Jun 26, 2017

John Rich's Songwriting Tips #81

Back in the olden days when Mr. Johnny Rich here was a studly young country singer and songwriter, the biggest piece of advice I ever got was the hardest one. "You have to write songs better than those you hear on the radio." said the old codgers and biddies. When you're young and dumb and full of shit, you've gotta compete with the big timers, the ballers, the OGs, if you will. Artists and labels are more willing to work with who they know. Those writers who've made it tend to get settled in and lazy and start pumping out hits like a hot dog company pumping lips and ears and ballsacks into their juicy wieners.

That used to be quite a chore. Hell, as a twenty-something, I was competing with the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Craig, and Don Sampson. It was a trial by fire, my friends. You had to come into the writers' room full of piss and vinegar and pacing like a damn silverback, or you'd get torn to shreds by these bad asses.

Nowadays, I turn on my radio and scratch my head when pondering that old piece of advice. This is a sampling of some of the lyrics I've heard lately: "Ooh she got me like yeah baby girl, you gone and done it again." Alrighty then. And "Dang girl look at you, stopping me in my boots, what's a country boy to do but say uh uh." Look, I'm part of the establishment. I'm "The Man," so I hate to talk bad about another cog in the machine, but let's get real. An ADD riddled 9 year old with a D average could come up with more coherent lyrics than that. I could let my cat walk across a computer keyboard and she'd write better poetry.

So basically what I'm saying is… that old advice is pointless as a bowling ball. If you write songs that are better than the ones on the radio, you're probably not getting anything cut. If you write songs worse than those on the radio, you're not getting enough brain function to put on velcro sneakers. I don't know what to tell you. Be famous. Have a dad in the business. Know people. Or get me a couple of extra ketchup packets for my curly fries.

JR out.

*not actually written by John Rich

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