Carly Pearce On The Searing Honesty In Her Song “29”: “You’re Not Supposed To Write That… That’s A Little Too Risky”

Carly Pearce country music

Carly Pearce certainly found her voice in country music with her incredible 2021 album, 29: Written In Stone.

And now, she’s giving fans a really in-depth look at who she is and where the inspiration for the songs came from.

And as part of the feature CMT Defining, which was recorded alongside her intimate concert event at Marathon Music Works in Nashville that ultimately became her first live album, 29: Written In Stone (Live From Music City), Carly is spilling it all when it comes to her music.

Notably, the story behind “29,” a very personal song where she addresses the reality of the failed expectations she experienced in the wake of her divorce from Michael Ray.

Written by Carly along with Josh Osborne and album producer Shane McAnally, it speaks to all of the unexpected trials that, unbeknownst to her, come along with being that age.

The best part about the song, for me, is that it takes a deep dive into the messiness of having and managing certain expectations that come along with different stages of life.

She gives us a peek into what she now knows about all too well; the crushing blow that can be felt when what you envision for yourself doesn’t work out the way you think it should.

She recalled playing it for friends before it was ever recorded, and them being blown away with how it resonated so universally:

“I remember playing that song for a few of my friends before anybody  heard it, and you know, the collective thing was, this is not just about you… this is about life not working out for somebody.

And we’ve all been there. I remember calling my parents and being like, ‘I’m writing the music that I always wanted to write.

And I have no idea what my record label is gonna say when I turn it in. But this is me.'”

She also recalled playing it for Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta for the first time, too, and being afraid it was almost “too risky” or honest.

Obviously, he loved it, and it became the theme for her career-defining album that’s launched her to the forefront of mainstream country:

“And I remember turning it in, and Scott Borchetta being like, ‘Oh my god.’ And he just wrapped his arms around me, and very much let me be who I am.

As a songwriter, I think there are a few songs in history where you go, ‘Oh, did they really just say that?’ And I feel like this is one of those.

That chorus… you’re not supposed to write that in a song. That’s a little too risky.”

This song is everything I love about Carly and her music, and is still my favorite song in her catalog.

She is most certainly right when she says it’s “one of those” songs for her… I can’t think of a more universally relatable concept for any human on earth than the harsh reality of coming to terms with failed expectations.

Props to Carly for bearing her soul here, because it certainly couldn’t have been easy, but damn if it isn’t absolutely incredible and one that will stand the test of time for many years to come.

And the emotion and feeling behind it is palpable in the live version… I can’t get enough.


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock