Flashback: “Austin” Paved the Way for Blake Shelton’s Fame 1

Blake Shelton | Photo: Screen grabbed from Youtube

Second chances – that’s what the song “Austin” is all about. A lot of wonderful things have happened after this song came out. That’s despite the fact that the song was written out of an unfortunate event.  Before tackling a bit of that, let’s first take a look at how the song flared up the chart immediately after its release.

Originally “If This is Austin,” “Austin” was the debut single of then-newcomer to country music Blake Shelton. Inspired by an answering machine, the song reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and stayed there for a total of five weeks. Shelton’s release was the first debut single to occupy that position for such a period of time since Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” in 1992. This success was attributed to the immediate favorable response from the audience. A break-up song that involves playing a distressing game of phone tag especially resonated with women.

Shelton, himself, identified with the song right away and sharing his past breakup moment. While he and his girlfriend got back together shortly, they never managed to work their relationship out. However, the singer remains positive about love and shares good thoughts about it through the song,

“‘Austin’ relates to all of those situations, whether it works out or not. It’s really about second chances.”

The Song Composition and Its Success

“Austin” recounts the sad story of a Nashville songwriter who broke up with his girlfriend. The woman then moved to Texas capital, Austin. Being not able to move on with the breakup, the man put an outgoing message on his answering machine, “By the way – if this is Austin, I still love you.” This story inspired Kirsti Manna who told her fellow songwriter David Kent. Just like Shelton, Manna and Kent were newcomers none of them had scored their major hit yet at that time. “Austin” gave them their big breaks.

One challenge encountered by the songwriters was on how to end the song appropriately. What worked eventually was a twisted ending.

“The man calls back and thinks for a minute before he’s got her answering machine – but he’s really got her. So, that put a bit of a smile at the end of it,”

Kent explains.

However, as the single was gaining considerable momentum, Giant Records, Shelton’s record label at that time closed. Despite such, the single remained unstoppable. Fortunately, Warner Bros. Records came to Shelton’s rescue. With the new label record, “Austin” rolled on. August 11, 2011, marked the beginning of its five-week reign on top of the country chart. In 2014, the self-titled album on which the single was recorded became platinum certified. It sold over one million copies.

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