It’s been almost a year—47 weeks to be exact—since Craig Campbell released his current single, “Outskirts of Heaven.” The Georgia native has been watching his song slowly rise up the Billboard chart—currently sitting at number 26 —admittedly, with a bit of frustration.
As Craig tells it, the fate of his upcoming album rests on the success of “Outskirts.” “We want to have a legit hit song, across the board, before we put an album out,” he says.
With the album close to completion, the traditional singer hopes to have new music in the hands of his fans in the next few months. Craig recently sat down with Nash Country Daily to talk about the slow but steady success of “Outskirts,” his upcoming album and touring with his pal, Luke Bryan.
Tell me about the song “Outskirts of Heaven.”
“Oh man, it’s such a special song to me. When I wrote it, I never intended on it being on the radio, it was just one of those co-writes where I went in and I sat down, and I told my co-writer Davis, “I’m not trying to write a radio song. This is something that’s on my heart, we need to get it off, and get it into music, put words to it.” And I told him about it, and we wrote Outskirts of Heaven. It’s just a … it’s a prayer request. I feel like, when I do get to heaven, I feel like it’s gonna be what I want it to be, and so I just wanted to write all that down. I wanted to basically put it out there, so there are no surprises when I do get there.
You released this single last year. Is it frustrating, the length of time that it’s taking to move up the charts?
“I can’t even lie about it. Yeah, it’s super frustrating. Especially when you have the opportunity to be on the radio, and you have stations that believe in you and the song, and they play it, and say, ‘This song is reacting so good, it’s testing number one in our market.’ Then another radio station says, ‘Oh, you know, we’re not gonna play it because we don’t know if it’s a hit song.’ It’s all that stuff. It’s almost like being on trial, and saying, ‘We have three eyewitnesses, we have video, we have a confession, but the judge is still telling me that he didn’t do it.'”
What can we expect from this new album?
“Honestly, with the success ‘Outskirts’ has had, it’s making me think about the music that I do on a different level. There’s a lot of music on the radio that’s hugely successful that as an artist, you say, ‘Well if that works, then I’m gonna try that, so that I can be successful as well.’ But for me to be true to myself, I have to stick with what I love and what I believe in, and the music that’s real. So it’s gonna be more traditional —as have both of my previous records. But I feel like the subject matters are going to be more, for lack of a better word, throw back to the early ’90s when it was all about the song and the lyrics. And that’s what I’m really focusing on.”
You’re heading out on the Huntin,’ Fishin,’ Lovin’ Everyday Tour with Luke Bryan. How did that come about?
“My team worked really hard to make all that work out. I’ve been friends with Luke for a long time. I played piano for Luke years and years ago, and about a year and a half ago, I did Crash My Playa with him. I’ve texted him many times saying, ‘Hey, you know, hook a brother up. You know, take me on tour.’ So we’re finally getting the opportunity this fall, and honestly, when I got the text message from my manager, I was laying in bed watching TV and he’s like—All it said was, ‘Luke Bryan tour.’ And I literally got up and jumped up and down and whooped and hollered like a crazy person. But it’s a dream come true. I’m excited about it.”
Are you prepared to shake it on stage?
I am not prepared. I’m gonna leave all the dancing to Luke. He definitely is really good at what he does, and there’s only one Luke Bryan in the world.
What’s your favorite thing about being in the music business?
“My favorite thing about being in it is the fans and getting to do what I love. I will say—til I’m blue in the face—that I realize how lucky I am to be able to have songs on the radio, and be able to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I get to sing for a living.’ It’s just an unimaginable concept to be able to know that I can make a living and provide for my family by singing. And then I think, ‘How is this possible?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, there’s people out there that are waiting to hear me sing.’ So it’s being able to sing, and knowing that there’s fans out there that want to hear it.”
Studio photo by Jason Simanek