Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett; Photos by Andrew Wendowski
Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett; Photos by Andrew Wendowski

Cole Swindell Teases Duet With Thomas Rhett, Talks Writing “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” With Rhett

Cole Swindell teased a duet with Thomas Rhett and talked about writing his new song “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” with the “Slow Down Summer” singer while co-hosting Country Countdown USA back in April.

Swindell told host Lon Helton that the song was born out of both he and Rhett’s love for ’90s country music.

“We both love ’90s country music, and we wanted to pick a song that we could put a spin on,” Swindell said. That Jo Dee Messina song [“Heads Carolina, Tails California“] was one of my favorites. I’ve always had a good time at karaoke, and that was the idea behind it.”

Swindell continued to say that he told Messina about the song and even suggested there might a version of him and Rhett singing on it.

“I sent Jo Dee [Messina] a message a few weeks ago and let her know what we were doing, and if there ever becomes a time, I could see us doing something on stage,” Swindell explained before teasing, “there might even be a version with Thomas Rhett on it.”

Swindell shared more about the song with Audacy’s Katie Neal during her show, Katie & Company’s Superstar Power Hour.

“First off, we had to call the original writers Tim Nichols and Mark Sanders to just kind of tell them what our idea was,” Swindell said of the writing process behind the song. “I had no idea if they were going to be cool with it or not — if they hadn’t been, we wouldn’t have done it.“

He also reiterated giving the song’s source of inspiration–Messina–the heads up about what he and Rhett had made.

“I let her know that I was a fan and just that we wouldn’t have that song without her original, ‘Heads Carolina, Tails California,’” he said. “I told her I want her to be a part of this as much or as little as she wants,” he added.

Swindell told Neal he’d never done anything like the song before.

“Obviously [Thomas Rhett and I are] both big ‘90s country fans, I was a fan of his dad [songwriter Rhett Akins] when I was growing up and just had this idea of, ‘Man, I’ve never done anything like that’ — kinda used a song that I grew up listening to and put our own little spin on it,” he explained. “From the first guitar lick of the song you’re going to think that it’s Jo Dee Messina’s version.”

Swindell admitted that there was a lot of pressure in getting the original songwriters’ permission to re-imagine Messina’s song back in April during an interview with Country Now. Everything eventually worked out, and Swindell shared that fans’ reaction to the song has been fun to watch.

“We played it live a few times and, obviously, people think they know it when it gets to that chorus and they’re screaming the song because it’s such a big hit from the ‘90s and when it gets to the line about South Georgia it kind of throws them off,” he revealed. “So, I’m ready for this to come out, so people can learn the words to this one,” he said prior to releasing his fourth studio album, Stereotype, on which the song appears.

Swindell will stop by a variety of country music festivals this summer, including Faster Horses and more.

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