Songwriting Secrets of Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves

More Tips From Lady Antebellum, Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore

Finally. Someone is asking the tough questions. Like, “How the hell do you write a song?”

In this story on Radio.com, country songwriters and singers give their best advice for putting pen to paper, starting with exactly that — putting pen to paper.

Dierks Bentley recalls someone telling him, “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.”

“I thought he was being a (expletive), but basically what he was saying was — you can’t be precious with your songs — you’ve just got to write ’em and file ’em,” he said. “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.”

Here is some more wisdom from some of country’s best writers:

Kacey Musgraves: “The best songs for me come from things that I have actually experienced or have some kind of insight on. 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.”

Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley: “There’s no right or wrong way to write a song. 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 song or melody. It always finds its way. Some people come in with lyric ideas or a poem.”

Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “You have to keep your heart open and your ears and eyes open. The best songwriters are those that allow themselves to be vulnerable. 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.”

Brett Eldredge: “As a songwriter, you have to not be afraid of telling these stories. If you want to be 100 percent honest, you can’t be afraid to tell it.”

Kip Moore: “Study who you like. You’ve got to sit down and you have to listen over and over for hours and hours of laying there at night and trying, understanding who the greats are, who your favorites are and paying attention to how they did it. It will soak into your mind and teach you how it’s done. That’s what I did. I studied the greats and the guys that I loved, and that’s how I learned how to write songs.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.