Perhaps the highlight of my last Nashville trip in January 2012 wasn’t performing at the Commodore or talking with Steve Seskin about his amazing career in the 90′s, but it was the Texaco Country Showdown at the Ryman hosted by LeAnn Rimes. This was the first time I experienced a live show at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
I was invited by friend and co-writer Sherry Brusso, who is also from Houston and happened to be in Nashville at the same time as me. She got free tickets through a friend to go support, Shane Martin. She also invited an old friend, Ana Vincent. So the three of us hung out for the night and experienced the National Finalist of the Country Showdown at the Ryman together. It was a nasty rainy night in downtown Nashville, but we had fun hanging out together.
LeAnn was an entertaining host as she introduced the 5 finalist of the national competition. The finalist included Gwendlyn Kay from Arkansas, Laurel Wright from Tennessee, Shane Martin a native of Minnesota, Keeira Lyn Ford from California and Paisley Van Patten a Utah native. All of these young performers were very entertaining, but it was Laurel Wright who stood out the entire night.
Laurel is a 16 year old singer/songwriter from Marysville, Tennessee whose influences include Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and Patsy Cline. She was represented by WIVK in Knoxville, TN and sang two original songs in the competition, “Can’t You See” and “All That Is On her Mind”. Laurel blew us all away with huge talent of not only singing but also songwriting. In the end she was presented with a $100,000 check from LeAnn Rimes. Find out more about this upcoming future star on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurelwrightmusic or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/laurelwrightxo.
2012 starts off with lots of newcomers in country music racing to the tops of the charts. David Nail is perhaps one of my favorite newcomers and has scored his very first #1 song this week with “Let It Rain”. Nail wrote this song with Jonathan Singleton who also co-wrote Nail’s 2009 top 10 “Red Light” with Nail.
Singleton said about writing “Let It Rain”, “we came up with the idea for the song while talking about movies that we enjoyed. We recalled a movie where “this guy cheats on his girlfriend, and he goes to her house and decides he’s going to sit on her porch until she lets him in.” We did not find the situation plausible and if it was a southern girl or [David's wife] or my wife, the first thing they’d do is throw all our stuff on the porch with us.” Instead of having the male narrator say “I deserve whatever I get, if she never talks to me again”, Nail decided to have the character say “that I’m human just like everyone else and you mess up”. (Source Wikipedia)
I love the imagery in this song of him sitting out on the porch with all his belongings. Nail does a great job portraying the character’s emotion in this situation. His soulful voice brings out the guilt that he feels as he longs for her forgiveness. I think my favorite line is the tag at the very end of the song: “Every word, let it hurt, even more than I deserve; just let it come down on me,
let it come down on me; let it rain” , where he admits that he was wrong in cheating on her and knows he’s going to get what he deserves.
In my opinion, we are going to see lots of David Nail in 2012. He kicked this year off with a great song and his first #1 of his career. Let’s hear what you think about “Let It Rain”
I’m proud to announce that after over 2 years of submitting over a dozen songs to the NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association) in an attempt to better my songwriting craft, I have gotten my first song recommended for the quarterly publisher luncheon!
The song is called “A Beautiful Pain” which I wrote with Danny Harjo who lives in Lakeville Minnesota. Danny and I wrote via skype. I met Danny at a Barbara Cloyd workshop in Nashville in June 2010, but didn’t really start communicating with him until I commented on a facebook post about his daughters in September 2011. After sending a few messages back and forth discussing his two teenage daughters and my daughter who had just turned one, I pitched him the hook of “A Beautiful Pain”. I explained that I wanted to write a song about watching our kids grow up and how we are so happy with each milestone, but sad to see them growing up so fast. I used the example of my daughter walking and talking and he talked about his 16 year old daughter getting her drivers permit and how hard it is to let her go out on her own.
After our 1st our skype we had virtually written both verses of “A Beautiful Pain”. A few emails back and forth and another hour skype and we had written a beautiful coming of age song that takes you from watching your daughter take her first steps to driving, dating and eventually to getting married in the bridge.
My personal favorite line in the song is “I see my baby girl standing there in you shadows” which Danny wrote in the bridge of the song. I think this line is the strongest line and will really resonate with many fathers.
Let us know what you think about our new song “A Beautiful Pain” You can listen to an acoustic version on my music facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dustyduhon or on my main website at http://www.dustyduhon.com.
Thanks for your support. I’ll be posting more about my songwriting adventure to keep you updated on every little success along the way.
Brantley Gilbert may seem like a new face to country music, but throughout 2011, Brantley had a few huge successes as a songwriter. Brantley and rapper Colt Ford shared writing credits on Jason Aldean’s #1 song “Dirt Road Anthem” in July 2011. Jason Aldean also covered Brantley’s “My Kind of Party” which peaked at #2 on the billboard charts in January 2011.
But this week, Brantley is celebrating his first #1 song of his own on the Billboard charts, “Country Must Be Country Wide” which was written by Brantley, along with Colt Ford and Mike Dekle. With a southern rock feel, Brantley sings about an encounter with a country boy in Ohio and discovers that country music is not just popular in the south. He brings in country artist such as Cash, Hank, Willie, and Walyon as he states that in every state these classic artist are still heard on the radio.
I love how he describes country life all across the US when he says “ It ain’t where, it’s how you live We weren’t raised to take, we were raised to give the shirt off our back to anyone in need” It’s amazing how simple these lyrics are along with a simple yet infectious melody. The southern lyrics along with the southern rock feel brings you back to such songs classics as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama.
What do you think about Brantley Gilbert. Will he be a future super star of country music?
October 8, 2011 was an exciting day for Urban Dreamz as we spent 5 hours at Lucky Run Studio in Richmond, TX working with producer Jeremy Dudman on recording our first original song in order to get our music out to our fans.
The song that we chose to be our first recording was written by me and Sherry Kai Kuybus right when Urban Dreamz was starting up. Sherry and I set out to write a song to pitch to Lady Antebellum and I pitched to her the idea for “Make It Up As We Go” talking about a relationship where everything seams to be going wrong, but all they really need is each other, so they forget about their plans and just enjoy their time together. Sherry loved the idea so we spent a few months tackling it via skype on our weekly writing appointments.
After we finished the song, I mentioned that I was starting up a new duo and thought it would be perfect for us. So Aurelia and I started performing the song during our Urban Dreamz gigs and it quickly became our most requested song due to it’s popish feel and a very singable chorus which includes “We’ll go-oh-oh-oh with the flow and baby we’ll just make it up as we go”. This song has defined Urban Dreamz and who we are as artist.
Then in August, I attended a songwriter boot camp at Lucky Run Studios in Richmond which included some performance techniques as well as recording techniques and after seeing that studio I thought about recording there, but I knew we couldn’t afford it. Then low and behold, I won a door prize for 3 free hours in the studio while I was at the boot camp.
So we took our signature song and our free studio time and ventured on our first studio experience. Jeremy Dudman was our producer and was awesome to work with and really nailed the song down perfectly. He was awesome at the fine tuning of each instrument. We started with laying down my guitar tracks to a click track. Then Ren Renfree, a long time songwriter friend came in and did some signature lead riffs for us. After Aurelia and I both recorded our lead vocal tracks. Ren and his wife Andi brought our chorus parts to life with some fabulous harmonies. Then Jeremy made magic happen by blending it all together and adding in drums tracks as well as playing base on the final mix.
You can hear our first professional recording of “Make It Up As We Go” on our facebook at http://www.facebook.com/urbandreamz
In March 2011, I attended Tin Pan South in Nashville, which is the largest songwriter festival with hit songwriters performing at all the venues around Nashville. One of those nights I was at Douglas Corner to see Allen Shamblin (The House that Built Me) with a group of friends from Texas and was amazed by a special guest. This young guy was tall and lean and a hell of a guitar player. He inspired me with the grooves he was banging out on his acoustic guitar. His name was Eric Paslay and his performance was one of the most memorable performances over the entire week competing with huge hit writers such as Hillary Lindsey (Jesus Take the Wheel) and Josh Kear (Need You Now)
Now only 6 months later, Eric finds himself at the top of the billboard charts with Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and on top of that he has signed his own record deal with EMI records and released his own first single “Never Really Wanted”. His unique style of country is the future of country music and I know we will be hearing much more from this great songwriter and artist.
If you have never heard of Eric Paslay, now is the time to check him out:
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are no strangers to the number one country spot, but this week they achieved it together with a powerful duet, “Remind Me” which was written by Brad along with Chris Dubios and Kelly Lovelace. The premises of this power ballad is a married couple who has forgotten what it was like to be in a brand new relationship. What I love the most about this song is how they go back and forth with the hook “Remind Me” as Brad and Carrie bring up things that they have forgotten along the way in their relationship such as “the way I used to kiss your neck” and “kissing goodbye and we couldn’t stop.”
The interesting thing about the structure of this song is there really is no chorus. The only part that somewhat resembles a chorus is the line “So on fire and so in love”, but each time it’s repeated it ends with a different phrase. I think the driving force is the repetition of the hook “Remind Me” after each phrase. One thing that I do like though is in the first part, Brad is singing the main lines and Carrie is singing the “Remind Me” parts and then in the second part it’s reversed with Carrie singing the main lines and Brad singing the “Remind Me” parts.
I actually read in Country Weekly that Brad wrote the song with Carrie in mind as they had been talking about doing a duet and couldn’t get their schedules together. The song made Brad’s “This is Country Music” album at the very last minute before he submitted the project to his label. I think this is a very well written country ballad, but I find it very comparable to the duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” sung by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and I’m not sure it stands up to the 3 week number one smash hit. What do you think?
Dierks Bentley returns to the top of the country charts this week after venturing back to his roots with a bluegrass album entitled “Up on the Ridge.” His bluegrass project yielded two singles, “Up on the Ridge” which peaked at #21 and “Draw Me a Map” which peaked at #33 so it’s nice to see Dierks back at the top of country radio with the fun upbeat song “Am I the Only One.” Bentley quotes ” I wanted to come back with a song that was fun for fans and fun for country radio and fun for us to play every night.” (Wikipedia)
Although “Am I the Only One” doesn’t have much lyrical content to it, it is a fun party song and portrays exactly who Bentley is in his live shows. The song is simply about a guy who wants to go out and party on a Friday night, but none of his buddies are willing to go out with him. The catchy melody sucks you in as Bentley asks “Am I the only one who wants to have fun tonight?” My favorite line is “If I have to raise hell all by myself I will, but ya’ll that ain’t right”
What do you think about Dierks’ return to the country music charts? Does “Am the Only One” match up with his list of top 10 songs which include “What was I thinkin’”, “How am I doin’” and “Sideways?”
This week Lady Antebellum tops the charts with “Just a Kiss.” The three members of Lady Antebellum, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, are not only powerful performers, but they are great songwriters. Together with songwriter Dallas Davidson they wrote what I believe to be one of their strongest ballads, “Just a Kiss,” which is the first single from their new CD “Own the Night.” Dallas Davidson has a few credits of his own with #1 songs including “Gimme That Girl,” “All About Tonight” and even the recent #1 “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”
The trio and Davidson took on the challenge of writing a slow country ballad, which can be very over done and become very cliché. But with the powerhouse vocals of Hillary Scott and the deep sultry vocals from Charles Kelley, the song’s simple lyrics reach out and touch listeners in a unique way. With lyrics like “I’ve never opened up to anyone – So hard to hold back when I’m holding you in my arms” they build the suspense of a new found love.
After setting up the story, the song dives right into the chorus with “Just a Kiss on your lips in the moonlight, Just a touch of the fire burning so bright.” Lines such as “No I don’t want to mess this thing up; I don’t want to push too far” round out the chorus, and turn what could be the same old love story into a unique spin that most people can relate to at some point in their lives. Everyone has been at that point where they are falling in love and feel like they may say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and mess up something great.
I think the four writers were very smart to tell such a common story in such a unique way. Even though the lyrics are so simple, they really relate to people’s everyday lives and combined with the catchy melody and powerful performance, this is certainly a download for me. How about you?
Zac Brown Band sits at the top of the country charts with a beach themed song called “Knee Deep,” which in typical Zac Brown fashion was written by Zac Brown and two guys in the band, Wyatt Durrete and Coy Bowles. But this time they enlisted the songwriting skills of Jeffrey Steele, who has written a number of songs, most notably “What Hurts the Most” for Rascal Flatts. For the recording of “Knee Deep” the band brought in the master of beach music, Jimmy Buffett, to do vocals with the group.
Although I do find this song to be relaxing and a fun summer song, I feel like Zac Brown has already over done the beach theme. With lines such as “I think I found my own kind of paradise,” I find “Knee Deep” to be very similar to their other #1 hits, “Toes” and “Free.” Oddly enough it was almost exactly a year ago (August 10, 2010) to the date that Zac Brown reached number one with their carefree song “Free.” While all three of these songs have catchy melodies, I find their lyrics are very vague and don’t have much substance. In “Knee Deep,” Zac Brown hits the top of the chorus with “Wish I was knee deep in the water somewhere,” but doesn’t really put you in the scene. He brings in some imagery with lines such as “Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair,” but then follows that with vague lines such as “Never been so happy, never felt so high.” I understand that these songs are just meant to be feel good summer songs, but they seem to be the song of the season and then quickly fade out.
Then there’s a song like “Margaritaville” that continues to stand the test of time. Thirty years after the song debuted, “Margaritaville” remains an extremely popular summer anthem. I think it has a lot to do with the lyrics. Buffett is so descriptive and really puts you in the scene. From the very beginning, where he says: “Nibblin on sponge cake, watching the sun bake, all of those tourists covered with oil,” you can just see Buffet sitting in the hot sun on the beach. Then, he takes us to Margaritaville with his lyrics and easy flowing melody. Lines like “Smell of shrimp they’re beginning to boil” and “Blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top” appeal to the senses. And of course who can forget the singable hook, “Wastin’ away in Margaritaville, searching for my lost shaker of salt.”
So will “Knee Deep” stand the test of time and be a popular summer theme song 30 years from now? What do you think?