New year, new you. Right? The world is full of unattainable goals for New Year’s resolutions. But members of the country music community are a little more realistic about their resolutions; especially when it comes to songwriting.
The stars at November’s BMI Country Awards, including new Grammy nominees Kacey Musgraves and Luke Combs, were happy to share with CMT their top songwriting resolutions for 2019. And they all ranged in specificity from quitting hunting talk to writing more.
LANCO'S Brandon Lancaster
I'm going to quit not finishing songs -- getting halfway and thinking it’s not going to be any good and then giving up on it because writing a song can be a fight. It’s about finishing the fight.
I'm going to quit talking about hunting too much and then it’s two hours later, and we’re like, "OK, I gotta write a song." If you get two hours in with no productivity, it can be a long day.
Dan + Shay
Shay Mooney: I'm going to quit writing bad songs.
Smyers: I’m trying to kick that habit of saying “girl” unnecessarily in a song. Sometimes you’ve got to say it. Habitually we use it to fill in an extra syllable in a song when it’s sometimes unnecessary. It sounds over critical and crazy, but it gets on my nerves when we do it.
I'm going to quit getting physically hungry when I write songs. I’m going to stay fed. I’m going to stay caffeinated. If I get hungry or if I get tired, I can’t make words.
Sometimes if it’s midnight and one of my buddies texts and asks, "Are you up? Want to write?" And I’m laying in bed, and I say, "No, I think I’m good." I’m going to take more of those opportunities next year because I’ve gotten a lot of cuts this year with those writes. And so, anytime I miss an opportunity like that, I feel like I should have been there.
I’m a bad over-editor. Sometimes what comes out of your heart and the way it comes out is really special. And if you over analyze it and you try to make it perfect, it will be perfect, but it will lose all that good emotion.
Chris Lucas: Stop overthinking it. Be legit. Make every line a home run as much as you can. Write what’s in your heart, and just feel it.
I’m going to learn some new chords and not do the same G, C, E minor, D progression. I’m gonna branch out.
I think looking at other people’s songs and thinking, “Well if it worked for them, why don’t we do it for us?” is a bad habit. It should be about thinking for ourselves instead of thinking about other stuff.
William Michael Morgan
I’m going to try to be a little bit more open. I’ve always been someone who knows what they want to do. So, I’ve blocked all that off as far as trying new things. I would not be opposed to trying some new things and, of course, keeping it traditional, keeping it us, but branch out a little.
I don’t write enough. My style goes a little different. I go through life, conversations, or arguments and I collect ideas. I put them in my phone, and I save them in a basket for later, and then I open them up, and I see what I have. I would like to get in the habit of creating more consistently. My husband is someone I really admire for that because almost every day he writes an amazing song by himself. That’s another thing, I haven’t written a song by myself in forever. “Mother,” I wrote 90% alone. But I had a little bit of help. I’d like to do that more because there’s a little bit of freedom in just saying I did this myself but if it sucks you can’t really blame it on anybody else.
I think I don’t write enough. If anything, I’d like to write more songs in 2019. When I started out the year, I was doing so many shows. But now, I’ve got some buddies I can take on the road with me on my bus, and we can write out there. I’m going to be gone just as much in 2019. But instead of focusing so much on shows, I want to put just as much focus on writing more songs.
I love writing songs, and I have a lot of bad songwriting habits. I don’t want to kick any of them like I can’t stop thinking about it. I get up early and write, and I stay up late, and I write. I write all the time. And I take it seriously. I do it as a hobby, but I also do it because it’s my job. I owe it to my fans to give them the best I got. I really feel in 20 years I’m really catching my stride. But I’m a late bloomer. I’m having fun, and I know who I am. I’ve always stayed independent because it’s important for me to stay true to my brand.