How Keith Urban Reacted When a Record Label Executive Told Him ‘Golden Road’ Shouldn’t Be an Album

Country star Keith Urban‘s “Golden Road” came out in 2002, but it’s remained a fan-favorite for 20 years, featuring such songs as “Somebody Like You,” “Raining on Sunday,” and “You’ll Think of Me.” But if Urban had listened to the first record label executive who listened to the songs, the album never would have come to fruition. The feedback he left Urban was so rough, the singer felt “gutted.” Thankfully, a colleague gave him the pep talk he needed to see the project through.

Keith Urban, the musician behind 'Golden Road,' speaks into a mic on stage.
Keith Urban | Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Keith Urban got some negative feedback on ‘Golden Road’ early on

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2021, Urban shared the story of how a record label executive shot down “Golden Road.”

“I remember it so vividly,” he said. “He sat there listening to [the songs] and he goes, ‘No, I don’t hear anything’. And I said, ‘What do you mean, don’t hear anything? You mean maybe you don’t hear something for radio?’ He goes, ‘No, I just don’t hear anything that you should put on your record’. And I was like, ‘Well, these are all for the record.’”

The singer was “gutted.”

“Golden Road” certainly showed a different side of Urban. The songs were self-produced and not typical country. But were they really unusable?

The pep talk he needed to finish ‘Golden Road’

After the devastating review, Urban called the record’s engineer, Justin Niebank to tell him about the conversation.

“[Niebank said] ‘You went into that meeting with your artist hat on, you should have had your producer hat on’. And I said, ‘What would have been the difference?’ He said, ‘You would realize that the guy’s a complete idiot and you would have walked out of there going: These songs are fine, that guy’s a wanker and we’re just going to go and make the rest of the record. And that’s when you would call the artist and you would give them the good news’.”

The phone call changed everything for Urban. All of a sudden, he had a new approach.

“I was like, ‘Well, that sounds really good. That sounds very empowering, I’m going to do that,’” he said.

The success of ‘Golden Road’

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“Golden Road” track list:

  1. Somebody Like You
  2. Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me
  3. Whenever I Run
  4. What About Me
  5. You’ll Think of Me
  6. Jeans On
  7. You Look Good In My Shirt
  8. You’re Not Alone Tonight
  9. You Won
  10. Song For Dad
  11. Raining On Sunday
  12. You’re Not My God
  13. One Chord Song

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“Golden Road” debuted on October 8, 2002 from Capital Records Nashville. The album includes four singles: “Somebody Like You,” “Raining On Sunday,” “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” and “You’ll Think Of Me.” Despite the record label executive’s initial feedback and despite branching out further from country into rock, pop, and bluegrass, the album performed impressively well.

Urban only played the label president six tracks from the album. One of those songs, “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” hit No. 1 on the U.S. country chart. From the complete list, two more tracks hit No. 1 and another came in at number three. The album went triple Platinum in the U.S.