If you were to write an intro for your album From the Beatles to the Bluebird before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about it?
The Beatles’ performance on February 9, 1964, on Ed Sullivan forever changed the world. They brought back joy to a nation stunned & depressed by Kennedy’s death. The impact of that show still resonates across the universe in how it changed music, fashion, politics & religion This is to remind folks who were there and future generations who may not realize the full impact of what the Beatles did.
6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
From Lexington, KY. Played rhythm guitar and sang in various local bands. Favorite venue to play in your hometown?
My favorite venue was a little club called the Brewery. It was a singer/songwriter venue long before there were many venues like that.
Hit songwriter. Writing “If Tomorrow Never Comes” with the then unknown Garth Brooks in 1987. The song became Garth’s first number one. You shared that The Byrds, Rodney Crowell and Joe Ely have influenced your career. How have these artists influenced you?
The Byrds were the first group to really utilize the electric 12 string guitar & that sound motivated me to pick up guitar. Rodney Crowell and Joe Ely both released their first albums in the late 70s and the sound of those two records was what I was hearing in my head. Their influence on me as a songwriter still shapes what I do, and those two guys gave me the courage to move to Nashville.
Nashville Hall of Fame member inducted during the Golden Anniversary. Garth Brooks presented you when you were inducted. Together you sang his first hit song. Can you share a memory from that special performance?
Playing at the Ryman, celebrating the 1989 NSAI Song of the Year, brought back a flood of memories of when neither one of us had much going on and the incredible journey we have been on ever since. I’m filled with gratitude for all that came since we met and wrote “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”
What is the most unusual inspiration you’ve ever had for a song?
I was writing with Cory Batten one day and was fixing him lunch. He had his head in the refrigerator, getting something out, and I heard him sing, “All I can think about is getting you home.” I asked him, “What’s that?” He said, “I just made it up.” I had him sing it in my phone because I thought was a great idea.
A few months later we were writing with Chris Young for the first time, and we didn’t like any of our ideas, so I pulled out that thing Cory sang in my frig. That was what we wrote, and it ended up being Chris’s first #1 song.
What is the most personal song you’ve ever written?
It would have to be “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” We basically wrote it for our wives, and it didn’t cross our minds it would be a world & life changer.
What advice would you give to aspiring country music songwriters?
Be prepared. Anytime you are writing with someone always have some song ideas, titles, lyrics, words, whatever that you have to bring to the table. Aim to write it up, with better writers who can help you with your craft & learn to play as many instruments as possible because they can inspire you and your co-writers to come up with different sounds.
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career?
In My Life – The Beatles
They always had a way of crafting lyrics you understood yet they said them in a different way.
Same Old Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg
An underrated genius, the pictures he paints in that song have you living in them.
The Heart of the Matter – Don Henley
The best breakup song ever, the depth of the lyrics goes deeper than most writers will go.
Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) – Dan Seals
That song makes me tear up every time I hear it or try to perform it. Though I know nothing much about rodeos, it’s a universal feeling of someone who has moved and disregards the impact of their actions.
The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
The words were true 60+ years ago and truer now. It makes me aim to write timeless songs like that.
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
The perfect (timeless) song about appreciating the beauty in everything.
The Song Remembers When – Trisha Yearwood
Another song that pulls you right into the scenes and touched the universal depth of break ups.
Walk Away Joe – Trisha Yearwood
What a great story, the song that carries you along on the girl’s journey on life, living & love.
The Change – Garth Brooks
Written by the great Tony Arata, it’s inspiring by reminding us we don’t have to buy into anything that isn’t our truth, knowing of who and what we are.
Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds
Its sound is what inspired me to pick up the guitar.
Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix
The sound and style was so far beyond the boundaries of what was possible in music and guitar playing. I still listen to it in awe and am always inspired by how relevant it still sounds today.
Self-Titled Album – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Their first record, all of it. The sound is amazing, yet every song doesn’t sound like anything else on the record. An inspiration to step out and go beyond the bounds of what is “normal” with unique performances. These days it seems a lot of records sound alike from song to song & this record reminds me to think outside the box.