Keith Urban Performs ‘Burden’ at 2019 ACM Awards: Story Behind Epic Cover

by Will Shepard

Last year, in 2019, Keith Urban took to the stage to deliver an amazing performance of “Burden.” Although Urban’s version is a cover of Foy Vance’s song, it is still an emotional and passionate performance.

Urban, at the time, won the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year award. On top of that award, he also won CMA’s Entertainer of the Year award. Both awards are among the most sought after awards in country music.

After the event, Urban talks about what the song means to him. He talks about how the song speaks to him and the struggles he’s been dealing with in his life.

“The brevity of the song spoke to me as someone that has needed to hear that in my life and needed to hear that offered to me. I love songs that speak to the human condition of struggle and the idea that it’s okay, I can help you…let me carry your burden.”

The Story Behind Urban Performing “Burden”

The story behind Urban performing the song is interesting, to say the least. It actually begins with the country superstar meeting Ed Sheeran in London.

So, after a concert that he had, the musician met Sheeran. And the next day, Urban took a long bike ride through the old city. And consequently, Urban decided that he felt compelled to perform the song at the award ceremony.

“We played at the 02 in London, and Ed [Sheeran] came out to see us play. We talked about Foy, who’s an incredible musician and songwriter. The next day, I had a day off in London, so I got on my bike and put my headphones on, and rode around London for, like, two hours listening to Foy non-stop.”

Urban explains that this was not the sole reason he chose to perform the song at the ACM award show. Rather, he kept thinking about Vance and “Burden” once he got back to Nashville.

“And when I got back to Nashville, I realized that I had never seen him play live – he must be fantastic. So, I jumped on YouTube and heard this song, ‘Burden,’ and just fell in love with him. I thought, ‘I’d love to be able to do a version of the song, the way that I was feeling it in my heart.'”

Before Urban committed to singing the song, he decided that he should talk to Vance’s co-producer. Dave Cobb chose his words carefully to describe the song but put it eloquently.

“[‘Burden’] is a beautifully written, minimalist prayer. Like the paint that’s drying on a heart that’s broken. Let me carry your burden.”

Dealing With Sorrow

Urban has dealt with hardships over his long career, so “Burden” seems like a perfect choice to perform at the ACM’s. Vance’s song helps the singer cope with the troubles he has dealt with.

In 2014, Urban helped shoulder the burden of his wife, Nicole Kidman’s, father passing away. So, in 2019, when Urban took the stage, his voice seems to be almost more compelling telling the story. However, Urban’s version somehow remains less brooding than Vance’s original song.

Moreover, the version at the ACM’s seems to offer support and gratitude for anyone serving others. During a hardship, it’s often helpful to know that others deal with similar issues.

[H/T: Taste of Country]