Brett Young doesn’t exactly qualify as “young,” certainly in this modern era of country music where youth is not only served but catered to. But the 35-year-old singer/songwriter from California is definitely new to country music, as he released his debut single “Sleep Without You” for the Republic Nashville label only less than a year ago.
As debuts go, this one proved a veritable smash. “Sleep Without You” hit the No. 1 spot in late November, a perfect set-up for his inaugural self-titled album, due in February. Tuesday night (Jan. 10), Young and his “Sleep Without You” co-writers, Justin Ebach and Kelly Archer, celebrated the song’s success at an exclusive industry party at the fabulous new Westin Hotel in downtown Nashville. It marked the first chart-topper for all three.
Before the party got underway, Young, Archer, and Ebach spoke to members of the press about the song and how it came to light. The idea took shape, Ebach recalled, when Young declared something to the effect that he had grown weary of tunes that centered around scoring with women.
“We talked about some language we wanted to use and pulled out the title,” Ebach said. Archer added a compliment to Young, noting that, “Brett is an artist with a clear point of view and that was like a dream come true for me. Brett’s point of view was magic. We couldn’t write it fast enough.” The key phrase in the song. No matter how late I’ll be stayin’ up/I can’t sleep without you, captured the essence of the song’s central message.
During the party at the Westin’s rooftop bar, offering grand views of the city from all points, Young Ebach, and Archer performed “Sleep Without You” for the assembled crowd. Young, who spent several years writing songs in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville, later spoke of his long journey prior to signing with Republic.
“I was getting ready to head to Key West,” Young told the assembled crowd. “I met with [Republic Nashville President] Jimmy Harnen and he asked me to play a few songs in the [label’s] conference room.” Another showcase for the label’s promotional staff proved the ultimate life-changer.
“I don’t let myself have expectation because I don’t want to be let down,” Young said. But Harnen and the label came back with a record deal offer, Young’s ultimate reward for his years of perseverance. “It’s been a 14-year overnight success,” Young laughed.
Meanwhile, Young isn’t quite the oldest artist to nab a first-time No. 1 single, though he’s close. Willie Nelson was 42 when he copped his first chart-topper as an artist with “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” The legendary Hank Snow was slightly older than Young at 36 before enjoying his first No. 1 in 1950, “I’m Moving On.”
Pretty good leads for Young to follow.