It’s been almost five years since Jerrod Niemann hit the top of the charts with “Lover, Lover.” Though the singer has written the bulk of his material, his first hit was actually a song that he and his sister Amy had been fans of for a few years.
“We grew up in a small town in Kansas where most of the radio stations around were syndicated out of Denver, so we pretty much just heard what they were playing. ‘Lover, Lover’ was actually a song that we heard on the radio a lot back in 1992 by a group called Sonia Dada,” he recalled. “We just all figured it was a major hit.” And, it actually was a huge hit — in Australia, where it hit the top of the charts, as well as in New Zealand. But the song continued to be a favorite of Amy’s.
Niemann recalls when he heard the song again. By this point, he was working on his debut disc for Sea Gayle/Arista. “A few years later, my sister was moving, so I went and helped her. She had her playlist on her iPod playing, and ‘Lover, Lover’ came on. I remember telling her, ‘I can’t believe you’re playing that song. I’m never going to get it out of my head.’ I had just finished my album, but literally a few days later, I was talking to one of my buddies and I said, ‘Man, we ought to do a version of this.’ So, yeah, my sister helped to get that song stuck in my head, and I ended up recording it — so I’m very glad she did.”
Until that point, Niemann had been honing his skills in the clubs, as well as having success as a songwriter (he co-wrote Garth Brooks‘ singles “Good Ride Cowboy” and “That Girl Is a Cowboy”), but this was the first time people were singing along to a song that his voice had made famous. “The crazy thing about it was we had cut our teeth in the honky-tonks growing up, so we were playing things like ‘Friends in Low Places’ and ‘Margaritaville,’ But when ‘Lover, Lover’ came out, It was the first time that I got to experience that with something that I released as a single. It was so exciting. It still is. I’ve been asked if I get sick and tired of singing the same song every night, but the truth is to see people singing and cheering along, and caring about music — that never gets old. I was very blessed to have the song change my life, and I’m very blessed for anyone who has ever cranked it up.”
Needless to say, Niemann will be cranking up “Lover, Lover” and his other hits this coming Tuesday as one of the featured acts at “Chords for a Cause,” a benefit concert for Nashville’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The singer tells Billboard he’s excited to be a part of a great evening of music for such a good cause. “We’re going to be out at Dan McGuiness’ Irish Pub (1538 Demonbreun St.), and there’s going to be some great acts there like Hannah Blaylock and Love and Theft, and also some surprise guests. I’m trying to drag Lee Brice out with me. The great thing about Nashville is that you can get people out for a good cause — especially children — with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Nashville is such a great community where everyone comes out and supports each other. So we’re going to be out there to play some songs and help the babies. You can’t beat it.”
With a new year just beginning, Niemann is looking to the future — and some new music. “We’re about to go back into the studio,” he says. “We’ve been writing a lot, and are looking for songs that hopefully will mean something to somebody. That’s always an exciting time and process. We’re also looking to gear up and hit the road. One year we will tour with someone, and then usually the next year, we’ll do our own thing. We were fortunate to be out with Keith Urban last year, so this year we’re just going to roll solo. That way we can play some of our favorite fairs, festivals, and honky-tonks, and see this beautiful country.”