Colton Dixon doesn't have compromising photos, tape recordings or anything else with which he could blackmail the producers of "American Idol" or the American Idols Live! 2012 Tour. But he has managed the rare feat of being able to perform an original song, "Never Gone," as part of the show.
"I have no idea how this opportunity presented itself, but I'm not complaining and I'm gonna run with it," Dixon told Billboard.com before the Idols Live! opening night show at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. "It's perfect for arena rock, which is why we threw it out there. Hopefully I'll have the audience singing along with me by the last chorus every night."
Dixon, who finished seventh on "Idol" this season, said he wrote "Never Gone" in mid-June while working with Contemporary Christian mainstay and Red Decibel production company founder Adam Watts -- one of several artists 19 Entertainment, which is still holding its option for Dixon, lined up for the 20-year-old Tennessean. "We weren't having a good day that day," Dixon recalled. "We were quite frustrated...and without telling each other we both just kind of prayed about that writing session and that God would use whatever we had left to put towards a song. We came back and one of the other guys in the group had the idea for this melody and we ran with it and it became 'Never Gone.' As soon as I walked out of the studio I knew I had something, and I played it for 19 and they loved it and everything made sense to do it on the tour."
Lyrically, Dixon said "Never Gone" works both inside and outside his faith. "It's like one of those things when you're a kid and you're in the dark and you want to turn the lights on just to make sure everything is where it needs to be," Dixon explains. "It's kind of the same thing, personally, with me and God; I want to make sure he's always there, and he always responds with, 'I never left.' So it's just that cool picture. And if you're not a believer, it can be whatever you want it to be. Just the idea of having someone there that's never left and is never going to leave, it paints a really cool picture and it brings comfort and hope."
Dixon said any plans to release "Never Gone" are pending until 19 makes its decision. Meanwhile, he's forging ahead with new music; he's written a pair of songs with Lifehouse's Jason Wade as well as material with former Evanescence keyboardist David Hodges and Shinedown collaborator Dave Bassett. Dixon said he and "Idol" champ Phillip Phillips have also talked about doing some writing during the Idols Live! tour, which lasts until Sept. 21.
"I'm going to be rooted in Christian music, but I don't want to alienate anybody," Dixon acknowledged. "I want to include everybody I can. Someone like Chris (Daughtry) was a great forerunner for me to look at. He didn't necessarily go into the Christian world, but his first single, 'Home,' was played on every radio station possible -- Christian radio, pop radio, rock radio. It was such a diverse song and it appealed to the masses, and I loved that. That's what I'd like to do with my music, too."