What We Ain't Got

Album: Days of Gold (2013)
Charted: 89

Songfacts®:

  • This Travis Jerome Goff and Travis Meadows-written piano and pedal-steel vocal ballad finds Jake Owen singing about a guy lamenting a lost relationship. He explained to Radio.com why as a happily married man, he can relate to the lyric about a heartbroken lover. "I don't think songs have to be literal in order for listeners to truly relate to them," said Owen. "I've definitely been there before, where I've let someone go that I shouldn't have. And looking back I could probably have been a better person. But where I am in my life right now, I have everything I need. I have a wife that I love, and a beautiful girl [his daughter Pearl]. But I kinda also want to be better dad, I want to be a better husband. And I think that's that same sentiment of wanting more than what you have right now."
  • Owen released the ballad as the third single from his Days Of Gold album. "It's a big, big step for me to put out a song that's a ballad that has a lot of meaning behind it," he told Radio.com. "It's a deep song that deals on a lot of levels with everyone looking at their own life. We all work so hard day to day, and we want more and more and more. This is a world of wanting more. It's a song about looking at where you are and appreciating what you have, 'cause once it's gone we all want what we don't have."
  • Co-writer Travis Meadows is a recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor and he originally released the song on his 2011 album Killin' Uncle Buzzy. "My whole world started over with that record," Meadows told Rolling Stone. "Jake has always been very kind to me. After he sang 'What We Ain't Got' on Jimmy Kimmel, he called me soon after. He goes, 'How'd I do, man? Did you like it?' It says a lot about his heart."
  • Owen said that he was immediately taken by Meadows' honesty on his album and he recorded the piano and steel guitar ballad as he found similarities in his own life. "There's a line that goes 'I wanted the world 'til my whole world stopped,'" Owen said. "I know what he meant by that. I have to be careful to not want too much out of this world and lose my own. Even though I have a lot in my life right now, and I'm thankful for everything, I find myself working really hard every day to attain more and more."

    "But yet sometimes by doing that, I disregard the things I already have that are precious to me," he continued. "Whether it's my wife who gets upset sometimes because I'm always on my phone, or it's my twin brother who is like, 'Dude, you never call me back.'"
  • Owen feels the song is a game-changer for him. "I take a lot of pride in being a pretty good singer, and songs like 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' and 'Beachin',' where I'm kind of just talking, don't showcase that," he admitted. "For the first time in my career, I feel like it's imperative for me to put out a song that offers some validity."
  • The song's music video shows various people looking serious and sad before the struggles in their lives are shown. The clip was directed by Mason Dixon, who has helmed all of Jake Owen's visuals since "Tell Me" in 2010. Owen said the credit for the concept deserves to be shared among several people. "It was a group effort on my part, his part and my creative team at the label," the explained. "It's such an important song in my career and one of the greatest songs I've ever recorded, so we put a lot of effort into making the video as good as the song."
  • Owen told Entertainment Tonight about the video: "It's really hard sometimes to create a visual depiction of something that's so well written as a song, and I've never made a video for a serious song before. It was a lot harder to work on than others. The people in the video are real characters and once you listen to the lyrics and the video together, you'll see it's very real."

    The first guy you see is co-writer Travis Meadows. Owen told Billboard magazine: "It was important to have him in there because everything he went through to write the song - from addiction to losing his wife -- you can see it in his face in the video."
  • Owen contacted Meadows directly on the phone about covering his song. "I told him that the song was so brilliant, and though I had never been addicted to any kind of drugs or been divorced, there was one line in the song: 'I wanted the world until my whole world stopped' - that hit me," he told Billboard. "As a 33-year-old man that is married with a child, I try to balance my life out on the road. I've noticed that my chase of wanting to be better and wanting to win awards sometimes clouds my vision of what is real on a day-to-day basis. Although I might not relate to the song in other ways, that's what hit me."

    "I asked him if he minded if I recorded the song, because I really wanted to sing it. I wanted people to hear this side of me," Owen added. "I believe in music like this. It also gives me a chance to be something different than the 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' guy. I fought hard for it to be a single, because I felt like it was the time in my career to put it out."

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