Lee Brice: Great Songs Won’t Leave You

Inside His Songwriting Session on Wheels

It seems like every country star has a song that is a special, special song. If he/she is lucky, there are a couple of those in the repertoire. But for Lee Brice, that’s what he strives for with every song he records.

“I want the songs that will be remembered 10 years from now, not just 10 months from now,” Brice told me right before his show at the recent Windy City Smokeout in Chicago. “Great songs like that won’t leave you.”

And he would know. His song catalog is full of those.

Once a train gets going, headed toward a certain trend in music, he explained, a lot of songs will just follow that train.

“There’s actually pressure to follow that train. But then all of the sudden, everything is just vanilla. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. Even if you love vanilla, you eventually want chocolate.”

That’s why Brice rarely stops writing. Even if it means bringing everything and everyone he needs out on the road with him. At his Chicago stop, Brice had singer-songwriter Lance Miller (“Drink to That All Night,” “Beer With Jesus”) with him, plus a bus full of instruments and recording equipment. Like a songwriting session on wheels.

“I’m a writer at heart. Making music is what I love. But when I’m working hard out here on the road, I feel like I don’t get to write as much in Nashville,” he said. “So I write and record out here.

“Then sometimes, if a song I write is extremely personal, it’s so hard to let it go.”

Some of the songs Brice has written and then let go — like Garth Brooks’ “More Than a Memory” and the Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl” — have wound up at the very top of the charts. And on his arm of fame.

Brice’s left forearm is covered with tattoos for what he says are the important dates in his life, including the birthdates of his children, his wedding date and the dates that “More Than a Memory” and “Crazy Girl” ended up in the No. 1 spot.

After our interview, Brice and Miller shared with me a little bit of a new song they’d been working on, tentatively titled “High School Heart.” As in, years later, you’re still love her with your high school heart and you still see them through your 18-year-old eyes.

Sounds like another great song that won’t leave you, and one that might even end up on Brice’s arm.

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