The Story behind the Song – 4th & Goal 

4th & Goal was written by Paula Breedlove and Brad Davis, a writing partnership that began way back in 1989. 

It began life as a song for a film soundtrack, but in the process Davis changed the timing from that of a waltz to something more up-tempo, “a bluegrass beat” as Davis says. 

As is often the case, when the song was recorded, in this case by Terry Baucom & The Dukes of Drive, the musicians have a mutual sensitivity that captures the essence of the songwriters’ intentions. 

Paula Breedlove has quietly been developing a career as a lyricist since the 1980s. Her first recorded song, More Nights by Lane Brody, landed a spot in the movie Soundtrack Tough Enough, starring Dennis Quaid. She then had songs recorded by Marie Osmond and Terri Gibbs. Her career was side-tracked for several years when she lost both her parents to cancer while recovering from cancer herself. This all led to her eventually writing the song When Fear Comes Knocking with Gerald Crabb, recorded by The Gaither Vocal Band. She is also proud to have written the song The Great Divide with Tommy Shaw (from Styx) for the title track of his acoustic project.

Paula Brredlove

Perhaps her most taxing and rewarding assignment was writing 10 songs for God Didn’t Choose Sides, a Civil War-themed bluegrass album featuring an array of performers. It earned Breedlove and her co-writer, Mark Brinkman, a nomination as IBMA Songwriter of the Year in 2013. 

Grammy record performing artist Brad Davis is an American country/folk singer-songwriter and guitarist. Initially a member of country singer Marty Stuart’s road band, Davis has also performed with Earl Scruggs, Sam Bush, Billy Bob Thornton and several other country and musical acts. He has written songs for artists like Tim McGraw, Jo-El Sonnier, Tony Trischka and Thornton, Phil Ledbetter, Terry Baucom, Doyle Lawson and others…

Davis also has a solo music career of his own, with several releases, both instrumental and vocal, and he has released instructional material on guitar playing, particularly his individual style of flatpicking, with a right-hand guitar technique called the Double-Down-Up.

Brad Davis

Other songs that Breedlove and Davis have written together include Love You Don’t Know, The Other Side Of Lonely, Something Worth Waiting For, Back To Cumberland Gap, The Lost Confederate Gold, I’m a Ramblin’ Rolling Stone, Life Is A Train and Derailed. 

4th & Goal wasn’t intended to be for the bluegrass music audience as Paula Breedlove explains …

“4th & Goal was written in 2015 when my long-time friend and co-writer Brad Davis came to me with the title of the song for an indie film project, and he asked me to write an inspirational lyric with a football theme. He did already have some music in place and sent me that rough. Then I did what I love to do, and wrote the lyrics. I was looking through my old emails today and found some emails between me and Brad where a waltz beat was once considered for the melody. I had forgotten about that, and am so glad we decided against it. When I got the final demo from Brad, I knew the lyric and his awesome upbeat melody were a perfect match. Eventually, after the indie movie was never made, my husband, John, and I began pitching it [in] other places. 

I heard that Terry Baucom was getting ready to record, and sent them songs for consideration that included 4th & Goal. I later learned that they were down to selecting one last song to be a single. When they heard 4th & Goal it became the last song to be recorded for the project, and also became the title track for the CD. When I first heard the finished recording, I was amazed at what a better than perfect job they had done. It was a songwriter’s delight to hear every note and every phrase done exactly in place and absolutely perfect. 

After being # 1 twice and also #1 on the monthly charts, an old high school friend for mine, David Little, that I hadn’t seen in 50 years, contacted me about the song. We both live in the area of the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and he had some great connections there. He worked tirelessly to get them to book Terry and the Dukes to be the first bluegrass band to play on stage at the 2017 Football Hall of Fame Festival.”

Brad Davis shares this about the creative process …. 

“With every song that we work on as writers and I think it’s most important for writers to try several options when working on roughs because if you don’t try, you will simply never know what you might come up with. The waltz turned out great but for the indie film, we needed more motion and more energy. The bluegrass beat worked much better for the film, and so that’s where we stopped.”

‘Duke of Drive’ Terry Baucom was instantly impressed when he heard the song for the first time …

“Fourth and Goal was a song that we knew immediately was a good fit for the band when Paula sent it. It has a good message in the lyrics and a driving tempo that we like, too. The arrangement Brad Davis prepared for the demo made it extremely easy to go in the studio and lay down the track. We knew if we didn’t record this song, someone else would. It brought the opportunity of being the first bluegrass band to work the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. And when it finished 2017 at the top of the Bluegrass Today year-end chart, we were honored to know others liked it just as much as we did.”

Fourth and Goal
Written by Brad Davis and Paula Breedlove
Brad Davis Music BMI/Paulajon Music ASCAP

When you think all things seem hopeless
And you’re chasing dreams in vain
You can drop the ball and take yourself
Out of the game,

Stand there safely on the side lines
And just watch the world pass by
Or step onto the field of dreams
And give life one more try —


When it’s fourth and goal in overtime
And your heart and soul are on the line
You can bring it home and break that tie
When it’s fourth and goal in overtime

Those who live in fear of losing
Never have a chance to win
While every brave heart understands
In spite of where they’ve been —

Everybody has to live life
One challenge at a time
So you can choose to sit it out
Or you can choose to shine —

When it’s fourth and goal in overtime
And your heart and soul are on the line
You can bring it home and break that tie
When it’s fourth and goal in overtime


Repeat chorus

Copyright reserved.

 Recorded by Terry Baucom & The Dukes of Drive

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.