Chris Janson says he knew his new song "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" was meant to be, but life kept getting in the way.

Tyler Hubbard had Janson in mind when he started writing the song with RaeLynn and a songwriting duo known as the 720 (Blake Hubbard and Jarrod Ingram). He sent it to Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, who found himself on the phone making its case with Janson's wife, Kelly, one day while the singer was hunting in Florida.

I actually wrote “Buy Me a Boat” for Blake Shelton. That’s who I wanted to cut that song. That’s who was in my brain when I wrote it. Thank God it worked out.

"It’s just one of those lightning rod type songs," Janson tells ToC. "When I wrote ‘Buy Me a Boat,’ I had a lot of other songs that I thought were better, and then ‘Buy Me a Boat’ came along and it just was like — it’s hard to beat that.”

  • "Buy Me a Boat" was Janson's breakthrough single in 2015.
  • "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" is the follow-up to "All I Need Is You," but it does not appear on Janson's latest album, The Outlaw Side of Me.
  • He's holding out hope that more songs from that album may be released to radio, but adds that he won't be mad if that never happens.

"I listened to their first renderings before the song was finished, and I was like, 'Holy S--T,'" Janson says, spelling out the curse word. "That’s unbelievable. It’s as if Tyler or whoever in the co-writing space would have put themselves into my body … it was that spot on."

Hubbard encouraged Janson to further make it his own, so he broke from hunting plans and climbed into the front seat of his Ford Bronco with pencil and paper in hand.

Those sketches, he says, are still in the console of the truck. The energy recalled the early days of his career, but the process was reminiscent of the pandemic, when songwriters relied on Zoom.

Then things got really difficult.

Studio time was booked for the second week of January 2024, but a snow and ice storm shut down Nashville. Janson's regular drummer couldn't get to town from L.A., so they once again did it pandemic style, sending him tracks to record his parts over from a home studio. Add a little DIY guitar work and the hitmaker had a song he feels will be as big as "Boat."

“I did the dual guitar solos in the song," Janson says proudly, adding that session guitarist Tom Bukovac encouraged him and suggested the Allman Brothers Band-esque layering.

Taste of Country: Who added the Dairy Queen lyric?

Chris Janson: That was Tyler! But dude, I go to DQ all the time and get a dip cone. I’m not even kidding you. That’s really part of my life and my lifestyle.

“Buy Me a Boat” dropped 10 years ago, next year. Would you have bet on you to still be here in 2024?

Yes, I would bet on myself. Because I bet on myself 100 percent of the time, all the time. I don’t mean that cocky. I mean that with total humility and grace. If you don’t bet on yourself, how can you bet on anybody else to bet on you?

That said, your wife was the one that pushed that song.

100 percent. I just didn’t know — if I’m being honest — at the time I didn’t care. I was writing a lot of songs and having great hit success with other people. Tim McGraw, LoCash — they were stacking up, and I got a bunch of cuts and a bunch of big singles. I actually wrote “Buy Me a Boat” for Blake Shelton. That’s who I wanted to cut that song. That’s who was in my brain when I wrote it. Thank God it worked out.

40 Country Albums Turning 40 in 2024

Some of country music's iconic albums were released 40 years ago, in 1984. Hank Williams Jr., Reba McEntire, the Judds and Barbara Mandrell lead the genre with iconic projects. How many of these albums did you spin?

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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