Photo by Chris Polk/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)

Even pros have off-days where their struggle is very real, so don’t feel bad if you’re not up to par one day. You’ll recover. Just ask Keith Urban.

While playing with massive superstar artists Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, Keith Urban had a monumental “oops!” moment as he forgot his guitar solo for his own song “Highway Don’t Care.” Man, that’s when you know you’ve had a rough day.

While speaking with McGraw during the musician and actor’s “Beyond the Influence” Apple Music Country show, Urban spoke about the devastating moment he knew he had truly messed up at the 2013 CMA Fest. His forgetfulness was a little too close for comfort at ruining the three performers’ entire performance.

“I will always appreciate the best guitar lead ride ever in ‘Highway Don’t Care,'” says McGraw during the radio show. “You blew my mind and on that record. And so that will forever, and you almost killed me with it live on the ACM awards.”

Keith Urban Gives Some Good Advice to Tim McGraw

Urban laughs with the knowledge that he almost killed himself and the entire show by forgetting his part of his own guitar solo in the song.

“Well, I almost killed myself with it when we played the CMA Fest and I was halfway through the solo and went, ‘Oh, I probably should have practiced this before I got out here because I totally forgot it,'” Urban exclaims. “And I can see the trainwreck look on my face and me trying to look like I ain’t nothing but a thing. But inside I was like, what the hell is going on here?”

However, from that situation, Urban used a little life advice that had been handed down to him by musicians and performers. When starting out playing at bars and smaller venues, he learned a pretty good lesson from those who had been playing in front of live audiences much longer than him.

“And then suddenly all those years of playing clubs comes in handy. And I remember the great phrase, there are no wrong notes, just the look on your face,” he adds.

That seems to be a performer’s own way of saying “fake it ’til you make it.”

The statement is full of truth once you actually think about it.

How many times have you been at a concert without any knowledge or realization that a musician missed a beat? Most of the time, they are the only ones who notice. The key is to keep going and perform as though nothing has happened. The audience is so transfixed on the music and concert experience that most won’t notice the mishap for one second. Just keep going.

“There Is No Wrong Notes, Just The Look On Your Face”

“There is no wrong notes, just the look on your face,” Tim McGraw repeats back to Keith Urban. Tim seems to ponder over the statement.

Although he was playing with the artist, even Tim McGraw didn’t hear or notice any mistakes coming from Urban’s guitar.

Later on, Keith Urban tells McGraw about when he first realized that he wanted to play the guitar. He explains how his father was a drummer, yet Keith never saw him play. However, he gives his dad credit for passing down the natural rhythmic talents to his son.

“I think when I was about 4, they bought me this ukulele. And my dad said that I could strum it in time with the songs on the radio,” explains Keith. “I didn’t know any chords, but he said I had that rhythm. So they asked somebody what’s a good age for our son who seems to have rhythm to get taught some chords? They said around 6 is a great age.”

“Lo and behold, around about that age of 6, my mom and dad ran a little corner store, and a lady named Sue McCarthy came by one day and asked if she could put an ad in the window offering guitar lessons,” the country great continues. “And they said, ‘If you teach our son for free, we’ll put your ad in the window.’ And so, I got taught how to negotiate and had to learn some chords all in the same breath.”

Using The Sound Advice of “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”

The lesson here is if you want to play music, do so relentlessly and fearlessly. Don’t give up on your dreams.

The second lesson is when you mess up playing said music, follow Keith Urban’s advice. Remember “there are no wrong notes, just the look on your face.”

Keith’s saying also works in your day-to-day life.