Keith Urban and Monty Powell had been writing together for 15 years and celebrated several big hits together before “Sweet Thing” came along. The song was released in November of 2008, as the first single from Urban’s 2009 album, Defying Gravity. It debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and hit No. 1 in March of 2009; it also won a Grammy, for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, in 2010. However, if it wasn’t for a Mustang, the song may never have been written.
Below, Powell tells The Boot about how “Sweet Thing” came to be.
We spent the morning working on a song that, frankly, really wasn’t great. We really tried hard to have a breakthrough on it, and it wasn’t happening. We were both kinda tired and grumpy, and we were hungry, so we just said, “Let’s go get some lunch.”
[Keith] had shown up at the house in his brand-new Mustang that his wife, Nicole Kidman, had given him as a gift. I was like, “This car is spectacular; let’s go in it.” We went driving around and got some lunch, and then we drove [around] for a little bit because we were having such a good time.
We came back to the house, and instead of even revisiting the song we had started that morning, Keith just started playing this riff on the guitar that is now the “Sweet Thing” riff at the top. I just started singing this lyric about the car and the first date he had with Nicole. The song just started flowing, so I really have to thank the car for giving us the inspiration for this one.