I was on a long drive yesterday listening to Spotify on shuffle when Jon Pardi and Lauren Alaina‘s 2019 duet “Don’t Blame It On Whiskey” came up.
And this song is so damn good. So I hit the rewind button and played it again. And one more time for good measure.
Seriously, why was this song never released as a single?
The duet was included on Jon’s 2019 album Heartache Medication, and was penned by a list of all-star songwriters: Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Luke Laird and Michael P. Heeney. But it was never released as a single, and never really seemed to get the attention that it deserved as one of the best tracks from one of the best albums of 2019.
Talking about how the song came to be, Jon said that he had heard the song a long time ago, but when it came time to pick out tracks for Heartache Medication, he knew he wanted to include it:
“I said, “Pffft, you get Eric and Miranda to let me cut that song, I’ll cut it.”
And we asked, because, of course, maybe they were holding onto it. You never know. It’s such a great song. Maybe Eric wanted to put it on his project someday — you never know. But Eric was excited, and Miranda was excited, and we got the go-ahead.”
Once they got the go-ahead, Jon knew that he wanted it to be a duet. And the first duet partner he thought of was Lauren Alaina.
But when you’re recording a song written by such incredible artists as Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, you’ve got to be careful to sing it your way and not try to imitate the songwriters:
“It’s a great song. I didn’t want to take anything. I wanted to sing it like I would sing his melodies. Which isn’t like Eric, it’s like me. It has the soul of his soul, because he has so much soul. And Miranda’s a great songwriter.
What I love about that and them being songwriters on that is it just puts them as songwriters. You get to see how great they are just as songwriters. And they’re great artists on top of it.”
And you can definitely hear that Eric Church influence in the songwriting, especially the chorus, as the couple describes a failing relationship that they can’t blame on alcohol:
“Don’t blame it on whiskey No this ain’t about a drink Don’t let alcohol take the fall For all these thoughts I think Let’s get down to the bottom And not just the bottom of the glass This heartbreak train’s pickin’ up steam And we’re standing on the track I can blame it on you Or you can blame it on me But don’t blame it on whiskey”
Jon and Lauren’s voices also sound incredible, not only as they each sing their separate lines but also when they bring it together in a style that’s uniquely their own but also clearly influenced by the superstar songwriters.
Now, obviously there’s a lot that goes into picking out a single, and a lot of politics among record labels about which songs can get released and when. Lauren had a massive duet with Kane Brown in 2017 with “What Ifs,” and right before Heartache Medication was released Hardy dropped “One Beer,” which was also a duet featuring Lauren.
And right around the time the duet with Jon was released, Lauren also released a solo single, “Gettin’ Good.” So maybe her label wanted to push Lauren’s solo single rather than another duet with her as a featured artist to a male singer.
It’s just a shame “Don’t Blame It On Whiskey” never made it to radio. Because this song could have been a massive hit.