A Hot Summer with Keith Urban
by Liz Cruciani
If you were to ask me a few years ago if I was a fan of country music, my answer would have been a quick, “No. Not my cup of tea. This rock n roll chick listening to country music? Unheard of!” That all changed one day in 2017 with a phone call from my friend Erin—an invitation for a girl’s weekend in Philadelphia to see Keith Urban. Hmmm. A girl’s-weekend, Philly-tailgating party. I didn’t really know this artist Keith Urban, but he was nice on the eyes, and did I mention party? I was sold.
To my great surprise, this nice-looking country guitar player named Keith was rather good. No, more than just good—damn straight awesome! So began my investigative musical journey into the boot-stompin’, cowboy-hat-wearin’ world of country music. I began my journey with a recent trip to Florida prior to seeing him in Atlantic City a week later. My rental car’s radio was tuned to CAT Country to initiate my research. Artists such as Garth, Luke, Blake, and others sang their country hearts out. But I found myself eagerly awaiting a Keith Urban tune. My auditory observations revealed that he stands out from all the other country artists in a unique way.
His music and songwriting abilities go beyond the standard country sound and incorporates elements of today’s pop music. As proof, the song “Sun Don’t Let Me Down” from his album Ripcord features none other than Pitbull, with Nile Rodgers on guitar. I found myself singing along. Another song off the same album called “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” has many references to rock n roll and had me singing along after only a few listens. He also co-wrote “Long Hot Summer” with Richard Marx. His latest single release, “We Were,” is another prime example of his great talent in songwriting. The lyrics tell the story of memories of young love.
My second chance to see Keith Urban perform was just recently on August 17 at the Etess Arena at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Another girl’s weekend, but this time I was prepared, having done my homework. My focus was more on Keith and his incredible guitar abilities and stage show than just the party weekend. The arena was a smaller venue and the crowd was diverse, including both young and old alike. His talent shined with each song. Not only did he excel on electric guitar, but also amazed with his bass-playing skills. A few days after the show, I was listening to the Elvis Presley channel on Sirius XM. They were featuring a segment with Elvis’ guitar player James Burton. When asked to name some of his favorite guitarists, Burton mentioned Eric Clapton and Keith Urban!
Keith began the show full force with “Never Comin’ Down,” from his latest album Graffiti U. A definite foreshadowing of his performance that night. He seemed to never come down, only stopping once to engage the audience by reading hand-held signs and selecting one lucky lady to join him onstage. It was her eighteenth birthday, and she was over the moon with excitement. Her mom soon joined them, and they proceeded to Facetime her dad back at home. It was heartwarming and comical at the same time. The audience loved every minute of Keith’s genuine hospitality. Later in the show, a young boy asked for a guitar pick. Keith did one better and gave the boy the guitar he was playing, making sure to autograph it before handing it over. Another sweet gesture to one of his young fans. A duet with Carrie Underwood (her video image playing behind him) highlighted the night. They belted out “The Fighter,” another great song resonating the importance of a guy standing up for his girl.
After my brief research listening to country music, I can comfortably say I’m still more of a Keith Urban fan than a fan of country music itself. Maybe perhaps Keith really is more into rock ’n’ roll, too. A funny story: In July, I fulfilled a concert bucket list. My son and I saw Iron Maiden in Philadelphia. Only a few days after the Keith Urban concert in Atlantic City, I came across a picture on social media of him and his lovely wife, Nicole Kidman, taken with the members of Iron Maiden. They had gone to see the show in their hometown of Tennessee. Right then I knew why I definitely have a connection to his music! All in all, beyond his incredible guitar talent, Keith’s music and songwriting allows for a broader audience appreciation. Give Keith a listen even if you aren’t into country music. You just might find yourself at one of his future performances!
Photo credits by author.
Elizabeth is married and a mom of three boys. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communications - Radio/TV from Marywood University and used to be an associate editor for a long distance education school and an office manager/writer for a local newspaper. She currently lives in Scranton, PA where she focuses on her family and love for writing. She enjoys music, reading, traveling and trips to the beach.