Luke Bryan‘s nostalgic coming-of-age ballad was once one of his biggest career disappointments. There are moments we all have in life that we think will be seminal. Defining points that take our lives in a direction we could only have hoped for before. And for Luke Bryan, he thought that moment was the release of “We Rode in Trucks.” In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bryan shared the heartache of the song’s failure and how he persevered to get to the top.
A Breakout Hit that Didn’t
When Bryan left his native Georgia and came to Nashville, he brought with him a large and dedicated fan base from his home state. A fan base which he assumed would represent the world of country music. He naturally assumed that the music that had made him popular back home would translate into success with a wider audience. But it didn’t take long to discover that commercial success is a different ballpark altogether.
The song that Bryan assumed would be his breakout hit was “We Rode in Trucks.” It’s a nostalgic ballad full of country imagery. It reminisces about the wide-eyed pleasure of youth and what it means to come of age in a place of red dirt roads, rivers, and cottonwood trees. “Where I grew up,” he sings, “We rode in trucks.” And likely because the song was so real to life for rural Georgians, it had immense popularity there.
But unfortunately, the song didn’t do well in its commercial release. In fact, it didn’t even chart in the top 30. Bryan revealed to Rolling Stone how difficult that was for him.
A Tough Blow
“I had thought that based on how successful “We Rode in Trucks” was to my fans I had gotten playing down in Georgia, [that it] was going to take me over the top. It didn’t. And it was a really, really volatile point in my career,” Bryan said. “I still wish “We Rode in Trucks” would have been a hit. . . It’s funny, because at the time, Taylor Swift was really blowing up then. And she had put “Teardrops on My Guitar” out and that took her over the edge. I thought “We Rode in Trucks” was going to be my “Teardrops on My Guitar.” It was a tough blow. The day I got the call that “We Rode in Trucks” had died, it was a scary time.”
What’s interesting about the story is that the song has come back to be one of his most beloved. In a 2015 Rolling Stone Reader’s Poll, “We Rode in Trucks” was actually listed as No. 7 of 10 for voters. So despite its initial lack of commercial success, it definitely has a place in fans’ hearts. You can watch the “We Rode in Trucks” video below.