Keith Urban brings the emotion in “Better Than I Am,” the penultimate song on his 2020 album The Speed of Now Part 1. The country star has been sitting on the track for a while, he revealed to The Boot, waiting for the right project on which to release it.
Urban co-wrote “Better Than I Am” with Eg White, a British musician, songwriter and producer who co-wrote, among others, Adele’s “Chasing Pavements.” Below, the country superstar shares the story behind the song in his own words.
In the case of “Better Than I Am,” we wrote that song a few years ago, and I was just waiting for the right album to put it on …
Firstly, I wanted to work with Eg White … He wrote “Chasing Pavements” with Adele, and it’s still one of my favorite Adele songs of all time; it’s just so unusual and beautiful and exquisite and original. And so, his name always stayed with me, and I ended up in London a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to write with him, and so we met in his tiny little studio, and we just started talking about soul records that we love: Bill Withers and a whole bunch of things.
And he was like, “Well, so tell me a bit about, you know, your life. What’s going on?” and I don’t know why I started getting so confessional with him, but he just brings it out in you.
And I said, “You know, sometimes I’m not sure if I’m running to something or running from something. It’s a bit of a blur. I feel like I’m sort of swimming to keep from drowning.”
And he went, ‘Well, there’s the opening lines.”
We wrote that down, and then we just started going from there, just speaking about my journey and my past, which was behind me but still not as far as I wished it was, and trying to — just trying to be better than I am.
When I was in rehab, one of my counselors was saying to me, “Look, we’re trying to walk in the light as best we can.” And he goes, “I don’t know that we can do that, but just try and lean. If you’re walking on an angle, just try and walk on an angle leaning into the light.” It always stayed with me, so there’s a line in there: “I will stand in the light, at least as best I can.” And it was just being honest that I’m a work in progress.