After teasing a small clip yesterday, Keith Urban has released the full version of his new song “Coming Home,” featuring pop singer Julia Michaels. If you’ve ever wondered what a pop-country song sampling a timeless Merle Haggard classic would sound like, here it is. The song puts a twist on the famous opening guitar riff from Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.”
“There’s a place that I know where they all know me, gotta get back now to the ones who love me,” Urban sings over a pulsing electronic beat and a rolling banjo.
In a press release, Urban said the song was inspired by his lifelong love of Haggard’s music.
“Hearing that rolling Haggard guitar lick sparked memories of my childhood, and my dream to come to America,” Urban said in the statement.
Haggard receives a co-writing credit for the song, along with J.R. Rotem, Nicolle Galyon, Urban and Michaels. Urban also stated that he got the blessing from Haggard’s family to sample the classic country song. He called Haggard’s wife Theresa and son, Ben, to play them the song before he recorded it.
While “Mama Tried” told a story that only Haggard could tell, from his rowdy youth to his father’s death, Urban’s “Coming Home” uses the modern country radio trope of the universal idea of “home,” without any specifics as to where that is or how it shaped him.
Still, the song is layered with infectious melodies. The song’s brightest moment features Michaels lending her airy vocals to the song’s bridge: “Yeah I know it’s only one call away, but it’s not the same.”
Even with the obvious Haggard influence, “Coming Home” likely won’t win over many staunch traditional country fans. But that’s probably not what Urban is trying to do here.
The song is solid pop country fare and fans of both modern mainstream country radio and classic country can appreciate the nod to one of the best and most memorable country songs ever written.
“Coming Home” will appear on Urban’s upcoming album Graffiti U. Urban has not yet announced a release date for the album.