Country music isn’t a hobby. It’s a lifestyle. It’s something that’s bred into your heart and soul; something that takes a hold of you and never lets go.
That’s how it was for country rising star Spencer Crandall, whose childhood was molded by the voices of Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks blaring out of the speakers at home and and on the road. That’s how it continues to be for Crandall, who now finds himself in the same business as his idols and current inspirations, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, and Chris Lane.
“My dad was a huge country music fan growing up so it’s always just been what our family listened to,” Crandall said. “It’s how I process things, and honestly don’t know what life would be like without it.”
In three years, Crandall has gone from aspiring country star to a country star on the rise. He was a football star in college in Colorado before he was sidelined indefinitely by injuries. He turned to music as a release, and in the process he found his passion: songwriting.
“The writing process for me is very random,” Crandall said. “Sometimes the song comes from a real life experience, other times I feel inspired by a movie or a song. Sometimes a song takes 30 minutes, other times it takes 12 hours. Songs come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes the story or the feeling can be easy or difficult to tackle. The thing that remains true in my process is trying to find something that is universally true, that everyone can relate to, but said in a new and fresh way.”
Since then, Crandall has crafted a large fanbase through his Instagram covers, while also touring with country stars like Dustin Lynch, Chris Lane, and Tyler Rich.
At the heart of music is the emotion — the pure, raw feeling that comes with listening to a song and finding a piece of yourself in someone else’s words. Crandall’s latest single, “I Thought We Broke Up,” weaves together a story that’s founded in that emotion. It’s got a message everyone can relate to — feeling drawn back to someone that’s not necessarily good for you.
“I wrote this song with Scott Porter and Sammy Ariaga,” Crandall said. “Sammy was telling us about an ex-girlfriend of his and we could all relate with his story. We all decided that we continuously went back to people who weren’t good for us and that we lacked self-control (especially when tequila was involved.) So this song comes from a place of confusion about where you really stand in a relationship and those lines can get kind of muddy sometimes.
“I loved the story, the lyrics, the vibe, the production (shout out to Ethan Brewington and Josh Barker) and how it felt like a big step forward,” he continued. “I also love how it pushes the boundaries of country and blurs the lines of several genres. It just felt right as the next song to release.”
Music in general is founded in human experience. There’s a universal concept that everyone can find something in a song — a message that speaks to them, an experience that resonates with them, an emotion that transports them back in time. It’s why music is so powerful. That’s exactly what Crandall wants listeners to take away from “I Thought We Broke Up.”
“I just want listeners to feel what we were all feeling and hopefully this song makes them dance, cry, cope, heal, sing at the top of their lungs, or whatever it needs to do for them,” Crandall said. “This song has so many elements of emotion (guilt, desire, lust, confusion) I think it can be interpreted in several different ways. I think that’s the beauty of a good song, other people can adopt it and insert their life and experiences into it.”
But there’s one line in particular from that really speaks to Crandall — that captures the “inner battle” within.
“‘This cab ride to your place is already bad news, cause your lips still taste as good as they used to,’ Crandall said. “That line sums up the inner battle this character is feeling (and that I have felt a million times.) You want to be with that person because you are attracted to them, but at the same time you know it’s going to leave you in a bad spot. I love that line because it is the essence of the song; knowing something is bad, but still doing it.”
So what advice does this country star on the rise have for aspiring artists? It’s simple really: just be yourself.
“Just write what you know,” Crandall said. “Be specific to you. Don’t try and write what you hear on the radio. Find what makes you unique and run with it! The best story you can tell is your own, because you know it better than anyone else. People will connect with your authenticity a lot faster than they will with your replication of someone else’s truth.”
And Crandall should know. He’s walking proof.