4: American Honey

4: American Honey

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

American Honey

Story by Hillary Lindsey

Song written by Hillary Lindsey, Shane Stevens, Cary Ryan Barlowe

Recorded by Lady Antebellum

I was on a trip to Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains with Shane Stevens and Cary Barlowe. While we were there, we saw a sign for American Honey whiskey, so that’s where we got the title.

We started writing it while we were still there in Gatlinburg. We wrote the lines, “She grew up on a side of the road/where church bells ring and strong love grows.” We all grew up in the South. Cary is actually the son of a former preacher. Shane is from North Carolina, and I’m from a tiny town in Georgia, so we had a lot in common as far as our upbringing.

As the story unfolded, we realized that it was a story about all three of us growing up and missing our innocence and wanting to get back to that. There are a lot of metaphors. It’s not really a straight-ahead kind of song. It’s more allegorical, which is kind of cool because it lets the listeners read into it whatever they want.

We all get wrapped up in our jobs and, as songwriters, you worry that you’re never going to write another song or another hit and, before you know it, you act like you’re old and out of ideas, when you’re not. If you allow that to happen, you can worry yourself into oblivion. The innocence and the freedom and the lightness that comes with being young and not knowing so much — and missing that — is what we were going for.

We just did a work tape and sent it over to Paul Worley, Lady Antebellum’s producer, who flipped over it. We weren’t sure it was going to get cut until later on. They actually had their first album close to being wrapped up, so we weren’t sure it was going to happen. We were hopeful, but just thought it might have been too late to get on the album. But the band loved it and they decided to add it at the last minute. The next thing we knew it was cut, and then it was a single, and then it hit #1. I love it when it happens that way!

American Honey

She grew up on a side of the road

Where church bells ring and strong love grows

She grew up good

She grew up slow

Like American honey

Steady as a preacher

Free as a weed

Couldn’t wait to get goin’

But wasn’t quite ready to leave

So innocent, pure and sweet

American honey


There’s a wild, wild whisper

Blowin’ in the wind

Callin’ out my name like a long lost friend

Oh I miss those days as the years go by

Oh nothin’s sweeter than summertime

And American honey

Get caught in the race

Of this crazy life

Tryin’ to be everything

Can make you lose your mind

I just want to go back in time

To American honey, yeah

Gone for so long now

Gotta get back to her somehow

To American honey


You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners