Keith Urban Recalls ‘Excruciatingly Tough’ Time Early In His Career

Keith Urban will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame this fall, an accomplishment that at one time seemed impossible to achieve. Urban came to the United States in 1989 from Australia, where he was raised, to become a singer-songwriter, although by his own admission, his early years were anything but promising.

“I still drive down 16th and into Music Row and it’s like time evaporates. And I’m right back, driving down the exact same avenue to go to a songwriting session,” Urban tells the Associated Press. “I was writing five days a week at MCA Publishing over there, and on one hand, it was an excruciatingly tough time for me because it wasn’t really how I wrote songs: sitting in a room with a complete stranger, a couple of legal pads, and acoustic guitars in a windowless room. That’s kind of how it was done back then.”

Although that is, fortunately, not how Urban writes songs anymore, the 55-year-old is profoundly grateful for the lessons he learned in that season, hard as they were for him at the time.

“It was such a training ground for me, I guess, because I was kind of forced into an environment that wasn’t natural to me,” Urban says. “But I learned so much from it about songwriting. As tough as it was, it’s probably where I learned the most about songwriting.”

Urban has written about plenty of topics throughout his career, but one he chooses not to touch on is fatherhood, even though he is the proud parent to two daughters he shares with his wife, Nicole Kidman.

“I’ve never written about that; it doesn’t speak to me from a writing standpoint quite that way,” Urban says. “I think, it’s in my spirit. I love songs about hope, wild longing, working through things, and just sheer, mindless fun. At this stage there is one song that will probably finish the album, it’s called ‘Break the Chain,’ and that’s probably the most personal song, out of everything.”

Urban plans to release a new single in the near future, followed by his next album — a record he created and scrapped twice before finally creating something he was ready to share with the rest of the world.

“It was the worst feeling of like, ‘Okay, it’s back to the drawing board. I got to get in there and start writing some songs,’” Urban says of the moment he realized he wasn’t happy with his album. “And so really from February all the way through to now, the whole record just took a whole different direction when I had time to write. It was the missing heart of the body of songs that I’d recorded. And everything started to pop, and all three of the next single contenders we’ve got right now, I’m a writer on all three of them.”

Urban will resume his Keith Urban: The Las Vegas Residency at Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in November. Find music and tour dates at