Lyrics Uncovered: Blake Shelton, ‘I’ll Name the Dogs’
Blake Shelton's "I'll Name the Dogs" lyrics and music put the singer right back into his main wheelhouse, and songwriter Ben Hayslip says that's exactly what he and his co-writers intended when they wrote the new single.
Hayslip wrote "I'll Name the Dogs" with two frequent collaborators, Josh Thompson and Matt Dragstrem. Thompson had thrown the idea for the title out at a few different sessions with other writers, but nobody had jumped on it yet.
"I said, 'What do you mean?'" Hayslip recalls to Taste of Country. "He was like, 'You name the babies, I'll name the dogs,' and I was like, 'I'm in!'"
Hayslip previously co-wrote "Honey Bee," and he instantly saw an opportunity to put Shelton back into that lighter, happy-go-lucky mood that has been such an essential part of building his career over the years.
"I said, 'That's a Blake Shelton smash,'" he adds. "One hundred percent ... in my mind, I've tried to go back there and write something like 'Honey Bee' again. It's such a big song for us, and when he said that idea, I said, 'I love it. That's Blake Shelton. Let's do it.'"
Dragstream had a track already partially formed, and Hayslip recalls it didn't take the trio very long to craft the melody and "I'll Name the Dogs" lyrics into a finished form. Hayslip recalls the chorus and lyrics taking shape very quickly into exactly the kind of light-hearted song he'd hoped for.
“You find the spot and I’ll find the money / You be the pretty and I’ll be the funny / You plant the flowers, I’ll plant the kisses / Baby let’s get right down to business / I’ll hang the pictures, you hang the stars / You pick the paint, I’ll pick a guitar / Sing you a song out there with the crickets and the frogs / You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs,” Shelton sings.
The main thing with an idea like that is ... you're writing the song with a smile.
Hayslip says Shelton didn't voice any concern about the settling-down themes in "I'll Name the Dogs," or what the song would imply to fans about his relationship with Gwen Stefani. Shelton even included two of Stefani's kids in the video for the song, which depicts an actual wedding.
"He is such a high-profile guy, you're always aware of Blake's situation, whatever it is," Hayslip acknowledges. "Our job is to not write something he won't say, or write something totally against the situation he's in. I don't know that we talked a lot about trying to make this song about him and his relationship, but we just wanted to make sure that we don't do anything to turn him away. He's a TV star; he's a big, huge name and a big star, and when you get to that point, sometimes there's things you can't say and certain things that you don't want to say."
They pitched their demo to Shelton through his longtime producer Scott Hendricks, and Shelton was interested from the start. Though they were intending the song for Shelton, another top country act was also in the running. Dragstrem writes for Big Loud, under the same umbrella as Florida Georgia Line, and when his publisher heard the track, he was interested in "I'll Name the Dogs" for FGL. But Shelton already had it on hold by then.
Hayslip says Hendricks put the finishing touches on "I'll Name the Dogs," producing a clean, radio-ready track that cuts right to the heart of Shelton's appeal.
"Sonically, no record sounds better than a Scott Hendricks record," he states. "A lot of the times you demo a song and you're proud of the demo, and you hear the cut, and a lot of times you like the demo more. I don't care how much you like your demo, you're not gonna like your demo more than you like the cut that Scott Hendricks puts out. He is just so good at what he does."
Shelton released the song on Sept. 8, and some fans almost instantly began to debate via social media whether the lyrics to "I'll Name the Dogs" were intended as a slap at Shelton's's ex-wife, Miranda Lambert, who is well-known for her love of dogs. Hayslip laughs off any suggestion that the "I'll Name the Dogs" lyrics are aimed at Lambert in any way.
"That was never thought of," he says. "We didn't go that deep into it. We just had an idea that we loved, and tried to surround that idea with great images. The main thing with an idea like that is ... you're writing the song with a smile. You know that. We didn't really think about the dog thing. I don't think that crossed anyone's mind. I know it didn't mine."
"I don't spend a lot of time reading that stuff," he adds of social media criticism. "I like to feel good, not feel bad, so whatever I can do ... it's like my friends. I want to surround myself with good people, and I want positive thoughts coming into my mind. That helps me be a better songwriter and a better person, so I try not to read too much."
"I'll Name the Dogs" is the lead single from a new album that Shelton has not yet announced.
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