After Blake Shelton picked up his CMA Award for single of the year, he headed backstage to bask in the glory of “God’s Country.”

And the first thing he talked about was the message of the song, written by Hardy, Devin Dawson and Jordan Schmidt.

“You know, kind of where we are right now and in our culture in this country, it is refreshing just to see a title like that,” Shelton said on Wednesday night (Nov. 13). “You don’t hear songs that sound like that anymore. It’s just one of those things that kind of has the country-boy-can-survive element to it a little bit. And so I kind of felt like it was a little bit of a throwback with a little more of a rock edge, too. Some people were starving for a song like that.

“There’s still an audience out there that starving for music like that, and radio still gives it a chance and it works for all of us.”

Shelton also took a quick trip down memory lane when he reflected on his first CMA nomination in 2003 — for the Horizon Award — and about the dues-paying he had to do to get there.

“I was way into my career before I ever got one,” he said of his first few CMA show, about ten years after he’d moved to Nashville to chase that neon rainbow. “And it’s been a pretty good drought since since I’ve won one. You know, it just shows you, I learned years ago from a guy that was pretty important in my career early on named Doug Johnson, who was one of the guys that signed me to Giant Records. And he used to always tell me that three and a half minutes can make a liar out of anybody, you know? And that still is as relevant today as it was almost 20 years ago when he signed me.

“Three and a half minutes can kind of reignite my passion and excitement for for what I do. It’s just always there in me. Sometimes I need a song like ’God’s Country’ to slap me in the face and go, ’Hey, man, you need to pay attention and get back after this.’”

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