Chris Janson says another “Drunk Girl” co-writer brought the bulk of the song to the writing session, but his own experiences as a father inspired his performance.
Tom Douglas — who along with Scooter Carusoe helped Janson write the second single from Everybody — had the idea and song title, and once the write began the “Drunk Girl” lyrics came easy. All three men have daughters, so in a lot of ways their message was a wish for how men would treat their little girls if they were in a “Drunk Girl” situation.
“And we would hope that our boys would treat a girl like that too, so it’s a two-way street,” Janson says.
“Take a drunk girl home / Let her sleep all alone / Leave her keys on the counter, your number by the phone / Pick up her life she threw on the floor / Leave the hall lights on walk out and lock the door / That’s how she knows the difference between a boy and man / Take a drunk girl home,” he sings at the chorus.
“Drunk Girl” was inked in 2017, long before the #MeToo movement became big news, and well before songs with similar themes hit the radio. It was always Janson’s plan to drop the song as a single in the fall or winter — at least it was after he was convinced to keep it. Originally he held the song back during record label meetings, thinking he’d try to pitch it to Tim McGraw. But his wife Kelly brought it up and his record label team urged him to keep it because it was such a good fit for who he is as a singer, songwriter, father and man.
“The parts that were oddly connecting with me on a personal note were ‘through the paper-thin walls you can hear your neighbors cigarette cough,’ like those kind of things,” he tells Taste of Country of the “Drunk Girl” lyrics. “I don’t know very many people that haven’t lived in a single apartment before coming up through the ranks of life. I have. Several.”
The second verse of “Drunk Girl” goes: “You leave her drive for a dive and you get something bad to eat / They’re singing ‘Closing Time’ at that bar across the street / In two by twos, strangers and lovers headed for the covers, hooking up / That TV in your two-bedroom, sound’s turned off / And through the paper-thin walls, you can hear the neighbor’s cigarette cough / There’s a million things you could be doing but there’s one thing you’re sure damn glad you did.”
Janson talked to Taste of Country just days after the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, where dozens of Hollywood elites wore black on the red carpet to raise awareness for a group that fought sexual harassment, abuse and gender inequality. He didn’t intend for his song to be a part of this larger conversation, but he’s not mad about it.
“You have to be comfortable with that as a songwriter because you never know where you’re song is gonna lead is gonna go and what life it’s gonna take on. You can control it to an extent and then sometimes you have a song like ‘Drunk Girl,’ you cannot control it. It’s gonna be what it is,” he assures.
Another thing Janson couldn’t control during the write was his emotions. The “Drunk Girl” lyrics hit home for him as a father of four. “It was hard to not cry, to be honest with you. It was a pretty emotional write,” he says.
This article originally appeared on Taste of Country.