The Ones That Got Away: Hit Songs Passed On and Picked Up by Others

Wendy Geller
July 1, 2014

Can you imagine "Drink a Beer" done by anyone but Luke Bryan? How about "Jesus Take the Wheel" by someone other than Carrie Underwood?

Hard as it may be to believe, many of your favorite country songs were pitched to different singers, who decided to pass on them. That's a good thing, because the tunes eventually were picked up by the "right" artists, and went on to become huge hits.

At a recent show in Nashville for the CMA Songwriters series, Dierks Bentley revealed several songs that he was offered to record, but decided not to. One of those? "Drink a Beer." 

As more proof that the composition was just right for the singer who picked it up, Bryan ended up working the song out into a tribute to his late brother and sister... and the track has sold more than 1 million copies to date. (Of course, we don't think Bentley is crying too hard into his own beer. He's notched 11 No. 1  hits of his own, and his current single "Drunk on a Plane" is rapidly rising up the country charts.)
Then there's Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me." The song was originally offered to her husband, Blake Shelton, who was all set to record it. However, Lambert loved the tune so much after she heard it, that he decided to give it to her. It was a very generous gesture — especially since she ended up nabbing a Grammy for the song.
Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel" was passed over by Sara Evans. But Underwood herself reportedly turned down "American Honey," which later became a hit for Lady Antebellum.
Faith Hill ended up doing the 2001 hit "There You'll Be" after Celine Dion rejected it. Garth Brooks said that his 1990 classic "Friends in Low Places" was held for him, but it was also recorded and released around the same time by singer Mark Chestnutt. And it's well known that LeAnn Rimes's breakthrough hit, "Blue," was written for Patsy Cline.
Also one final kicker: according to The Star, Tim McGraw was initially offered a judge role on "The Voice." Whether that's true or not: We all know which country star is in the red seat these days!

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