Categories
Articles

Songwriting Session with Josh Osborne

Credit: Rachel Deeb

Josh Osborne was drawn to music from a young age. Growing up in Virgie, KY, his home was filled with the music of Phil Collins, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Keith Whitley, Alabama and Randy Travis. He vividly recalls asking for a subscription to Billboard one year for Christmas and studied every name within the magazine’s pages. He soon learned the names of the songwriters, the producers and the people making the music he loved. At eight, Osborne began taking guitar lessons and by the time he was 12 his father encouraged him to start writing songs.

“My dad was a child of the ’60s, so he loved the Beatles and turned me onto the Beatles’ music,” Osborne tells me over the phone. “He said, ‘These guys were the greatest band of all time and they wrote all their songs. Maybe you should try writing songs.’ He bought me a Beatles tape set of all the Beatles’ hits. I got obsessed with it and was so drawn to how the words flow together and how the melody fits the words and how happy the music sounded. Even as a little kid I just wanted to write songs.”

That same year Osborne wrote his first song titled “The Shelter of Your Love.” He laughs as he remembers some of the lyrics. “I thought it was very poetic sounding for 12-year-old me,” he recalls. “The thing I remember about it now from an embarrassment point of view as a songwriter is I that I rhymed dove with love, which is very obvious.”

The more he listened to the Beatles, the more Osborne fell in love with the craft of songwriting. Country voices like Randy Travis and Keith Whitley left the biggest impact on him, and soon he fused his passion for songwriting with country music.

Osborne’s father noticed this passion and researched the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). He discovered there was a local chapter that met in Kingsport, TN, so he took his son when he was 13 and they listened to others talk about how they wrote songs and took part in song critiques. The following year they learned about a NSAI seminar in Nashville and attended. It was here that Osborne met veteran songwriter Terry Vonderheide. After Osborne performed a song, Vonderheide approached him and said he had potential. He then offered to write with Osborne the next time he returned to Nashville.

Pretty soon Osborne and his parents, both schoolteachers, would make monthly trips to Nashville. When school finished Friday afternoon they’d drive to Music City where Osborne began booking gigs Friday and Saturday evenings. On Saturday mornings he’d have a standing writing session with Vonderheide. The monthly trips turned into two and three weekends a month and one night while performing at Caffe Milano in downtown Nashville someone in the crowd recognized Osborne’s talent. Jerry Smith from Warner Chappell Music was looking for a young, up-and-coming songwriter. When Smith approached BMI’s David Preston asking if he had any recommendations, the executive suggested Osborne. Realizing he had just saw Osborne live, the pair met, and Smith offered him his first publishing deal.

“That was a lot of luck on my part and just good timing,” Osborne says. “For me first coming to Nashville when I was 14, it was about four years of coming back and forth before I landed a situation to where I could work here full-time.”

Osborne signed his publishing deal at the age of 18 and relocated to Nashville two days after he graduated high school in 1998. “I moved here and never looked back,” he says.

While he admits it was fairly easy to get a publishing deal in the ’90s, it took Osborne over a decade and several other publishing deals before he garnered his first major label cut with Chris Young’s “Neon.” The title track of Young’s third album, “Neon” peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2012. That same year he had his first No. 1 song with Kenny Chesney’s “Come Over.” Osborne penned “Come Over” with Shane McAnally, who he first met and began writing with in 2009 before becoming a partner and writer with his publishing company SMACKSongs in 2015, and a then-newcomer, Sam Hunt.

“That song was so experimental for its time. Sam has always been creative, inventive. He likes to take risks, likes to try things that are different,” Osborne says. “He came in and had that melody for the chorus but didn’t really have a hook. He was like, ‘Man, I wish we had something that lifted into this great chorus, but the verses were a little more not spoken, but more subdued and down.’ So, we started messing with it and we stumbled into the idea of the song being called ‘Come Over.’

“Originally the chorus ended with just the line come over. When we were putting the work tape down on that song at the very end of the work tape, as we’re doing the outro, Sam goes, ‘Come over, come over, come over, come over, come over,’” he recalls. “I stopped playing and I said, ‘What’s that?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, I just thought that’d be something cool to do for the tag. If you think it’s distracting, I won’t do it.’ Shane and I looked at each other and we were like, ‘No! That’s the hook. That should happen every time. The urgency of that should happen every time.’”

For more of my interview with Josh Osborne, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

Categories
Features

You Sing I Write July/August Wrap Up

leekundgo_zps941aa6b3

It’s hard to believe nearly six years ago I started this blog with the hope of creating a writing outlet for myself. Six years later, I’ve gone on to find a full-time job doing what I love — writing about music — and freelancing for several publications I’ve always dreamed of working at. This summer once again proved to me that if you’re persistent and work hard anything can happen. Case in point: interviewing the Backstreet Boys.

While I’m well aware that it’s 2013 and the “it” boy bands are One Direction and The Wanted, the Backstreet Boys will forever hold a special place in my heart. Growing up I was obsessed with them. Like, I honestly thought I would marry a BSB. (Brian Littrell if you were wondering). Upon being home in Jersey for Labor Day, some friends and I revisited our middle school and high school yearbooks and the one inscription that pretty much sums up my middle school days was written by a boy in my 8th grade class: “I’ll see ya next year and then maybe you will stop lovin BSB so much.”

Of course, this never happened because in my senior yearbook my mom sent in photos of me with an extremely clever note. She managed to use all the Backstreet Boys song titles to wish me luck in college. Aptly ending the note, “Drowning In Your Love, Mom, Dad and Katherine.”

So knowing all this, imagine my excitement when learning I would be interviewing a Backstreet Boy for work! Last month, the Backstreet Boys were part of CBS Radio’s Impact campaign where we highlight a band’s upcoming album during release week. Since I was writing the post, I’d be doing a phoner with one of the guys. I found out on a Friday night that the interview would be happening sometime Saturday and I could barely sleep. The next day I’d be chatting with one of the guys on the phone and could ask them whatever questions I wanted. My 13-year-old self was ecstatic. Due to the guys busy schedule traveling abroad the interview didn’t happen until Monday. Literally five minutes before they were supposed to call me I learned I’d be talking with Nick Carter. My palms were sweaty and I had butterflies in my stomach. I could not have dreamed this up in middle school.

 

 

Nick was beyond nice and answered all my burning questions (his favorite choreographed dance move was “Everybody  (Backstreet’s Back)” just in case you were wondering…). What really surprised me was how open he was. When I asked him how his fiance and the guys’ wives take their avid female fan base he was very frank. “My fiancé actually gets the brunt of it. There are girls out there that send her death threats and tell her they want to kill her and write her name on Twitter and draw pictures of her. We deal with that on a daily basis.”

When I asked how he deals with the death threats he said he just tries to ignore it as best he can.

“If you live your life in fear then they win. For the most part it’s just haters. I think fans don’t like it because I’m the youngest one, I’m not married yet. I’m engaged but I think they feel like I belong to them in some ways. It’s tough. It’s a tough place to be in.”

In the end, I learned that maybe it’s not the best thing in the world to marry a Backstreet Boy. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to deal with death threats on a daily basis. So, at 28-years-old my goals have changed. No longer do I want to marry a Backstreet Boy. Instead, I want to learn how to write a song. I’ll let you know how that goes in September’s recap.

Categories
Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Feels Good At First”

Train car

Last week, I interviewed Train frontman Pat Monahan. While we chatted a lot about songwriting and country music, he also touched upon the influence love has in his music. In fact, he admitted that most of the songs he writes are about love. “That’s all music is. That’s all movies are. That’s all anything is. When you look at all things in this world, everything is about love,” he told me.

One of my favorite tracks on their last album California 37 is a stripped down song called “Feels Good At First” which details the start of a relationship, when everything is going well. When I told him this, he confessed that it’s one of his songs that he really hopes to hear on the radio. Read a snippet of my interview below and for the rest visit Radio.com.

How did “Feels Good At First” come together?

I wrote that song with Allen Shamblin outside Nashville, Tennessee. Somehow Allen inspired that vibe in me. It’s a definite truth, that song. I sent it to my manager in New York and he was like, “How did you think of this? Actually, the better question is, how is this the first time anyone has thought of this?” He said, “It’s so simple. It’s so true. Love feels so good at first and then it starts to get funny and complex.” I don’t know why that song got written but it’s definitely a real place inside of me.

Is there any chance you’ll release “Feels Good At First” as a single?

That would be amazing. If you said to me, “Hey, is there a dream song?” That would be it. My manager is so a believer in that song that he had us do a video for it to put it out on YouTube and get wheels rolling. When we do that song in Europe I don’t even have to sing it, they sing every word. That’s my dream-come-true song if we can get that on the radio somehow.

 

 

Categories
Q&A

Lady Antebellum Talk Dating, Drunk Dialing and Dylan

To say 2010 is Lady Antebellum’s year would be an understatement. The trio kicked things off in January with the release of their sophomore album, Need You Now, and a Grammy win for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group under their belt. The nominations continued, as the band has five nods at both the CMA Awards and American Music Awards next month — tying them with the number of nods Eminem received for the latter awards show.

I chatted with Lady A’s Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley at their recent benefit performance in New York about success, songwriting (they’ve already begun penning a follow up to Need You Now) and why you should put that phone down at “a quarter after one.”

What is your songwriting process like?

Dave: If anything, it’s really musical. We start a lot with melodies and instrumentation and trying to figure out good melodies for verses and choruses. We get to lyrics sometimes second, so we’ll start humming a melody, finding something, and see where the music takes you as far as lyrics are and what you want to say and go from there. We love great melodies and great songs that have great hooks and melodies, so we start a little bit more on that side as opposed to other people that start more lyric-based. Sometimes we’ll do it the other way.

For my complete interview with Lady Antebellum, visit The Boot.

Related Links:
Sara Evans, ‘A Little Bit Stronger’ — Story Behind the Lyrics
Lady Antebellum, Amos Lee Dazzle for Musicians On Call
Q&A; with Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum Bring Nashville to New York at Sold-Out Show
Categories
Concert Reviews Q&A

Lady Antebellum, Amos Lee Dazzle for Musicians On Call


Lady Antebellum Fan Club Party
2009 CMA Music Festival
Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Lady Antebellum filled fans in on the meaning behind their hits Wednesday night during the sixth annual benefit concert for Musicians On Call at New York’s City Winery. Having volunteered at St. Jude’s in Nashville, Lady A’s Hillary Scott explained how much the non-profit, which brings live music to the bedsides of patients at hospitals, means to the band.

“We’re very excited about helping the cause and raising money,” Hillary tells The Boot. “Music is so healing. Whether you’re in a hospital bed or you’re driving down the road just broken up with your boyfriend, it has such a healing power. What better way than to go into hospitals and equip musicians to sing for these patients who are just looking for a smile?”

Though Lady A have yet to perform at hospitals for Musicians On Call, with a chapter in Nashville, band members Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood say it’s a cause they plan to get involved with. “We’re not curing diseases or anything, but to be able to put a smile on somebody’s face during a tough time can always be a cure as well,” Dave says.

For my complete review of last night’s show, visit The Boot. Stay tuned for my exclusive interviews with Lady Antebellum and Amos Lee in the coming weeks!

Categories
Interviews

Pat Benatar

Earlier this week, I interviewed the infamous Pat Benatar. Thanks for all your questions, I was able to squeeze most of them in! We chatted about life, work and dating — including whether she still believes love is a battlefield. A true inspiration, Benatar gave me advice about living out your dreams and things she wish she knew in her 20s. You can read an excerpt below and for the complete interview visit Lemondrop.

You talk a lot about trusting your gut. You write, in your memoir, “Rock and roll is really about following your passion with no apologies. Following that sound in your head that only you can hear.” What’s your advice to 20-somethings trying to find that passion and pursue their dreams?

You have to be smart, of course. You can’t just go running off to Kuala Lumpur throwing everything away. You don’t want to wreck your life in the pursuit of your dream. I have two girls — my youngest is 16 and my oldest is 25. I’m right in the thick of this with them. They struggle, they’re afraid to take a chance, of what people think. You’ve got to give it up. You have to stop worrying about this. You have to sit down and really examine what it is in your heart that you really want, what makes you happy. And don’t hurt anyone else in the process. Don’t trample others to have the dream that you want.

I think everyone should go for what they really, really love. You may only get to do this one time. Don’t be worried. Don’t think that you can’t have most of it. I’m of the belief that you cannot have it all. You can try. I think that you always have to make a sacrifice somewhere. I grew up during the women’s movement, and they told us we can have everything. It was a lie. You definitely cannot have everything, not 100 percent. You can have it all, but some part of it at different times in your life will have to take a backseat. If you choose to raise your children, your career will take a backseat for a little while. If you choose to pursue your career at a stronger pace, your kids will take a backseat. It’s just the ebb and flow of how life is. Don’t make yourself crazy thinking you have to be a superwoman. It’s not even possible. Think about what you want personally. Don’t let other things, don’t let the media, don’t let anybody tell you what you’re supposed to be, because only you know.

For more on Pat Benatar, visit her MySpace to hear some of her timeless classics.

Categories
News Q&A

I’m Interviewing Pat Benatar Tomorrow!

Earlier this summer I filled you in on Pat Benatar’s memoir, “Between a Heart and a Rock Place.” A compelling read, Benatar is completely honest about what it was like dealing with record label, Chrysalis, and the obstacles she faced as a female artist throughout her career. Having paved the road for numerous female acts today, it is uncertain where women would be without Benatar’s contributions.

“Rock and roll is really about following your passion with no apologies. Following that sound in your head that only you can hear,” says Benatar.

Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Pat Benatar for Lemondrop. What have you always wanted to know? Be sure to send me your questions and I’ll try to get them all in during our interview!

Related Links:
You Sing I Write’s Summer Reading Playlist
Pat Benatar Reveals Her Struggles and Successes In Memoir
Song of the Week: “Love Is a Battlefield”
Contest of the Week: Win a Copy of Pat Benatar’s Memoir

Categories
Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Graham Colton

I chatted with Graham Colton  back in April after his show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. He filled me in on his songwriting process, upcoming release and what it’s like touring with his musical heroes. You can watch the video below and read the complete interview on Hoboken Patch here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR3TomRuWA4]

Video Credit: Wendy Hu

Categories
Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Colbie Caillat

I sat down with Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat a few months ago before her performance for VH1 Save the Music. She filled me in on co-writing, dealing with stage fright and her two Grammy wins. For the complete article, visit Hoboken Patch.

Watch the video below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MHl1HDTe3s]

Video credit: Wendy Hu

Categories
Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Orianthi

One of my favorite interviews to date, I met up with Orianthi when she was in town last December promoting her debut album, Believe. Having shared the stage with Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana and Steve Vai and with the goal to inspire more girls to pick up the electric guitar, Orianthi is a stand out role model. While she began playing guitar at the age of six, she said being a female guitarist wasn’t always easy.

“Guitar is a guy’s thing. I’d get picked on a lot and school wasn’t exactly the easiest time,” Orianthi said. “Actually, my teacher told me I should play the harp, it’s more feminine. It’s kind of like being a male ballerina in a way … I loved playing guitar so much that I stuck at it. I just want to inspire more girls to pick it up and stick at it and believe in themselves with whatever they do. You just have to follow down your path.”

Watch my video interview with Orianthi below to learn more about her passion for guitar, what it was like to perform with Santana and her experience working with Michael Jackson. To read the complete transcription click here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVupYVVT3g]

Video credit: Wendy Hu