Brantley Gilbert once said on The Bobby Bones Show, "I met this little girl 10 years ago. You’ll hear her in most of my songs.” He was talking about Amber Cochran, a school teacher from his hometown, and now his wife, who has inspired many of Gilbert's best (and saddest) tunes.
After years of makeups and breakups, Gilbert finally married the woman he has described as "the one who got away for about five years." Cochran and Gilbert tied the knot in June of 2015; in November of 2017, they added a son, Barrett, to their family, and in 2019, daughter Braylen joined the crew.
Even before fans knew who she was, Cochran was influencing Gilbert's music. Read on to learn more about five of the best Gilbert tracks she inspired:
"Outlaw in Me"From 'The Devil Don't Sleep' (2017)
“Outlaw in Me” is a ballad about acceptance -- specifically, about how Gilbert’s wife loves the bad boy in him. He sings, “My baby don't try to change me / She knows this is the way God made me ... She's in love with the outlaw in me."
Gilbert tells Nash Country Daily that, in general, the songs on The Devil Don’t Sleep are about “the temptations and traps I’ve always fallen into” and the ways his wife steers him away from bad decisions. “It’s about just … appreciating my marriage and that relationship that is so fulfilling to me,” he says. “It’s my life. She’s my best friend. She’s the best player on our team.”
"Picture on the Dashboard"From 'Modern Day Prodigal Son' (2009)
Even on his first album, Gilbert was writing about Cochran. The quiet, acoustic "Picture on the Dashboard" finds a heartbroken Gilbert mourning the woman who (we now know) would become his wife several years later. In the song, though, he sounds certain the relationship is done, as he sings, “All of the wrong times / All of the right things / In my right mind, I say things I don’t mean / But, baby, that’s me, and it’s way too late / Oh, but I still got your picture on the dashboard.”
"Stone Cold Sober"From 'Just as I Am' (2014)
“Stone Cold Sober” is about a life-changing drunk dial. Gilbert has said that the power ballad was inspired by a call he made to Cochran over a decade years ago. At first, he sings, “I let the whiskey talk / And, baby, it said too much;” however, the chorus closes with him admitting, “All I know is I still want you to come over / And I’m stone cold sober.”
Fortunately, this drunk dial has a happy ending, albeit years down the line. “I think everybody has drunk-dialed at one point in their life,” Gilbert tells Taste of Country. “But looking back, it’s kind of crazy when you look back ... and you’re telling somebody how much you love him and it actually ends up being true.”
"You Don't Know Her Like I Do"From 'Halfway to Heaven (Deluxe)' (2011)
Before they were engaged, Gilbert was always burying hints that he was writing and singing about Cochran. In the case of “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” Gilbert once told Taste of Country, “As you know, there’s a certain ex who I’ve written a thousand songs about.” He went on to explain that “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” was inspired by his break with this mystery ex-girlfriend; the mid-tempo, high-emotion song finds Gilbert insisting, “You don’t know her like I do / You’ll never understand / That girl’s my best friend / And there’s no way you’re gonna help me / She’s the only one who can.”
“I wasn’t over it,” he said, even at the time. “It had been a long time, and I still wasn’t over it.”
"More Than Miles"From 'Halfway to Heaven (Deluxe)' (2011)
“More Than Miles” opens with a throwback to “Picture on the Dashboard,” as Gilbert sings, “Maybe I should take her picture off the dashboard / Before her memory hits the brakes and takes the wheel.” Gilbert was initially vague about the circumstances behind the song: “I had some things going on at home. I left, and when I was on my way up here to Nashville, this stuff going on back home, I just knew I had to take care of. I changed my mind, canceled my appointment and turned around,” he told Taste of Country at the time. But later, after the pair got engaged, Gilbert admitted that he was, in fact, singing about his future wife.