Clint Black is a superstar, and he worked extremely hard to earn that status. He is a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor. He is known and loved forfor his heart-wrenching break-up songs and inspiring love songs that stand the test of time.
It’s often interesting to hear an artist’s definition of country music and how they feel about today’s music compared to, in this case, the music of Clint Black’s era. In this episode of How I Wrote That Song, Clint discusses the importance of lyrics, poetry, and the high standard for calling a song “country.”
Black came onto the country music scene during a very exciting time. The music was changing thanks to artists like Clint, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. These five artists make up the storied “Class of ‘89.” As The Tennesseean wrote: “The Class of ‘89 … changed the face of one of America’s truest art forms, propelling country music to unprecedented commercial success and worldwide popularity.”
That class paved the way for today’s heavy hitters like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Carrie Underwood; each of whom made his or her country music debut approximately 15 years later. How I Wrote That Song with Clint Black will take you on a trip back to when Clint was a young man with a record deal, a successful radio single, yet still only pulling in $50 a gig. He was chomping at the bit to finish his album and had a hard time “killing time” waiting for it to come together.
You’ll hear how fate brought the unmistakable voice of Wynonna to join Clint on one of the most emotional songs in his repertoire, “A Bad Goodbye.” And wait until you find out how long it took him to write it!
And, ironically, you’ll laugh when you hear Clint describe how he fooled his wife, Lisa Hartman Black, into joining him to sing what is still considered to be one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, “When I Said I Do.”
We are our own worst critics. Luke Spiller knows this as well as anyone. Despite churning out a successful run of crossover hits with The Struts for more than a decade, he’s still never sure if a song will land until he lets other people hear it.
“That’s one thing I’ve learned,” he says in this episode of How I Wrote That Song, “that you simply do not know. The only thing you can do… is keep pushing and pushing, and then something is gonna surface, that you might not even recognize the quality within it, until you really start to show it around and people react to it and get drawn into that.”
Take their earliest hit, “Could Have Been Me.” The track is from the Struts’ debut album Everybody Wants, and it elevated the band from UK club favorites to global rockstars. But Luke explains, “I remember when we finished it. I was outside having a cig with Ads (guitarist Adam Slack) and I was like, ‘Is this any good? …I mean, it’s alright.’ And that’s the funny thing with some of these singles. When they happen towards the end of your creative process of creating an album, by then sometimes you can be overtired, over traveled, and you really just don’t know what’s good anymore. ‘Could Have Been Me’ was one of those ones for sure. My hands were up in the air, like, ‘It’s a great song, but I don’t know.’”
It ended up not only being a hit, but Luke jokes that it’s “the song that keeps on giving.” High-profile placement in sporting events, commercials and movies exposed the band to an entirely new audience. In 2021, the song was covered by Halsey for the Sing 2 soundtrack – a children’s movie – and he noticed that “all of these little kids were showing up with their parents” to the Struts’ concerts.
“I thought to myself, have I got to tone the show down now?” he says with a laugh. “But then I thought, f— it, and I did what I did and didn’t dumb it down. And you see the kids’ faces, and they absolutely love it.”
Hear more stories behind the band’s most popular songs, plus Luke’s thoughts on musical ad-libs, collaborations and more, in this week’s How I Wrote That Song.
For our latest installment of our How I Wrote That Song series, we sat down and talked with Tyler Hubbard. With 20 No.1 singles on country radio, countless awards, and sold-out tours, Tyler Hubbard has already had an incredibly successful career as a songwriter and as one-half of the multi-platinum duo Florida Georgia Line. The group played their last show for the foreseeable future last year. But Hubbard has wasted no time in establishing himself as a solo star who is able to stand on his own.
His solo debut, Tyler Hubbard, is out now. His debut solo single “5 Foot 9,” was a number one radio hit. And it was certified Platinum by the RIAA, and has almost 385M global streams. Tyler Hubbard also features his current single, “Dancin’ In The Country,” which he discusses with us in this interview.
Lzzy Hale has been writing and performing with her band Halestorm for over half of her life. Over the past two decades, she’s released gold and platinum-selling albums with plenty of chart-toppers at rock radio, all while shattering the status quo with her powerhouse vocals and bold lyrics.
In this installment of How I Wrote That Song, WMMR’s Sara asks Lzzy about her biggest hits, going back to when Halestorm came out swinging in 2009 with the single “I Get Off.” Despite the saucy title, the song’s first draft was actually about how the band won over a few hardened record executives in the audience at a live showcase. When Lzzy developed the lyrics further with a writing collective called The Girls, she explains: “I was telling them this story [about the show] and one of them – and this is why I love writing with women, because our sense of humor is the same – was like, ‘Oh, so you got off on them enjoying what you do’… and we took over this piano, in the lobby of this hotel, and were singing ‘I get off on you, getting off on me,’ just totally annoying everybody around us.”
She adds with a laugh, “It originally didn’t start from sex, but it definitely grew its own legs!”
Sara and Lzzy also discuss the Grammy-nominated song “Uncomfortable” and a new track called “Terrible Things.” Along the way, they touch on her unexpected radio hit with Daughtry this year, swapping gender perspectives in song lyrics, and how activism plays a role in her writing process.
Note: This interview was originally recorded in March 2023.
“Tequila Little Time” is a great song, and it makes a great drink name – but you’ll never guess what Jon Pardi said he’d add to it. Andie Summers caught him he was working on his farm – but make no mistake about it – he was prepared for our conversation. Jon’s house wifi is really spotty (I know this from previously attempted interviews with him) so he set up an Adirondack chair in the middle of a field, and away we went.
While talking to us (and working on his farm), Jon had his hands full prepping to launch his Mr. Saturday Night tour. He had just come out of the studio where he was recording a Christmas album that he says won’t be the usual “boring” Christmas songs. Instead, Jon says it’ll be more like “Christmas with a drink.” And it was just days before his first baby was born (Presley Fawn was born February 18, 2023).
Jon Pardi’s music is country to the core. The way his voice blends with a steel guitar brings the quintessential classic “country” sound into the 2020s. That sound is apparent in his first number one song, 2015’s “Head Over Boots.” 2019’s “Heartache Medication” was a song that he became really animated about in our conversation. (which he becomes really animated about in our conversation), and the song that sounds like it belongs on a Happy Hour menu: Tequila Little Time (2021). Get the scoop on these songs and more in How I Wrote That Song. Watch the interview below.