The Story Behind “TACKLE BOX” Recorded By Luke Bryan
The seeds of this song were planted after a visit with my father in Tampa to celebrate his 80th birthday in May of 2004. There was a carrier ship that had recently been restored very similar to one that brought my Dad home from Europe at the end of World War II. While we were aboard the ship, standing together on the bow, he began relating some stories from his recollections of that journey. One in particular was the fact that on that trip across the Atlantic, a storm crossed their path and tossed them on the waves and set a record for the angle at which they were tipped without capsizing. He recounted that after all of the horrors he had seen and experienced during the War, he would meet his ultimate fate on the journey home. Thankfully, not to be the case!
Upon my return to Nashville, I had a writing appointment with a then unknown singer named Luke Bryan. We were both signed as staff writers at Murrah Music. As was our usual fare, we would knock song ideas back and forth, hoping to land on something that piqued both our interests. I relayed my story about my visit to Florida and the carrier ship tour. Luke found the premise interesting and proceeded to relate a story to me about his brother’s early passing and the fact that he was buried with his Grandfather’s tackle box. We decided to combine the stories and the song began to take shape. For me, it was actually quite an easy song to write, as my Dad and many men of his generation didn’t express their feelings with words. Hence the hook, “he opened up, every time he opened up that old tackle box.” The verses began to be filled with the stories that the Grandpa in the song might relate to a young boy out there on the lake on a sunny Saturday morning. “He’d bait my hook and keep on telling stories, about nickel Cokes, girls and sandlot glories, pickup trucks and peanut fields, long before this town knew black top.”
I don’t recall if we finished the song in a day or if we reconvened to complete it, but I do remember we both believed we were on to something good, which is always a blessing. Once we were done we laid down a simple guitar vocal with both of us singing and playing. Luke had not yet learned the bridge I’d found by going to the 6- and walking it down, so I sang the bridge.
A short time passed, a demo session was organized and “Tackle Box” was included and was finely produced by Paul Compton and Bart Bush. The song began to get a little attention and was put on hold for a Blake Shelton project, but alas, did not make the final cut. Thankfully, Luke was signed to Capitol Records a short time later and “Tackle Box” was included on his gold sales certified, debut release “I’ll Stay Me.”