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Eli Young Band and George Birge Team Up to Pay Homage to the Massive Little Texas Hit 'Amy's Back in Austin' (Exclusive)

"It's one of those songs that you still want to pull out at the end of the night," frontman Mike Eli tells PEOPLE

Eli Young Band frontman Mike Eli was somewhere around 13 years old when he first heard the music of the iconic country band Little Texas.

“I think that math sounds about right,” Eli, 42, tells PEOPLE with a laugh in a recent interview. “Little Texas was such a big part of me growing up. There was this roots/rock thing that not a lot of bands and artists were doing at the time. I think that there was just something really special about them.”

Indeed, the legendary band, currently made up of Del Gray, Porter Howell, Dwayne O’Brien and Duane Propes, make quite the impression on the country music genre back in the day with hit songs such as “My Love” and “Some Guys Have All the Love.”

“Their songs had a huge impact on the development of the band,” says Eli of the importance of Little Texas on the country music timeline. “I think that there were a lot of [Little Texas] songs that we tried out on the stage for us, and in turn, it helped in developing our own sound.”

One of those songs that still finds its way into the consciousness of the Eli Young Band is Little Texas’ 1994 hit song “Amy’s Back in Austin.” Co-written by Brady Seals and Stephen Allen Davis, the Grammy-nominated song told the story of a couple in a rush to leave their hometown in the rearview mirror, only to find that one of them couldn’t ultimately see it through.

“It's one of those songs that you still want to pull out at the end of the night,” says Eli, a native of Denton, Texas. “We have these moments after shows where we're all hanging out in the front lounge [of the bus], and we start jamming the songs that make us feel a certain way. And I think Little Texas songs, and especially this song, brings me back to when I was 13 years old listening to them on my dad's radio. I think that that's one of the special things about music.”

Related: The Evolution of Eli Young Band Takes Them Back to the Familiar on 'Love Talking'

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty; Tammie Arroyo/Variety via Getty</p> Eli Young Band; George Birge

Kevin Mazur/Getty; Tammie Arroyo/Variety via Getty

Eli Young Band; George Birge

So when Eli and his Eli Young Band bandmates got the chance to pay homage to Little Texas with a cover of “Amy’s Back in Austin” for the upcoming tribute album God Blessed Texas, they jumped at the chance.

“’Amy’s Back in Austin’ was all over the radio when we were young,” says Eli. “It was a huge influence on all of us as music lovers."

Making the opportunity even more intriguing was the chance for Eli Young Band to collaborate on the song with rising country star and fellow Texas native George Birge, who currently finds himself on his way to the top of the charts with his current single “Mind on You.”

“We are big fans of George, and we've been friends for a long, long time,” says Eli. “So being able to do this together was kind of a neat thing. We've talked about doing stuff together for a really long time and being able to do this and be a part of something this special, it's a neat deal."

<p>Keith Brogdon</p> Amy's Back in Austin cover

Keith Brogdon

Amy's Back in Austin cover

And as Eli Young Band begins prepping their 2024 touring plans, Eli says he would love to see “Amy’s Back in Austin” on the setlist alongside the group’s massive hits such as “Crazy Girl,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Love Ain’t."

“We have rehearsals every January where we revamp the setlist,” he says of the plans of the band that also includes the talents of James Young, Jon Jones and Chris Thompson. “This would be a really fun one to do live, I know that for sure.”

Related: Eli Young Band Shares The Secret to Being a Band Long Enough to Have a Greatest Hits Album

But first, Eli Young Band needs to wrap up their 2023 touring schedule, which will conclude in Chicago on Dec. 16.

“The last show of the year always tends to be those kinds of shows where it's like, let's see what happens,” Eli says with a laugh. “Chicago is one of those places that have become a little bit of our heart and soul. We've been in Chicago through some really magical moments, whether it's through a blizzard that maybe is a headache to folks that live there, but it's special to us.”

So too is the new album that they are currently working on.

“I know that we really want to go into the recording process of this next album with a fresh take, but maybe a really organic step into where we've been over the last 23 years,” he says. “We've done some really cool and different things and dipped our toes in certain waters, but now I think that we want to go ahead and jump into those waters a little bit more heavily. It's not always about the big hits. It's really about creating special moments with the songs that musically can move you.”

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