In 2010, he released his first single, the tearjerking story song “Raymond,” about a dementia patient in a care center who mistakes the janitor for her deceased son.
“I think the main thing for me is I just try to be real with whatever I put out there,” he said. “With ‘Raymond,' that was something that was really important to me and I got it out there. It was inspired by my grandmother and that was something heavy. I am a big family guy and I'm close to my family, so that hit hard for me. But I'm also a very light-hearted person and just like to have fun 75 percent of the time. I don't write all sad songs by any means, so I wanted everybody to be able to see another part of me, as well.”
His playful new single “Don't Ya,” for which he recently shot the music video, fits the bill nicely. While he wrote “Raymond” based on his grandmother's struggles with Alzheimer's disease, he based “Don't Ya” on a flirtatious fan at one of his shows.
“She kept acting like she didn't know what she was doing, but she knew what she was doing. She was like playing tricks on me. The whole band and everybody kept looking on her,” he said with a laugh. “It went from that inspiration to writing a fun song ... about how girls play tricks on your mind.”
In between, the singer-songwriter got the fun opportunity to watch Gwyneth Paltrow hum along to his rowdy come-on “Ain't Gotta Be Love” in the 2011 movie “Country Strong.” He also co-wrote the party anthem “Thirsty,” which Hank Williams Jr. recorded for the film.
“I've never stayed for the credits for a movie in my life, but I stayed there just to see my name scroll by,” he said with a laugh. “It was a little thing, but it was cool. ... I had a fun journey with that.”
As he sorts through the more than 200 songs he's written and 20 or more he's recorded to assemble his still-unnamed first album, Eldredge is still inspired by the singers he grew up with, from Norman native Vince Gill to Ol' Blue Eyes.
“You could just feel what they were singing when they were singing, with such big voices. I think with my new stuff, I'm really able to ... get my voice out there and get some of my soulful influence in,” he said.
“It's a lot of lyrics about life and partying and having a good time but a little heartbreak in there mixed in with it all, too.”