David Nail admits that a recent event made him aware of what cheating feels like. Don’t worry: All is well in his marriage to wife Catherine. But the lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan recently found himself on “enemy ground,” taking part in a charity event on behalf of… a Chicago Cubs star.
“I was there for four days, and had done a charity thing for John Lester. I got to tour Wrigley Field and was surrounded by Cubs for four days. It was a little different. It felt like I was cheating on someone,” he said with a laugh.
Nail concedes that 2016 has been somewhat different because the Cubs, a division rival of St. Louis in the NL East, have garnered the bulk of the headlines this season. “I have always said that it’s very easy to be a Cardinals fan because we’ve always been extremely blessed — especially in my lifetime. So for me to be bitter or upset about the Cubs putting together a good season — and they are an all-star team with a lot of talent. It looks like they are finally putting things together at the perfect time.”
That could also be said of Nail. The singer — known for Country Airplay No. 1 records such as “Let It Rain” and “Whatever She’s Got” — released his fourth studio album, Fighter, on Friday. He said the project is very much a personal one. Over the years, the singer has endured many personal and professional valleys, ranging from losing his record deal with Mercury in the early 2000s to a battle with depression. He said that after writing the title cut with Scooter Carusoe and Troy Verges, his wife pushed for the song to be the title cut. After all, she reasoned, it was the story of his life.
“She told me, ‘Nothing you have ever done in your career has come easy.’ She just kind of went through the series of my professional ups and downs. She told me, ‘You’ve had to fight for everything in your career, to stay relevant. That is why it needs to be called Fighter. It just symbolizes your career.’ I have to give her credit. She gave me a lot of clarity on why the song was significant.”
The lead single from Fighter, “Night’s On Fire,” recently climbed to No. 14 on the Country Airplay chart, but Nail knows there will be quite a bit of interest in the lyrics on the album — his first since he and Catherine became parents to twins (son Lawson Brent Nail and daughter Lillian Catherine were born in December).
“From the moment that we went public with the fact that we were expecting, everybody would ask me, ‘Is this going to change the music that you’re going to make or the artist that you are?’ I got to the point where I really started to develop a complex. I hadn’t noticed any significance of any kind. I was starting to wonder if I wasn’t recognizing the significance of becoming a parent, and I wondered what was wrong with me. It was really starting to upset me, more so after the kids were born. But I didn’t really want to write a song just because I’ve got a record coming out, and now I have kids. That seemed like such an obvious thing to do. I wanted it to come very organically, with very little thought. About three months after the kids were born, I was upstairs in our house and started reflecting on everything we’ve been through and how much our life has changed.”
Once fatherhood began to set in with the singer, the inspiration to write about his feelings finally kicked in, with “Babies,” written with Lee Thomas Miller and Carusoe. “Since the kids were born, I had been going out every morning and getting breakfast for my wife, so we didn’t have to clean any dishes and could focus on the babies. One morning, I asked her if she minded if I stayed there and ate and I would bring hers home afterwards. She said she didn’t care. So I went up to this place in Brentwood where I had been going a lot. I sat down and just started writing down lines of things I wanted to say. As I was sitting there, I found myself getting emotional all over again. I texted Scooter because I knew that he had been through some of the same things that she and I had been through and that he knew our story. I texted him and said that I think I was finally ready to sit down and write a song about our kids. He immediately texted me back and said that he’d already started on it. My first thought was that he didn’t know anything about what I was going through in my head. I was kind of turned off, and before I could send him a text telling him to please wait until we came face to face in a room, he sent me what, in essence, became the first verse of the song.”
As it turned out, “Babies” ended up becoming one of the most personal compositions of Nail’s career. “It was literally my story and also how I wanted to go about it. I wanted it to be basically a conversation with me and the kids, telling them who their parents were and how significant the journey was. I wanted them to know how long we’ve waited for them and how hard it was to get pregnant and to have them and how much prayer, love and support we had to have just to welcome them into this world. The song just fell out like a conversation.”