What If There Are No Song Ideas Left?

Artists Share Their Thoughts on That Blank Sheet of Paper

Some people might see a blank sheet of paper as a clean slate. But some look at it a little more warily; like how it represents a song you haven’t written or an idea you haven’t come up with.

So do singer-songwriters in country music ever worry about running out of song ideas?

  1. Keith Urban

    Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

    For me, a lot of the time the music tells the story or draws the story out versus the other way around. The studio for me is a blank canvas where I come in with no real ideas. I walk in, start playing music, write songs in the studio, build the record, and the whole thing is very much like a blank wall, and I’m just painting.

  2. Thomas Rhett

    Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for ACM

    I worry about that every day. Me and dad joke about it. We get in a room and think, “What is left to write?” People write songs all day, every day. So it’s hard to do it, but when you can come up with a hook that’s never been said before, or an idea you’ve never heard before, it’s a blessing. I find inspiration from talking to people, watching fans, watching commercials, playing shows. Just everywhere. And this past year, I had writers come with me on the road so we’d get a chance to write all day and then they’d watch the show. There have been countless songs we’ve written back on the bus after we’ve gotten inspired by the fans. When you’re out there on the road, you’re already in a creative mode, so it makes songwriting a lot easier.

  3. Dierks Bentley

    Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

    You’ve got eight notes, right? And I always wonder how many times you can you play the same chord progression. I’m always so amazed that everyone always has their own fingerprints that they can leave on a song. And I feel like somehow, there’s always room for another song. It’s amazing. And country music has those songs you hear and you’re just like, “God. I can’t believe they found a way to put a twist on that same old idea.”

  4. Maren Morris

    eff Kravitz/ACMA2018/FilmMagic for ACM

    Sometimes I worry about that, but that’s when it’s just about having to push through. And also, you have your co-writers who you can count on. They are a huge part of helping you not run out of song ideas. Because someone will always have a different way of looking at an idea or an emotion, or a different way of telling a story.

  5. Rhett Akins

    Emma Mcintyre/ACMA2018/Getty Images for ACM

    Every day, I think I’m out of ideas. When I’m driving to work, I think, “Please let the person I’m writing with today have an idea, because I am fresh out.” A lot of times, we will get ideas just from sitting in the session talking. Other times, ideas just come from life. I got the idea for Blake Shelton’s (Grammy-nominated) “Honey Bee” when I saw an article about Mike Huckabee. I misread his name. I thought it was Huckleberry, and then that morphed into honeysuckle, which morphed into honey bee. And when (my son) Thomas Rhett and I wrote “Life Changes,” that one was inspired by how crazy his life’s been since college. Because he was just a normal kid. He was in a little cover band, but he wasn’t serious about it. And then out of the blue he got a publishing deal, then Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Lee Brice cuts. Then a record deal, then he gets married, then he adopts a baby, then he has a baby. Like, “Ain’t it funny how life changes?”

  6. Jordan Davis

    Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

    Music’s been around for a long time. So there are a lot of people who have been writing songs for a lot longer than I have. But you just need to find new ways to approach songs, even ones that might’ve already been done before somehow. You need to have a different angle for looking at something. I feel like as long as there are words out there, I think we can always find a way to write a song.

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