Keith Urban's life-changing moment with his dad and Johnny Cash, when he was only 5

Capitol Nashville

When Keith Urban sings “Saw the man in black/ Spotlight in the air/ Heard a thousand screams/ Saw my dad’s stare,” in his new hit, “Wild Hearts,” he’s actually sharing one of his pivotal memories.

The freedom anthem came to Keith — fully finished — via Old Dominion‘s Brad TursiRunaway June‘s Jennifer Wayne, and singer/songwriter Eric Paslay. But it resonated with the Aussie superstar so much, he asked if he could change the verses to make them more personal.

“I sat down and thought about my journey, and when did that begin?” Keith explains. “And the very first thing that popped in my head was probably when my dad took our family to see Johnny Cash.”

“I was five, and that’s an impactful concert to see at any point in your life,” he reflects. “But when you’re five, it was something else.”

It’s an experience that helped propel Keith onto the stages of arenas all over the world.

“The things I remembered mostly about it were, of course, this guy up on stage,” he recalls. “I remember this white-hot spotlight coming all the way from the back of the room. It was huge. I remember the screaming of this crowd.”

He continues, “And then I remember looking up at my dad and seeing the way that he looked at this person on stage. And probably subconsciously, I probably thought, ‘I’ve never seen my dad look at me like that.’ And so that probably was the beginning of my journey.”

“Wild Hearts” ended up being so powerful, Keith decided to immediately put it out, though it’s not on his latest album, The Speed of Now Part 1, which was released in September 2020.

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