Keith Urban Tells How New Song ‘Wild Hearts’ Was Inspired by Johnny Cash Concert He Went to With His Dad

by Leanne Stahulak

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Johnny Cash inspired one of the best country artists of our time. Here’s what Keith Urban had to say about his childhood inspiration.

The country superstar spoke with Taste of Country Nights recently about “Wild Hearts,” his new hit single. Apparently, Urban initially passed up the song when the writers offered it to him. He said the lyrics didn’t resonate with him, yet the chorus stayed stuck in his head for a week. So, Urban asked if he could rewrite a few verses here and there. That’s where the memory of his first-ever concert — Johnny Cash– comes in.

“That was a profound first concert for anybody, let alone a 5-year-old,” Keith Urban said. “That’s the loudest, drunkest group of people I had ever been around and it was exciting. You’re five years old and just packed in this arena and I was just so mesmerized by how loud everybody was.”

That memory ties directly in with the first verse of his song. Urban sings about the spotlight and the screams, and specifically “my dad’s stare” on Cash.

“I remember at one point, my dad’s expression. Like staring at this guy on stage in a way I’d never seen him stare at somebody. Like transfixed,” Urban continued. “I’m sure a child psychologist would probably say I wish he stared at me like that. ‘I’ve never gotten that stare. What’s that guy doing out there to get my dad’s attention like that?'”

As Keith Urban grew up, he witnessed his dad’s battle with alcoholism. Eventually, Robert died in December 2015 from cancer.

How Keith Urban’s ‘Doubters’ Tie into ‘Wild Hearts’

For Keith Urban, the chorus of “Wild Hearts” sealed the deal for him to take on the song. Specifically, the line “All of you lost ones who aren’t really lost ones / Keep shining your light” really touched him.

Too often, those “lost ones” have had people look down on them or doubt them. That’s what Urban dives into in the second verse of the song. He said those haters and doubters really pushed him to keep going in his career.

“Plenty of people. Plenty of people,” Keith Urban said. “Those shine-blockers in our life, those people that come along and just crap on our parade. My experience has been, I’m really grateful for those people because they’ve given me infinite fire … because I wanna prove ‘em wrong.”

Urban mentioned how he “burns a lot” from that kind of motivation. But that need to prove his worth still seems to stem from his relationship with his dad, and that first Johnny Cash concert all those years ago.

“I still burn on the fuel of trying to get my dad’s attention, which I’m sure I got years and years before he passed away. But I still probably am driven by that,” Urban concluded.