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Remember the part in the 1993 movie Dazed and Confused where Matthew McConaughey asks his teenage friend if he has any weed, and he says no, and then McConaughey laughs and says, "It'd be a lot cooler if you did"? It was a weirdly popular moment in a weirdly popular movie. And it was the inspiration for Blake Shelton's latest hit "Sure Be Cool If You Did." One of the song's co-writers, Rodney Clawson, said when he saw the movie, he wrote that line down because he knew it was a song. "I'd written that line down for six years and tried to write the song two or three times. It just jumps out to a songwriter. The whole thing is a cheesy pick-up line of a song," Clawson told me. We were talking about his ACM Award nomination for songwriter of the year and his journey from Texas farmer to Nashville hitmaker. "It's a lonely process at first. I had a lot of thinking time on a tractor," he said of his first writing sessions. And he had a lot of luck writing about that life, with songs like Jason Aldeans "Amarillo Sky." His other songwriting credits include Shelton's "Drink on It," Tim McGraw's "One of Those Nights," Florida Georgia Line's "Get Your Shine On" and Luke Bryan's "Drunk on You."
These days, Clawson's writing less rural stuff and more of what he calls "frat boy-party-country" stuff. But country trends come and go, and Clawson writes about what he knows. "For the McGraw song, it was just us thinking back to high school or college, about picking a girl up and going to a party and getting to make out with her," he laughed. But even though the country and party themes are doing well for Clawson now, he's not about to rest on his laurels. "I don't ever want to get caught up in that 'I had a No. 1, and I just made a quarter of a million dollars' thing. Then a year later, you don't have any new songs. The farming thing probably helps me show up every day and write and to keep new ones coming. I cherish the hits, but you have to put it in perspective and know what it means and what you need to keep doing," Clawson said. "No matter how much success you've had, you always have a lot of catching up to do."