(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
That’s Dierks Bentley‘s advice on songwriting. Essentially, don’t try to be Justin Bieber. Like when he’s talking about getting the lyrics down, he says, “Avoid the generic,” he says. “The only reason Justin Bieber can get away with a whole chorus that uses only the words baby and ooh is because he’s Justin Bieber. Specificity and originality beats cliché every time. So maybe instead of ‘I love you, I need you the rest of my life,’ go with ‘I could live without your love — I’d just have to get used to feeling numb the rest of my life.'” Bentley advises songwriting hopefuls in his guest column in the May issue of Esquire magazine on newsstands Tuesday (April 26). The feature is titled “How to Write a Song (for a Woman).” His other words to live by? Play an acoustic guitar because every guy looks good playing it and because it suggests sensitivity. Learn the G, C, and D chords. Sing your song directly to her. And do not to use a guitar pick. I don’t think Bentley has any kind of formal journalism training, but this column shows he has a way with words no matter what he’s penning. It’s full of personality, useful advice and has a casual but persuasive tone. If he ever gets tired of being a country music star, writing might be a good fall-back position for him.