Almost ten years ago, when Scotty McCreery was named the champ of American Idol in 2011, he quickly released his debut album Clear As Day that same year. So quickly, in fact, that he didn’t have time to be a part of the songwriting process.
Then came his See You Tonight in 2013. He co-wrote six of the songs on that album, but he was just getting warmed up.
By the time he released his last album Seasons Change in 2018, he’d co-written all 11 songs on that one.
So it’s probably safe to say — after being born with a deep, rich baritone voice — he has now mastered the craft of songwriting as well. His first song off his upcoming album is “You Time,” one he wrote with Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis.
When I had the chance to catch up with McCreery about all the progress he’s made as a songwriter, he told me what he’s learned to love in the decade since he auditioned for American Idol.
CMT.com: In the nine years that you’ve been making country music as a professional, do you think you’ve made some progress not just as a singer but as a songwriter?
McCreery: 100 percent.
How does that happen, though? How can you learn something that seems more like a trait you’re born with?
It’s tough not to learn it. Because when you get to town with so many incredible and talented songwriters, you get to just be a sponge and soak up what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing and how they operate. I was writing some songs pre-Idol, but hopefully those songs will never ever see the light of day.
From your first album to this new on you’re working on, what’s changed about how you walk into a writing session?
When I got to Nashville, I didn’t write any on the first record. Then I wrote some on the second one. But after that, I wrote on the entire third record. I’d definitely say my writing has been improving. It’s something I really enjoy doing right now. Whereas before I might have been a little intimidated by it. Now it’s something I actually look forward to. It’s a cool way to tell your story. You get to go in a room with a blank sheet of paper, and by the time you’re done, you have a piece of art. And I love that.
Your last chart-topper “In Between” is one of my favorites. It’s so well done and so well written. Especially that part about how you ain’t all holy water and you ain’t all Jim Beam. What inspired that line during your songwriting session with Frank Rogers, Jessi Alexander and Jonathan Singleton?
That was my line. That’s just kind of who I am, so that line came really naturally to me. I remember we were about to break for lunch that day, to go to Pei Wei, and I threw that line out and they all loved it. It’s so cool to be able to tell people who you are and where you’re at in life in a song and in music in general. And that’s what I love doing. I think that line in particular can speak to a lot of us, because you may only be seeing the extremes, but so many of us are not all this or not all that.