Turning No Idea Into A Hit Idea – The Story Behind Darius Rucker’s Single “I Got Nothing”



“I’ve got nothing to write a song about today.”


I remember standing outside Darius Rucker’s tour bus saying these words over the phone to a friend. She had just asked me what I was going to write with Darius that day. Here I was outside Chicago, having flown there to meet up with the tour, and I needed to write a follow-up to my first two Darius Rucker hits, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and History in the Making.” I said, “I got nothin’, no words, no music… nada.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had an idea to write! I hung up the phone, climbed back on the bus, and got out my guitar.


Channeling the frustration and fear of traveling all that way and having ideas, I wrote my next Darius single…


“I Got Nothin,” a song about the breakup of a relationship, of wanting to stop the breakup from happening, and not having the words…

I got nothin’

No magic words to stop your leaving

To end this hurt

I’m just blank, I’m starin’ into space

Prayin’ please, please let me think of something’

But I got nothin’


Darius was the perfect person to write that song with, his voice just dripped with experience and heart.  


So, today if you feel you have nothing to write about, I hope this story will inspire you. Even when you don’t think you have something to write about, sit down and invite the muse to join you. In reality, there is always something to write about. Ideas are an ever flowing creative river. If you write your heart out and write about real life, you might just turn no idea into a hit idea.

You can check out the official video below.

Write on! ~Clay


Clay Mills is a co-founder of SongTown.com and a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter. He has 2 Grammy nominations and is the co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing. 


31 thoughts on “Turning No Idea Into A Hit Idea – The Story Behind Darius Rucker’s Single “I Got Nothing”

  1. Clay,
    Thanks! Great reminder to not give up when the hooks aren’t coming, because you never know where they will be. I’ve been running a little dry lately, but on Thanksgiving the words “Thank You” popped into my head, which at first seemed too obvious and simple. But with the angles I took, it turned into a pretty cool first draft…Thanks for all you do for us!

  2. Man, I can’t believe you just posted this. A few weeks back I got so frustrated at receiving an email from a publisher who told me “I love the song but can’t see where I could use it” that I said to myself “Damn Ave, you can can write something they do want…” and I powered off an up tempo singalong that a publisher is excited about and actually coaching me to tighten it up as we speak”. It’s interesting how frustration, rejection and pain can be my major motivators. All I have to do is stay open to all possibilities.
    Thanks Clay.

  3. Thanks Clay. Great song! Haven’t been feeling that river flowing lately, but always great reminders from you and Marty to put in the work and create, create…

  4. Thanks for this, Clay. Lovely song- exceptionally well crafted… all the pieces just fit perfectly!
    I love the way you waited so long to give us the V7 chord and the finality of that resolution.
    I absolutely love this production, as well, of course. Amazing work!

      1. You are a sneaky devil! 😆 When listening, I kept wanting to turn that into an E/G#…
        I also loved hearing that IVm chord in there!

        1. Oops… you said a II maj chord… wow! I have to admit… I don’t hear it.
          Now I’m getting worried…
          On the verse I’m hearing
          | A | E/G# | Bm | D |
          then the Pre-Ch
          | E | D | E | Bm |

          1. Okay, definitely a brain fart on my part! lol. I was thinking of another Darius tune I wrote called Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It. These songs are like a big soup swimming around in my head. 😂

  5. I was staring around my writing room wondering where to start, I remembered that I’d checked the email before going to the P.O., but there was the one from you that I hadn’t taken the time to read-so that was a good place to start. OH YES! Thanks for following up my coffee and must-do with a kick-in-the-pants song. Appreciate it…

  6. Fantastic, Clay, both the story leading up to the writing of the song and the finished product. Great heartbreak song and really true to life. Sometimes, relationships end with a whimper.

  7. I remember you telling us this story when you came to Tupelo
    for our workshop. As always, thank you for the encouragement. :))

    1. If you wake up every morning with a new song in your head you are a songwriter. I write almost everyday It starts with a melody then I add words. I often get frustrated when I get writer’s block but I continue with determination. Never Give up on yourself because one day you will hear your song played on the radio. Stay inspired writers because your time will come. Note to you and self

  8. Here’s how well written this song is: I knew from the first chorus what the pay off was going to be and as I waited for it, my anticipation built and I hung on every word. When Darius sang the last line, it was exactly what I thought it would be and still I was pleasantly surprised and felt a great deal of satisfaction. I’m also quite certain I’ll never forget the song, I’m just glad it doesn’t apply to my life now.

  9. Awesome Clay, I think that’s the way it’s supposed to work when you are living right and in your heart you know you’re doing the best you can do.

    1. Thank you for for this post I feel inspired to write with confidence. My uncle The Late George Jackson” singer, songwriter”,
      penned his first hit song for the Osmond Brothers (One Bad Apple Won’t Spoil A Whole Bunch of Girls), and he was very excited and continued writing hit after hit. (I Like That Old Time Rock and Roll ), recorded by Bob Seger, (Down Home Blues), recorded by the Late Z.Z Hill.
      My Uncle George also recorded with Tina Turner. He was an awesome song writer.
      I shared my writing talents with him and he was impressed and he recorded one of my songs. He believed in my writing abilities therefore I am not giving up on the idea of a number 1 hit song in the future. I love to write even got a couple of country songs that I know will hit the charts. . I am a songwriter and I love it.

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