This fist-pumping rallying cry is an ode to all the "wild hearts" that have been told they'll never amount to anything. Urban urges the underdogs to carry on doing things in their own way. "I'm here to tell you anything can happen in this life," he croons, "if you got that heart and the passion and a God-lit fire inside."
Urban said the song is "fairly autobiographical," adding, "It's mostly about following your heart, following your dreams and going for it no matter what anybody says. It's about believing in yourself and shooting for the stars."
Urban starts this empowering call-to-arms song by recounting his father taking him to see Johnny Cash at a Brisbane show when he was 5 years old.
Saw the man in black, spotlight in the air
Heard a thousand screams, I saw my daddy stare
Seeing his father mesmerized by Johnny Cash's performance ignited a dream for the young Keith Urban. He wanted to be a rock star "lifting their guitars and painting the sky."
Urban teamed up with fellow country star Eric Paslay, Old Dominion's Brad Tursi, and Runaway June's Jennifer Wayne to write this rise-against-all-odds anthem.
Urban co-produced the track with Mitch Furr. This was Furr's first opportunity to produce a major artist's track; his previous credits had been mainly as engineer or assistant engineer on Devin Dawson's records.
Brad Tursi, Jennifer Wayne and Eric Paslay wrote the original song, then Urban gave it a few tweaks. It finds the Australian country star encouraging those dreamers questioning the legitimacy of their dreams. When he heard the demo for the first time, the chorus especially hit home as it addressed the "lost ones." Urban told Audacy's Coop:
"My favorite line in that chorus was when they said, 'Can you hear me all of you lost ones, you aren't really lost ones,' I was just like, 'Man!' I've heard people talk about 'Oh, hey all you lost ones, we're all in this together blah, blah, blah,' but I've never heard someone say say, 'Hey, all you lost ones, you aren't really lost ones.' That felt so empowering to me in that song - I was hooked."
Has anyone ever told you, you'll never amount to anything?
You're just wasting your time chasing the tail of a dragon kind of dream
But I'm here to tell you anything can happen in this life
If you got that heart and the passion and a God lit fire inside
In the second verse, Keith Urban recounts how he got a lot of negative comments when he was trying to get his break into the music community. "I had plenty of those people in my life that didn't believe in me, thought I was wasting my time," he said. "And I probably found that fuel for my fire even more than the people who believed in me. It was sort of the motivation for proving them wrong was great motivation."
Urban recalled one incident in his early 20s when he returned home to Australia after writing some songs in Nashville. One day he was playing at a country music festival and an older artist asked him backstage where he'd been. Urban told him he'd been in Nashville writing songs, to which the guy condescendingly responded: "Yeah, yeah, you've got to get it out of your system, don't ya?"
Urban was furious at the older country artist's jaded comment, but now he's grateful, as it gave him motivation to keep pursuing his dream. "That verse is kind of somewhat of a thank you to the people who say you can't do it," Urban said, "because they give me, people like me a lot of fuel."
When Urban first heard Brad Tursi, Jennifer Wayne and Eric Paslay's demo he connected with the chorus but not the verses. He passed on the song, but after a week he found the chorus wouldn't leave his head, so he asked to rewrite the verses. Once they agreed, the memory of attending the Johnny Cash concert with his dad came pouring out.
"That was a profound first concert for anybody, let alone a 5-year-old," Urban told Taste Of Country Nights
. "That's the loudest, drunkest group of people I had ever been around and it was exciting. You're five years old and just packed in this arena and I was just so mesmerized by how loud everybody was."
Urban drew a connection between that life-changing concert and this song's message of following your dreams. "I remember at one point, my dad's expression," he said. "Like staring at this guy on stage in a way I'd never seen him stare at somebody. Like transfixed. I'm sure a child psychologist would probably say I wish he stared at me like that. 'I've never gotten that stare. What's that guy doing out there to get my dad's attention like that?'"
Keith Urban took the stage at the 2021 CMA Awards for a rollicking performance of this song. Before delivering the uptempo tune, he dedicated it to all the "born-to-be rock stars" and all the dreamers.
"Wild Hearts" came together as fast as any song Urban has done. Brad Tursi, Jennifer Wayne and Eric Paslay sent him the track in early May 2021, and the singer rewrote the lyrics over the next couple of weeks. Once he was happy with his revamp, Urban went into his studio and put down a vocal, then built out the demo adding guitars. The following week, he sent the completed song to his manager, who loved it and suggested he put it out straight away. Urban released "Wild Hearts" on August 19, 2021.