Music Video: “Outskirts of Heaven

CRAIG CAMPBELL Web-Exclusive Interview

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Craig Campbell has had five consecutive charting hits and has sold a million downloads. “Keep Them Kisses Comin’” (written by Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip) is his biggest hit so far—reaching No. 7 on the Mediabase Country chart and No. 9 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. It has over one million YouTube views (1,119, 384 views to date). When asked about his incredible success with music videos, he laughs and says, “YouTube has been good to me.” His “Outta My Head” has almost four million YouTube views (3,904,318 to date). The song was written by Michael Carter, Brandon Kinney and Cole Swindell. “When I heard that song,” he says “it immediately took me back to my high school.”

Photo credit: Jason Myers

Photo credit: Jason Myers


Dedicated to his music, Campbell’s passion and tenacity is easily seen when he talks about the craft of songwriting and performing his music in front of a live audience. His artful, down-to-earth imagery is in the spotlight with his new hit “Outskirts of Heaven.” In 2014, Campbell’s label folded, but he called and asked radio stations to continue playing “Kisses Comin’”—and the song stayed on the charts six weeks after the label’s closure. Even though he didn’t write it, he says “the song reminds me of my wife.”


Campbell has also had amazing success with his own songs recorded by others. Garth Brooks was the first person to cut one of his songs, “All American Kid” for his 2014 Man Against the Machine. He has enjoyed the process, and success, of co-writing songs. He burst onto the scene in 2010 with his very personal “Family Man,” which he wrote when he was going to become a father for the first time. This co-write with Jon Henderson and Joel Eric Shewmake has over two million YouTube views (2,263,264 to date). And with his second album in 2013, Never Regret, he already earned comparisons to Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson and Clint Black.


Campbell not only writes songs about family and love, but his humor is showcased on “When I Get It,” a song he co-wrote with Patrick Jason Matthews and Jim McCormick—“When I get it—you’ll get it.” And that’s something most people can relate to. He takes that humor one step further on “Fish” (which he co-wrote with Arlos Smith and Ashe Underwood). “When we wrote it,” Campbell said, “they told us nobody would ever cut it. I said, ‘no big deal—I’ll record it.’” The song has sold extremely well, and has had over two million YouTube views (2,038,689 views to date). We talked with Craig Campbell about how songwriting has helped define him, and let people know who he is and what he believes.

Photo credit: Bo Ibottson

Photo credit: Bo Ibottson


How did the idea of “Outskirts of Heaven” come to you?

Growing up in a strong Southern Baptist home, I had a vivid image of how the Bible describes Heaven. For example, gold streets, pearly gates, mansions and glowing lights seem to be very “metro.” So as a country boy, I want my Heaven to be a little different. “Outskirts of Heaven” is a prayer request of sorts—making sure that when I get there, the Good Lord will have prepared this place for me.


When most songs these days are written specifically for radio, was it difficult to write and record a faith-based song?

I wasn’t thinking of radio when I wrote “Outskirts of Heaven”—not at all. I wrote it for me. After a few times playing it at shows, I realized it was indeed a special song, and I knew that we had to give it to radio so that everyone could have a chance to hear this song.


What is your creative process for writing songs?

I am an idea guy. I consider myself a great “editor” of songs during the writing process. I have ideas that are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and I rely on my amazing co-writers to help me put this musical puzzle together.


What songwriting tip would you like to offer?

Write often, and with people you enjoy writing. I think songwriting should be fun, and less like a job.


Craig Campbell - Craig Campbell - 2011How do you keep song ideas fresh—and continue to think of new ideas?

I just try to keep my third ear open. Sometimes you can hear someone say something that might be a great title or idea—something that has never been written in the way you hear them say it.


How has co-writing shaped your music?

Co-writing has helped me define myself as a person. Being able to let people know who I am and what I believe—is all a result of writing my own songs. I book as many co-writes as possible—it’s my retirement plan. (Laughs)


Tell us one experience where something unique inspired you to write a song.

When I wrote “Family Man,” I recently found out I was going to be a father for the first time. That was a special time in my life, and I had to write about it.


Who influenced you to pick up different instruments?
I played piano from an early age because I was drawn to it. I looked at it, and it just made sense. I always wanted to play guitar, but didn’t want to buy one—in case I couldn’t play it. I won my first guitar in a singing competition—at age 15.


Who inspired you to write songs?

I had a conversation with Luke Bryan who told me that although I was already writing, I needed to be writing every day—and with different writers. He also added that was not a “get discovered soon” tactic—it would help define me as an artist.


Tell us about Garth Brooks cutting your song—how it felt when you first found out, and did that change your life in music?
Up to that point, I had never had a song recorded by another artist—so I was a little skeptical when I got an email saying Garth Brooks wanted to record one of my songs. It was definitely a bucket list item for me—even though I didn’t know it was on a bucket list—simply because I never even thought that was a possibility. It looks great on my resume!


Top 5 Musicians or Songwriters who inspired you to become a musician?

Travis Tritt, Bertha Dukes (my Mom), Alan Jackson, Keith Stegall, and Pig Robbins.


What instrument can you not live without—that helps you write, record or perform?

When it comes to songwriting, I love my McPherson Kevin Michael carbon fiber guitar. It’s so travel-worthy, lightweight and sounds amazing. On the live side of things, I can never be on stage without my custom McPherson. Not only does it have my name on the fretboard, it is the best-sounding guitar I have ever played.


Photo credit: Drew Filmore

Photo credit: Drew Filmore

Tell us one highlight of playing for other musicians.

Playing piano for Tracy Byrd was a great experience. I remember one time Tracy was not ready to come on stage so he sent word to the band that he wanted me to sing a few songs to kill some time. That was a pretty big deal for me!


Any musicians or songwriters you’d love to work with in the future?

I would love to do a show (really, a few shows) with George Strait. As for songwriting, I am very fortunate to write with my songwriting heroes already.


What PRO are you with—and how do they help a songwriter/artist you?

I am a SESAC affiliate. They have helped me in so many ways, and they are always there to take my calls and visits. It is very family style with one-on-one attention, and I love that about SESAC.
What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?

It’s All About to Change (1991) – Travis Tritt

If That Ain’t Country (2002) – Anthony Smith

That’s Why I Sing This Way (2002) – Daryle Singletary

Rubberband (2013) – Charlie Worsham

Killin’ Time (1989) – Clint Black


What’s next?

The main focus for me at the moment is getting “Outskirts of Heaven” up the charts. An album is always in the works but unfortunately a release date is undetermined.


Where can your new fans get more info and stay updated? is a good spot—as well as Google. I am the first Craig Campbell that pops up.

Photo credit: Jason Myers

Photo credit: Jason Myers

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