by Marcus K. Dowling
2021 has found veteran country superstar Blake Shelton celebrating his new single “Minimum Wage,” approaching the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot Country Chart in two months. As well, he’s also preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of his acclaimed 2001 single “Austin” via a special vinyl re-release available for pre-order on April 16 – the exact date of the single’s release twenty years ago.
Regarding the release, Shelton noted, “I remember the first time I heard ‘Austin’ on the radio. I was driving on [Nashville’s Interstate] 440, and I kept looking to both sides, trying to see if other drivers were singing along!” He continued, “At that time, the station had a slogan about how they played new artists and legends, and the DJ said something like, ‘Who knows… maybe this artist will become one of the legends.’ This song started it all for me. I couldn’t be prouder to celebrate its 20th anniversary.”
Nashville songwriters Kirsti Manna and David Kent wrote Austin after Manna heard about how a fellow Nashville-based song-crafter broke up with his girlfriend. When she moved to Austin, realizing he’d made a mistake, he put a new outgoing message on his answering machine saying: “By the way – if this is Austin, I still love you.” Together, Kent and Manna developed the song based on the story. The passionate ballad gave then 25-year-old newcomer Shelton a number-one Billboard smash.
In a 2001 interview, Shelton noted, “I’ve had girlfriends I’ve gotten back together with after we’d broken up, and it never worked out. But ‘Austin’ relates to all of those situations, whether it works out or not. It’s really about second chances.”