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As the clock ticked toward midnight, veteran songwriting partners Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley were about to call it a night. They'd worked in vain through the evening trying to create a catchy new song, but nothing had materialized.

Then Neil's wife, Lana, arrived home. "She walked in the room and went straight up to the fireplace mantel," explains Wendell. "She just lit some candles and kicked the lights down a little."

Her actions sparked an idea. "Lana actually set the mood for the song by doing that," he continues. "Neil started playing the intro - and the words just started pouring out."

The writers came up with a melody, a verse and a few other lines that night. Considering the late hour, they decided to finish it later. But before Wendell left, the two friends discussed who might perform the song. "Instantly, Wendell and I looked at each other," recalls Neil, "and said, 'This would be perfect for Rascal Flatts!' "

Neil and Wendell had previously talked with Rascal Flatts' singer Gary LeVox about writing songs with the hot trio. So they contacted Gary to see if he wanted to finish "I Melt" with them. "He called and we finished it that day," notes Gary.

The hit started a hot streak for Neil and Wendell - they're also responsible for Kenny Chesney's recent hit "There Goes My Life," among other tunes.

"There's just a great chemistry there," says Wendell. "It's like we're brothers. And when we sat down with Gary, he really fit in. He's just a laid-back guy, and everything's kind of light. We don't take it too seriously. We seem to get a lot more done that way creatively."

When the writers played the song for the other two members of Rascal Flatts - Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney - they were just as responsive as Gary. "They flipped out!" exclaims Wendell. "They wanted to cut it right away."

Jay remembers recognizing the tune's strengths the very first time he heard it. "It's one of my favorites on the record," he says. "It's just a big ol' power ballad. If that song doesn't move you, there's something wrong."

Gary figures he knows the secret to the song's popularity. "It's a sexy tune," he says with a smile. "I think a lot of women would like to hear a man say that - that you don't have to do anything special to make him melt."

-- Alanna Horner