STORY BEHIND THE SONG - "LIVE UNTIL I DIE"
Today's comfortably wealthy stars didn't always have it so good.
Today's comfortably wealthy stars didn't always have it so good. Back around 1989, Clay Walker, for example, practically defined "struggling artist."
"I lived in a modest apartment in Beaumont, Texas," says Clay, chuckling at the "modest" description. "I didn't have any furniture. I had a sleeping bag for a bed, and I used speaker columns for a table. And I had plastic knives and forks that I washed every day."
That wasn't exactly the glamorous life Clay had imagined for himself, and the 20-year-old was definitely in need of some cheering up. So one night, he drew upon a sweet childhood memory to write the song "Live Until I Die."
Clay went back in time to his childhood and recalled sitting at his grandmother's table. "Grandma and I would take blackberries and put them in a bowl with some cream and sugar," says Clay with a smile. "She would make cobbler and jelly out of the berries."
That scene triggered more memories, and Clay began writing: skippin' rocks, skippin' rope ... things I loved when I was a kid. He scratched out the words on the same speaker column that served as his table.
"The song kind of wrote itself, there was no struggle at all," Clay remembers. "Melody and words all came to me at the same time, and I wrote it in one night. It was like I was on this road - and it was the right road the whole time."
But Clay figured that the song would take a different path. Even though he based "Live Until I Die" on his own experience, Clay wanted to pitch it to an established star.
"I never really had confidence in my voice at that time," Clay explains. "My goal was to pitch it to Randy Travis or Clint Black, because I wanted to get a cut, thinking that would lead to a record deal of my own."
Clay eventually did get the cut - for himself! "Live Until I Die" became his second single, and the tune went No. 1 in early 1994.
Looking back on the inspiration for the song, Clay reveals that he wouldn't change anything about his past.
"Who knows," he says, "if I had been born a rich kid, I might not have had the desire to achieve anything. I feel that we have to take what we have and make it better."