Matt Stell Really Did Go Everywhere in “Everywhere But On”

You know how in Matt Stell’s heartbreaking break-up song “Everywhere But On” he lists all the places he’s gone and things he’s done to try to get over his ex? It’s all true.

Stell and I recently had a long and enlightening conversation — while he was self-quarantining at his place in West Nashville — all about the song he wrote with Lance Miller and Paul Sikes.

“I remember that day we wrote it like it was yesterday. We walked into Paul’s home studio and he said, ’I have this title Everywhere But On,’” Stell told me. “I thought, ’Man, that is really cool.’ We started writing it right away, because anytime an idea crystallizes and you’re all on the same page, that’s really when it all comes together. I injected some autobiographical details in there, because that helps make the character authentic when you can put yourself in the song.”

CMT.com: So exactly how autobiographical is the song?

Stell: When we wrote “Everywhere But On,” I was still with my girlfriend. So it’s more about being a guy going through a break-up if I was going through a break up. Being on the road, and being a touring musician plays such a big part in what I’ve done and where I’ve been, and it’s hard to escape that. So I’d say the details are very autobiographical. My mail was still going to my mama’s house and that still happens to this day. And all of the jobs that I’d worked once I moved to Nashville: loading trucks, pouring coffee, pouring concrete. I’ve done all that, except coffee. I’ve worked construction, worked on a farm, sold used trucks, run online web stores, driven an Uber, was part of the adjunct faculty at Nashville State Community College. This song is 100 percent relatable.

Wait. You were really an Uber driver? What was that like?

I did it for about a year off and on. I liked it because it was so flexible, instead of having a 9 to 5 job. I needed to be free for songwriting sessions, and then have my nights free to play shows. So for me, it was great as a stopgap kind of thing. There is no shame in working hard, and I’m proud of all those jobs I’ve done.

What I love about the song is that it’s a truth no other country song has really touched on before. That you can try anything and everything to get over someone — moving somewhere else, drowning your sorrows, looking for a new love, letting time do its healing thing — but sometimes you’re just paralyzed. Is that how you think fans are hearing it, or am I over-analyzing it?

Well, I always enjoy when people reach out on social media. That’s a good sign that they are taking the time to tell me how a song made them feel. And yes, the moving on part of this one is hard. Because at some point there’s a line between staying busy and just running from your problems. So even though this one is not about me and being single right now, per se, there is truth in it. And the truth is, you have to be honest with yourself.

When you think about how your debut single “Prayed For You” was about praying for and then finding love, and then “Everywhere But On” is kind of the aftermath of having loved and then lost someone, was that intentional? To release consecutive songs that tell a bigger story when you put them together, kind of like, Love Part One and Love Part Two?

Not intentionally, no. Sometimes songs just have lead characters. Like I may be the one singing it, but it isn’t always about me and my life. Sometimes Kenny Rogers is “The Gambler” and then sometimes he’s one of the “Islands in the Stream.” The fact that my first two songs progressed in the way that a relationship might, that was more unconscious.

Embedded from www.youtube.com.

Full lyrics for “Everywhere But On”

It’s a big ol’ world outside this little town
Thought that’s all I needed to drown you out
It was gonna be easy, it was supposed to be easy
Put some days, put some miles in the rear view
A few state lines between me and you
Just a little space and time and I’d be fine

I’ve been from Savannah to Long Beach
Trying to keep your memory out of reach
But there you were in the Delta nights
The Santa Fe sun, the Colorado sky
I could add another push pin to the map
But that don’t stop me from missing you and looking back
Guess there’s just one place I haven’t gone
I’ve moved everywhere but on

My mail’s still going to mama’s house
’Cause I’m still long gone trying to figure out
Who I am without you and why I still think about you
Just biding my time making ends meet
Loading trucks, pouring coffee, pouring concrete
Planning my next move for getting over you, yeah

I’ve been from Savannah to Long Beach
Trying to keep your memory out of reach
But there you were in the Delta nights
The Santa Fe sun, the Colorado sky
I could add another push pin to the map
But that don’t stop me from missing you and looking back
Guess there’s just one place I haven’t gone
I’ve moved everywhere but on

If I had it my way, this ol’ highway would have fixed me up somehow
Would have led me home by now

I’ve been from Savannah to Long Beach
Trying to keep your memory out of reach
But there you were in the Delta nights
The Santa Fe sun, the Colorado sky
I could add another push pin to the map
But that don’t stop me from missing you and looking back
Guess there’s just one place I haven’t gone
I’ve moved everywhere but on
I’ve moved everywhere but on

Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.

@alisonbonaguro

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