Music

Story Behind the Song: Devin Dawson, ‘Range Rover’

Devin Dawson‘s Pink Slip EP finds the singer-songwriter broadening his sound and style through six songs, including the cheeky, beat-heavy “Range Rover,” a song about a relationship that failed because she was in it for the status, not the love.

Throughout the song’s three-ish minutes, Dawson name-checks Keith Whitley and Lee Greenwood over a plinky, trap-esque beat as he explains, “I was looking for a girl that’s fine / If I drive a pickup … and she was lookin’ for that Range Rover.”

To The Boot, Dawson explains that “Range Rover” came out of a joking conversation between himself and co-writers Ben Rector, himself a pop-rock singer-songwriter and ace guitarist Mark Trussell, and was written with a country twist (though there’s an alternate version out there, too). Read on for the full story behind the song, in the singer’s own words.

So I wrote that with … Ben Rector and one of my good friends named Mark Trussell, who’s just an insane guitar player … I kind of chased Ben down, just ’cause I’m such a huge fan, and I was like, “Let’s write” …

This was maybe the fourth time we’d written? At this point, we knew we were all on the same page, and we knew we were all okay with doing something different and weird and taking a chance and being daring.

We started the day out with just catching up. Mark had a single that was rising, and we were talking about, “You’re gonna have to get your wife a new car,” or something, and Mark was like, “Yeah, I think she wants a Range Rover.” And Ben and I were both like, “I don’t know if she’s the type of girl that fits that bill,” you know — the stereotypical trophy wife that just wants the house and the Range Rover.

And so we kind of were like: Is there a song in there? Could be cool. Are we all okay with going there? We threw out a couple other ideas, and by the end of throwing some other stuff out, we were like, no, we’re writing “Range Rover” today.

With Ben and Mark and myself, we all love chords so much, and this song has so many different “out-of-town chords”: the kind of chords you don’t hear a lot in country songs. It was fun for us melodically, it was fun for us lyrically, it was fun for us chordally; it was fun and it still had energy in it.

We just talked about this guy — tried to put it somewhat into a country audience — [who’s] with this girl, and she’s cool and my friends like her and she cleans up nice and she’s beautiful and all of that, but her motives are in the wrong place. She was looking for the Range Rover, and I’m just looking for a girl who’s down to ride in my beat-up truck with the windows down and just having a good time listening to country music …

We wrote it, and Ben ended up singing it that day, and we actually changed some of the lyrics, because I wanted it to be more country … so I say ”pickup,” and then I say “bench-seater,” and I say “Keith Whitley,” and in his version, he says “Civic,” and he says “two-seater” instead of “bench-seater,” and his was “Steve Winwood,” literally because he was just wearing a Steve Winwood shirt that day …

The demo was very close to what we did on the master … I used my live band in the studio … and we kind of got maybe an hour into jamming it, and Mark wasn’t playing it, and it just sounded too jazzy — it sounded too soft … It wasn’t ripping; it didn’t have that heaviness. So I called Mark … and what that did was, it caused everyone else to try to fit in around Mark … It just brought it to exactly where it needed to be.

It’s cheeky, and cheeky isn’t usually something’ I’m so good at — I’m not good at being funny — but it had the right kind of chip on its shoulder for me.

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