STORY BEHIND THE SONG... "AUSTIN"

Once upon a time, a songwriter in Nashville broke up with his girlfriend. When she moved to Austin, he realized he'd made a terrible mistake. So he put a new outgoing message on his answering machine: "By the way - if this is Austin, I still love you."

When fellow Music City songwriter Kirsti Manna heard the message, she was inspired. She told the story to co-writer David Kent, and together the two came up with a song that would tug at heartstrings nationwide and give 25-year-old newcomer Blake Shelton a multiweek No. 1 smash.

The hardest part of writing "Austin" turned out to be coming up with its happy ending. "He kept missing her, and she kept missing him," says David. "How's it gonna end? The thing that finally worked was the twist ending, where he calls back and thinks for a minute he's got her answering machine - but he's really got her! So that put a bit of a smile at the end of it."

Blake identified with the song right away. "I've had girlfriends I've gotten back together with after we'd broken up, and it never worked out," he recalls. "But 'Austin' relates to all of those situations, whether it works out or not. It's really about second chances."

After Blake sang it, there was still one more bit of work to be done on the song - producer Bobby Braddock felt the original title, "If This Is Austin," was too long. "Bobby said he could just see it as one word, 'Austin,' sitting up there at the top of the charts," remembers David. "We said, 'Hey, Blake's singing the daylights out of it - you can call it 'Boston' if you like!'"

And sit at the top of the chart it did, inspiring couples across the country to give their own broken romances a second chance - although the real couple who inspired the song never did get back together.

Nonetheless, notes David, "We've gotten so much e-mail from people whose lives have been changed. One lady said she'd left her husband after 15 years, thinking she wasn't happy, and didn't tell him where she was going. She'd been away a year, not knowing what to do - then she heard 'Austin.'

"She called her husband and left her number on his machine, he called her back that night, and now they're working on their relationship. Now there's the real reason you write a song."

- Marianne Horner

 

"Austin"
Written by David Kent and Kirsti Manna
Performed by Blake Shelton

She left without leavin' a number
Said she needed to clear her mind
He figured she'd gone back to Austin
'Cause she talked about it all the time
It was almost a year before she called him up
Three rings and an answering machine is what she got

If you're callin' 'bout the car, I sold it
If this is Tuesday night, I'm bowlin'
If you've got somethin' to sell
You're wastin' your time, I'm not buyin'
If it's anybody else, wait for the tone
You know what to do
And P.S. If this is Austin, I still love you

The telephone fell to the counter
She heard, but she couldn't believe
What kind of man would hang on that long
What kind of love that must be
She waited three days
And then she tried again
She didn't know what she'd say
But she heard three rings and then

If it's Friday night, I'm at the ball game
And first thing Saturday, if it don't rain
I'm headed out to the lake
And I'll be gone all weekend long
But I'll call you back
When I get home on Sunday afternoon
And P.S. If this is Austin, I still love you

This time she left her number
But not another word
Then she waited by the phone on Sunday evenin'
And this is what he heard

If you're callin' 'bout my heart, it's still yours
I should've listened to it a little more
Then it wouldn't have taken me so long
To know where I belong
And by the way, boy
This is no machine you're talkin' to
Can't you tell, this is Austin
And I still love you
I still love you

AUSTIN
© 2001 Kirsti MannaSongs,ASCAP,
Talbot Music Pub., Inc., BMI.
Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.

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