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Little Big Town Host ‘The Breaker’ Release Party at Ryman Auditorium
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

I had the pleasure of interviewing Little Big Town earlier this month about their new album The Breaker, how Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams helped inspire the project and much more. On Friday, they kicked off the first-ever residency at Ryman Auditorium and brought out surprise guests Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt as well as played many of their hits and their new album in its entirety. Below is an excerpt of my review.

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Little Big Town made history on Friday night (Feb. 24) when they kicked off the first-ever Ryman Auditorium residency. Dubbed “Little Big Town at the Mother Church,” the band’s stay was initially announced for six nights and then extended to nine due to overwhelming popularity.

Each of the band’s nine shows at the Ryman will feature different support acts and surprise special guests and the residency’s start did not disappoint. Both Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton graced the stage while Brent Cobb opened the show. Throughout Little Big Town’s set, the country quartet performed their new album, The Breaker, front to back as well as threw in several older fan favorites. Meanwhile, the excitement and the honor to be the first act to play a residency at the famed venue was not lost on Little Big Town.

“Oh my goodness were at the Ryman everybody!” Kimberly Schlapman said three songs into the set. “And we’re here all year long! We are so excited about this night y’all. We worked on this record for over a year and we’re so happy. We’re going to do this two times. We’re going to play this record once tonight and tomorrow and that’ll be it the whole way down. So thank you for being here. We hope we remember the words but you won’t notice if we don’t!”

Friday was a special day for the quartet as it marked the release of their seventh studio album, The Breaker. In celebration, Little Big Town played the entirety of the record track by track kicking things off shortly before 9:30 with the upbeat Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters-penned “Happy People.” The spotlights shined brightly on all four members throughout each song as their voices echoed within the venue’s church pews and stained glass windows.

Highlights included the stunning “Free” which showcased the quartets striking harmonies, the beautifully nostalgic “We Went to the Beach” and the synth-heavy ’80s rock throwback “Drivin’ Around,” which Audra Mae was a co-writer on. Following the band’s energetic performance, Karen Fairchild called out the songwriter who was in attendance.

“Maybe you should come tomorrow night and sing it with me,” Fairchild suggested. “If you’re not from Nashville you might not know, but we have the best songwriters in the world. So many of the writers are here tonight who collaborated with us on this record. We are really blessed and fortunate that we get to live in this town and we get to create music with these people. Thank you to all the writers that are here tonight, thank you for sharing your talents with us.”

For more of my live review visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 27, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Drake White Performs for Southwest Passengers at 35,000 Feet
CATEGORIES: Features

It’s been a long journey to making a career out of my love for music and every now and then there is a moment that reminds me it’s all been worth it. One of those moments happened Monday morning (Feb. 20) when I was invited aboard a flight from Dallas to Nashville to witness Drake White surprise Southwest Airlines passengers for a performance mid-flight. Here’s my recap via Nash Country Daily.

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Passengers flying from Dallas to Nashville on Monday morning (Feb. 20) were in for a surprise when Drake White stepped up to a microphone and performed several songs for unassuming flyers.

“Sorry if y’all wanted to sleep on this flight,” Drake apologized. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Drake’s set was in partnership with Southwest Airlines and Live in the Vineyard’s Live at 35, a series where artists perform 35,000 feet in the air. It was a unique experience for both Drake and his band as well as passengers on board. While Drake has previously toured with Zac Brown Band at baseball stadiums and is now headlining his own Spark Tour, he admitted there was no way to prepare for this performance.

“We’ve played so much and so many different places,” Drake told me after his performance as the Southwest flight made its descent into Nashville. “Everything from Domino’s Pizza to Fenway Park. You just accept it. You just get on up and let your heart do the talking.”

Accompanied by his guitarist and another band member playing washboard, Drake began his set at the front of the plane with “Story” as passengers looked on, snapped photos and filmed video. He then segued into his current single, “Makin’ Me Look Good Again,” which he wrote about his wife.

For more of my interview with Drake, visit Nash Country Daily.

February 21, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Read the Kip Moore Cover Story
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews

Kip Moore is learning to take life one step at a time. The singer/songwriter has been moving full speed ahead since the release of his debut album Up All Night in 2012 with little to no time off. In late 2016, he announced he’d be taking a much needed break from the road. This doesn’t mean he’ll stop releasing new music though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as his new single “More Girls Like You” was released on Feb. 10.

Moore co-wrote the soaring power ballad with Steven Olsen, Josh Miller and David Garcia. The radio-friendly track details how he’s been “living like a wild ol’ mustang out in Montana fields” before he meets the lady of his affections. Now, he’s switching his lifestyle and thinking about settling down.

“So God made girls like you make guys like me / Wanna reach for the brightest star, set it on a ring / Put it on your hand, grab a piece of land / And raise a few / More girls like you,” he sings in the chorus.

The song came to fruition when Moore began discussing how crazy his life has become since moving from South Georgia to Nashville more than 10 years ago. Since his artist career has taken off he’s seen much of the world, and throughout his many travels he has noticed one constant theme: the joy a family brings people, no matter the ethnicity.

“Watching a man with his kids, and especially when they have a little girl, if you watch that complete sense of awe they have for that kid, I paid attention,” he tells me over the phone with a slight Southern drawl. “I’ve seen all different walks of life with that.”

While Moore admits that he has never eagerly awaited fatherhood, he is slowly becoming more open to the idea of having his own family one day.

“I’ve always felt that chapter would be fun, but I’ve just never chased after it,” he says, pausing. “For the first time in my life, from all my travels and everything that I’ve been doing, I look forward to that chapter. I think it’ll be a blast teaching my little girl how to surf, or my kid to play basketball, or whatever it is, hanging out and living that life.”

The song is a romantic one, in that it details how strongly the main character feels about his significant other.

“He thinks that she’s so incredible that hopefully when we do have kids they turn out just like you,” Moore explains. “I look forward to being so crazy about somebody that you want to have kids that turn out like them.”

“More Girls Like You” is the lead single off Moore’s upcoming project. He wrote the song four months ago and says he felt like it was a good way to start the flow of his third album. While he’s tight-lipped about the release, he revealed that he has produced most of the record by himself.

For more of my cover story on Kip Moore, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 13, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session with Emma White
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews, Songwriting Session

Emma White EP COVER

 

Songwriting Session is a column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Emma White shares what she has learned as a songwriter.

 

Emma White was born into a musical family as both her mother and grandmother were singers and songwriters. In fact, Emma was named after Emmylou Harris while her siblings are named after a James Taylor reference. So, it’s safe to say that music has been woven into her life from an early age. Over coffee at Nashville’s Portland Brew, White recalls her music filled childhood fondly.

“We would have hootenannies all the time. My family got together and played and sang,” she says with a smile. “I was into pop music at the time. My family was always singing John Prine and Patty Griffin. They exposed me to something I might not have chosen on my own but it was always a part of me.”

White loved pop and R&B music while her family preferred country. Her latest EP blends all three genres and she credits her time studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston for helping her evolve as a songwriter.

The singer/songwriter wrote her first song as a teenager and began shopping her demos around at the age of 16. She’d often perform Lauryn Hill songs at talent shows in Maryland with the dream of being a singer. However, it wasn’t until she heard a Clive Davis interview where he stressed the importance of being able to write songs that she realized she should focus more on songwriting.

After living in Boston and New York, White made her way to Nashville although she admits she never thought she’d wind up in Music City.

“I was a New York girl, but every opportunity and every door that ever opened ended up being down here,” she says.

The first song she released professionally was called “His Eyes” and she first thought it was an R&B track. People advised her to submit it to a local Maryland radio station where it won an undiscovered talent contest with their country station. Suddenly, she realized she was actually writing country music.

White’s latest EP released on Friday (Feb. 3), merges her passions for songwriting, country, pop and hip-hop. While the songs include classic country songwriting the production hints at pop and R&B. This is exemplified in the standout song “My Ex,” co-written with Jesse Lee (Kelsea Ballerini’s “Peter Pan”).

“We kept that storytelling aspect of it, and then when I worked with my producers we really wanted it to be a hybrid of R&B and country,” she says of the song “My Ex.”

White’s new single “Not That Into You” is more pop based and sounds like a song that would fit in perfectly on radio in between Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. She says it’s her favorite song she’s ever written and was inspired after a trip to LA. While attending an industry event a man there was making strong advances towards her. Taken aback, White turned the off-putting experience into a song that embodies a humorous portrayal of a girl pushing a guy away.

“I had seen the movie He’s Just Not That Into You and on my Facebook there are always ads: ‘Why are you single? This is why. Buy my guide.’ I thought in a theatrical way about [writing] it. I wanted to take on a gutsier character,” she explains. “I wanted it to be something a little bit shocking that you might not hear a female say. While I was writing it I sent it to my best friend who lives in New York. She had been on a million Tinder and Bumble dates and she was like, ‘I love this song. I totally get it.’ She wrote, ‘I’m not playing games or hard to get.’ So, I put it in the song and she’s the co-writer on this song.”

White’s new EP includes seven songs, all of which she co-produced, and spans several genres. She says this was intentional as she wanted each song to stand firmly on its own.

“For this album, I wanted to make every song stand on its own sonically. It definitely has an overall pop/country feel,” she shares. “Some songs lean more pop/rock and others have an urban thing going on. I really wanted to create a fingerprint for each song. There are certain melodies you’ll hear in certain songs and different textures in each song. It’s a blend of a lot of things.”

It has been a long musical journey for White, who now lives in Nashville full-time. She says if she could have told herself anything before taking the leap into music it would be to buckle up because there are a lot of highs and lows. She adds that having patience is important and stresses at being open to collaboration.

“I think co-writing has really expanded my sound and songwriting,” she admits. “You always learn from other people in the room. We can do so much more when we’re working together.”

She adds that she’s constantly trying to find a balance between success as a songwriter and simply doing it because she loves to write.

“You never want to have to compromise certain things. I think the biggest thing is staying true to what you think is good,” she says. “Being a songwriter is often a struggle but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Performing, singing and music is woven into who I am. It’s always felt like it’s what I was meant to do. It chose me, I didn’t choose it.”

For more on Emma White visit her website and to purchase her music, click here. Catch Emma live in Nashville on Monday evening (Feb. 6) for Whiskey Jam at Winners Bar & Grill.

February 5, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Trace Adkins Discusses New Album ‘Something’s Going On’
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews

I’ve been lucky to have been able to chat with some of country music’s most respected artists over the years. Earlier this week, I sat down for an interview with Trace Adkins who gave me an early preview of his upcoming 12th studio album Something’s Going On, which is due for release on March 31. It was a full circle moment for me as five years ago I ran into him on the street in New York City, before I ever dreamed of moving to Nashville. Below is an excerpt of that interview:

Something’s Going On boasts songs written by Tyler Farr, Craig Campbell, Old Dominion’s Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally, among others. One of the tracks, “Whippoorwills and Freight Trains,” written by Phil O’Donnell, Jeff Middleton and Brandon Kinney, is a song Trace cites as the most honest on the album.

“It’s just a lonely . . . ,” he admits with a pause. “The last few years have been personally pretty difficult and I think ‘Whippoorwills and Freight Trains’ really speaks to where my emotions and everything have been for the last few years.”

It’s also a song that Trace confesses was difficult to sing while in the studio, along with another track called “If Only You Were Lonely,” which was written by Jon Coleman and Troy Johnson.

“I really remember recording [“If Only You Were Lonely”],” Trace says. “The day I was in the studio singing that one, something happened in the booth and I had to stop for a while. I couldn’t maintain my composure, it tore me up. It hurts when it happens but then you go, ‘Wow. Thank you, God, for moving me like that when I was singing a song.’”

The centerpiece of Something’s Going On is the album’s first single, “Watered Down.” Written by Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen and Matt Jenkins, it’s a song that Trace says summarizes his current state of mind.

“Lyrically, from the very first line it really encapsulates and summarizes where I find myself, it seems, at this point in my life. I’ve mellowed out a little bit hopefully and calmed down a little bit, trying to stay out of the news,” he says with a laugh. “Everything about the song just fit exactly where I seem to be in my life right now.”

For more of my interview with Trace, visit Nash Country Daily.

February 4, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Kip Moore Gets By with a Little Help From His Fans
CATEGORIES: Features

kip-2

I’ve been a Kip Moore fan for years. I can’t remember exactly what song or video first hooked me, but there was something inherently different about him from the other country artists I had been listening to. He is one of the most honest artists I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and our chats over the past two years remain some of my favorites.

The more I interview Kip, the more I notice his fan base. They are unlike any fans I have ever come in contact with over the years and by far the most rabid. Any time I mention I’m interviewing him on Twitter, I have several RTs and numerous questions from his fans within seconds.

It’s more than that, though. They have made some of my interviews with him into photo essays and are the first to reach out and compliment me on my chats with him. They’re a supportive group that I have watched in awe over the past two years and decided that there is definitely a story here. So, I pitched the idea to Nash Country Weekly and they loved the idea. I interviewed several of Kip’s co-writers and fans, but unfortunately the fan portion didn’t make it into the published piece so I wanted to share it on You Sing I Write since they are the ones that inspired this article. You can read my complete article in Nash Country Weekly. Below is an interview with some of Kip’s biggest fans and fan sites.

“Passionate. Rabid. Loyal. Stubborn like I am. Gritty. Blue-collar.”

These are the adjectives that Kip Moore uses to describe his fans. When I ask Dan Couch, Erik Dylan and Westin Davis — three of his frequent co-writers — and four fans — Kristen Diotte, Kristin Hamlin, Linda Alberts and Twinkle Zaman — to describe him, the depiction is the same with ‘authentic’ thrown in several times.

Since releasing his debut album Up All Night in 2012, Moore has seen much radio success with “Somethin’ Bout a Truck,” “Beer Money” and “Hey Pretty Girl.” As he geared up to release his sophomore album Wild Ones however, the radio hits didn’t come as easily but that didn’t deter his fans. In fact, he says his fan base doubled in the past year without having a hit song in steady rotation.

That fan base is building as quickly online as it is the concert setting. Kristin Hamlin, the woman behind Twitter fan page Kip & the Slowhearts has steadily built a community of over 130,000 Kip Moore fans. She says she decided to start the page two years ago to showcase his character. In doing so, she’s met two of her best friends at Kip’s concerts and is constantly interacting with fans who travel out of state to see the singer live.

“They’re so loyal to him. I see so many people travel to Timbuktu for his show numerous times a year,” she says. “The people going with me to his Chicago show, it’s probably their 30th show and their 25th out of state show.”

As with any artist with celebrity status, there are some downsides to fame.

“What Kip does, he’s just got this thing where he makes people feel like they know him. He’s admitted that it’s one of his biggest Achilles’ heels. Fans get the wrong idea sometimes. He gets the crazies,” she explains as a recent Dr. Phil episode demonstrated.

“I think that’s why his fans are so loyal to him. He makes them feel like they’re a friend. He pays attention to them and you don’t hear that every day from celebrities.”

Part of the reason fans feel like they know Kip is because he makes an effort to sign autographs after nearly every concert, something he confesses he might not be able to do for much longer. But it’s this dedication that has the fans coming back for more, including Kristen Diotte from Ontario, Canada, who frequently travels to the States to see Kip.

“I actually left Lady A’s encore early to find the spot where he would be signing and there was already a line waiting for him and that line damn well went for probably two hours,” Kristen recalls of her first Kip Moore concert experience. “I’ve never met another artist with that commitment.”

Singer-songwriter Erik Dylan has a cut on Kip’s latest record called “Comeback Kid” and says the fact that he converses with, takes photos and signs autographs for fans makes that fan a lifer.

 

“The hour-and-a-half you’re onstage is very, very important but the time you spend after the show and before the show making sure people know that we respect them as fans too is very important,” Erik explains. “I see a lot of Kip fans who go to three and four shows in a row. You don’t see that in country music often. You see that in rock music and a lot of that too is because Kip’s show is a band that’s been together. The fans see those familiar faces every time. They’re not just hired players, they’re his guys. They’ve been through thick and thin.”

Linda Alberts, who runs the KipDiehardFans Twitter account and Facebook group says the reason he has so many dedicated followers is the way he connects with his audience.

“When an artist can keep and gain fans it is a testament to who they are as a person,” she says. “If your music is good and it touches people, it doesn’t matter where it lands on the charts. It just matters that it’s good and your fans know it. Kip never gave up and we knew he was fighting for his music, so we never gave up on him.”

While Kip’s sophomore album Wild Ones was delayed, he admits he was in a dark place and had “every single fear that you could possibly imagine.” During that time, it was his fans that kept him going.

“You doubt what you’re doing because people are telling you it’s too left field. And people are telling you it’s not enough alike the first record and the first record was so successful and you’re gonna lose your fans and they’re not going to play this on the radio,” he explains. “To see the fans coming out in droves like they are and singing every single song from top to bottom, it validates everything for me for sticking to my guns. It was a hard fight.”

Kip writes every single song on his albums and this is a major reason why fans gravitate to him, because they know each lyric he sings is his truth and comes from the heart.

“He does it in a way where as you’re listening to his music you’re picturing exactly what he is saying and it just makes sense,” Twinkle Zaman, who runs Twitter fan site Bad Girls Want Moore explains. “It paints the perfect picture.”

And with that, he leaves his greatest mark on his fans. Kip’s songs are affecting their lives, some who say they depend on his music to get through each day. It’s a compliment he takes very seriously.

“It’s made me realize that there’s a lot more at stake now,” he says. “It’s made me realize I have a voice now. It’s also made me feel more responsibility in my writing.”

For my original article on Kip’s fan base, visit Nash Country Weekly.

January 1, 2016 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session with Leigh Nash
CATEGORIES: Features, Songwriting Session

Leigh Nash

(Credit: Alysse Gafkjen)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Leigh Nash shares what she has learned as a songwriter.

 

After spending over a decade with Sixpence None the Richer and years honing her sound as a solo artist, Leigh Nash released her debut country album The State I’m In last month. On the 12-track release, Leigh co-wrote each song and says writing was a pretty big leap as it was often difficult for her.

“I love to write but the issue for me is having the confidence in yourself,” she admits, speaking softly as we sit at Nashville’s Headquarters Coffee on album release day.

Throughout the writing process, Leigh would often question if she was capable of writing material that people would want to hear. Having grown up listening to Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves, she wanted to keep their melodies and style of music alive within her album.

“The way they wrote songs, I really love it and that was my school as far as songwriting goes, by listening to those old classic songs,” she adds.

So how did she get over her lack of confidence with songwriting?

“Just by doing it,” she explains. “I’ll get my guitar out and come up with something I feel like is a strong story and a good solid melody and I want to finish it.”

Leigh looked to friend and songwriter Jesse Hall to help her craft some of the songs on her new album. He’s someone she says is like a brother to her. When she played him her ideas and he wasn’t bored and didn’t shy away from the project, she knew she had a partner in the project.

“He helped me make it exactly what I dreamed of in my head. Him loving it gave me confidence,” she adds. “As you go and more people hear it, it drew more out of me. It fed off of itself. Now I have immense confidence in my writing abilities. It took exercising the muscles enough.”

Some of the more vulnerable moments on the album come in the form of songs Leigh wrote with her husband, musician Steven Wilson, including “Tell Me Now Tennessee” and “High Is Better.” She stresses that vulnerability is the key to everything in life, especially in songwriting.

“If you can be vulnerable, I think a lot of good things will come to you,” she adds. “That’s when we’re the softest and our ears are the most open.”

 

 

While Leigh admits to having had some arguments with her husband during the writing process, ultimately the songs that made the album were written together from true life, relationship struggles and things she had said to her mom on the phone.

“We both have to be in the right mood,” she says of writing with her husband. “I think it’s hard to write with your spouse because they’re the ones that get your worst. I would never say to a friend, ‘I don’t like that chord.’ I get real cutting. If we’re in a good space we work off that. I love writing with him. Subject-wise, we do a good job. It helps when we’re writing something we’re both excited about.”

Leigh Nash’s album The State I’m In is out now. Read more of my interview with her on Taste of Country.

October 4, 2015 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session: Country Edition
CATEGORIES: Features, Songwriting Session

Dierks Bentley

(Dierks Bentley/Courtesy: The Green Room)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, country artists Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves and Charlie Worsham share what they have learned as songwriters.

 

Charlie Worsham admits that songwriting is “just a switch you can’t turn off.” He is quick to explain that it’s something that never leaves him.

“I’m always jotting something down on an airplane,” he says. “It’s this thing that keeps you up at night. It wakes you up in the middle of the night, it gets you up early. You just can’t shut it off. You can’t ever put the pen down. It’s constantly gnawing at you in an excruciatingly beautiful way.”

Stuck on a chorus or song idea? Charlie suggests stating a universal truth.

“Some of the best advice I ever got on chorus writing was listen to the Beatles and Tom Petty,” he admits. “If you listen to their choruses, ‘And I’m free. Free fallin.’ ‘All you need is love.’ If it’s a really powerful truth sometimes all you need to do is say it and then repeat it two more times.”

Most of the artists I’ve spoken with in the past have said the best songs often come from something he or she has experienced firsthand, Kacey Musgraves being no exception.

“The best songs for me come from things that I have actually experienced or have some kind of insight on,” she says. “It all has to resonate somewhere within me. It can’t be completely fabricated. It always starts from me and that’s my favorite kind of music. You can tell it’s truthful.”

 

 

So you want to be a songwriter? The most important advice Dierks Bentley has for an aspiring songwriter is to write every day.

“One guy said to me, ‘You know what? You need to write about 500 songs, and just put them all in a drawer. When you get done doing that, call me up and I’ll write with you,’” he recalls. “I thought he was being a dick, but basically what he was saying was—you can’t be precious with your songs—you just got to write ’em and file ’em.”

He continues: “You want to be a songwriter? Write every day. 500 songs is a lot, but I got what he was saying. Don’t type them up on a nice sheet of paper and put ’em in a three ring binder. Just write ’em up, then go on to the next one. Keep writing.”

For more tips from country songwriters, visit my article on Radio.com.

September 27, 2015 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session: Americana Edition
CATEGORIES: Features, Songwriting Session

Don Henley

(Credit: Danny Clinch)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, several artists showcased at the Americana Music Festival share what they have learned as songwriters.

 

This week, Americana music fans and artists flocked to Nashville for the Americana Music Festival and Conference. Six days of industry panels and artist showcases ensued, many of which the topic of songwriting was addressed. Below are some highlights from Don Henley, the founding member of the Eagles, songwriter Mary Gauthier (Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw), Patty Griffin and Whitehorse.

During his Keynote interview, Don Henley discussed co-writing with his friend and frequent collaborator Stan Lynch, who he met in the late 80s.

“When I write songs, part of it is just hanging out. When you write songs with somebody you have to develop a closeness and a musical understanding. We just have to hang out and laugh.”

Later, he said that it often helps him to imagine an artist singing a song he is writing to help with the writing process. Another thing he does before working on a new album: read.

“When I was doing Cass County I went back and read Thomas Wolfe’s book You Can’t Go Home Again and I found a lot of familiarity and wisdom in that book,” he said before he began to quote Henry David Thoreau.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

“That’s why I maintain a little farm in my hometown so I can go back to the land to the country when I need to get out of the city,” he explained. “It’s really good for songwriting and for thinking. When I get on those two lane blacktop highways and I get out of the urban environment my mind opens up and I can think and I can dream. To be successful in the music business I had to leave my hometown. But oddly enough I find myself going back there to write.”

While Don Henley goes back to his hometown to write, Mary Gauthier relies on her emotions to see if a song is done.

“If I don’t give myself the chills, if I don’t cry when I write, then I’m not there yet,” she said. “Songs are the great human connectors of our time. Songs are how people connect with each other. A song is the vehical of the heart.”

As difficult as writing songs might be, Patty Griffin said it’s most important to write from the heart.

“When you get to a more honest place with your heart, it may hurt but it feels better. When there’s a deep hurt in your soul, write it down and let it go.”

Meanwhile, Luke Doucet of Canadian duo Whitehorse said he doesn’t always write from personal experience. Instead, he tries to embellish within his songs.

“I ran out of pages from my diary I could exploit,” he joked. “You have to decide how to embellish things. The truth is overrated. There’s different ways to be honest. You’re allowed to embellish things. Anybody can be a memoir writer, it takes a creative writer to write a novel. Think outside the parameters put on yourself.”

September 20, 2015 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session with Lady Antebellum
CATEGORIES: Features, Songwriting Session

lady antebellum

(Credit: Joseph Llanes)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Lady Antebellum share what they have learned as songwriters.

 

As you may have already guessed, I am fascinated by the craft of songwriting. So, when I sat down with Lady Antebellum last October to discuss their latest album 747, I asked them to share some tips for aspiring songwriters. They gave some helpful advice which you can read below and watch a clip of as well. If you’re looking for more suggestions on how to write a song, read the Top 10 tips I’ve compiled from country songwriters on Radio.com.

“There’s no right or wrong way to write a song,” Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley advises. “We’ve written many different ways. We usually start with the melody first and then it always evokes some kind of feeling, whether it’s a somber melody or a fun, exciting one. It always finds its way. Some people come in with lyric ideas or even a poem.”

He stresses that the key to being a great songwriter is to “write and write and write.”

“The more you write, the better you get,” he adds. “You’re going to write 100 bad songs before you write one good one and that is the truth.”

Bandmate Hillary Scott couldn’t agree more.

“The more consistently you do it, the better you get. You can always grow and improve,” she says.

 

 

Charles says as with anything, there are little tricks to songwriting the more frequently you do it. Like writing a novel or essay, there is an intro, body and conclusion to a song.

“Your bridge is something that needs to sum up and reinforce the tag of the song,” he explains. “If the tag of the song is need you now — well then you get this bridge, what are you trying to say there that when the listener hears it’s one of the last thoughts? It’s ‘I guess I’d raher hurt than feel nothing at all.’ That’s why they’re feeling all of this.”

Hillary adds that the bridge is the writer’s “bring it on home moment.”

“It’s the all-encompassing one or two lines that really describe the rest of the song, the rest of the lyric,” she says.

So what does a songwriting session with Lady Antebellum sound like?

“We love great melodies and a lot of times we start there, whether it’s an idea that’s born on a piano or guitar or some other instrument,” Dave Haywood says. “If you were to walk in on the beginning of a writing session with us, there’d be a lot of humming. Everyone’s humming these big melodies trying to find something we love and gravitate towards. And then for us, a lot of times we jump in, ‘What about this story? What are you going through? What can we write about today?'”

Meanwhile, Hillary stresses the importance of being aware of what’s around you as a writer.

“You have to keep your heart open and your ears and eyes open. The best songwriters are those that allow themselves to be vulnerable,” she confesses. “When people really feel what you’re singing about is when you allow yourself to be vulnerable going into the room. Don’t be afraid because we all feel alike. We all feel the same emotions. The listener knows when you’re being authentic.”

 

September 13, 2015 | | (0) comment comment
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