Country Music People December 2018 - Page 26

Jake Brown with Lori McKenna Brown himself has no designs on infiltrating the ranks of Music Row’s writing rooms but is interested by the behind-the-scenes goings-on in the music industry. Playing five instruments and coming from a rock background, among his works are books on rap legend Tupac Shakur, Rock & Roll drummers, Lemmy from Motorhead and Freddy Powers. He is also responsible for a series on hip-hop producers and has a forthcoming title featuring Nashville producers such as Dave Cobb and Dann Huff called Behind The Boards: Nashville. His knowledge of many aspects of the music business is impressive and his ability to step back and appreciate it for what it is, a business as well as an art form, is admirable. “One thing we tried to emphasise in the book is how competitive it has become. Not just coming in with an old fashioned acoustic guitar and a hook, you have to come in with the ability to do a ‘track,’ which is like ProTools. Sessions used to be the norm, you know, you’d write a demo and then you’d take it in and demo it and you’d have to pay all this money just to be ready to be heard by say Tim McGraw or a song plugger for him or someone else. Now, in a lot of cases, what you hear on the radio is what you heard on the demo. There’s just an incredible, really talented pool of writer-producers who have reshaped the landscaping of songwriting in the town in the last six or seven years. “One of the fortunes we had on this book, was really talking to a lot of these writers who have helped develop singers into songwriters. For instance, Carrie Underwood has become a world- class songwriter and she works with a lot of the same people - Hilary Lindsay, Chris DeStefano, Brett James, Ashley Gorley and so forth, who 26 cmp - DECEMBER 2018 are in this book. Also, if you’re a fan of say Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert… this newer generation, you get also to hear from the songwriter’s perspective what it’s like writing with these people and helping them find their voice and their talent as a songwriter as well. Carrie Underwood came straight off American Idol and into the country music business and we hear Before He Cheats and Jesus Take The Wheel. We have virtually her whole catalogue in this book. You really get to see the evolution of the writers. “The shift in this book is really the pop factor. The pop invasion, if you will, of country music has happened. There’s bro-country, there’s Florida Georgia Line… the infusion of hip hop beats, these things were unheard of even ten or fifteen years ago. The new book favours the newer generation of current writers. On the flip side you’ve got people in there who have been doing it twenty years like Hilary Lindsay, Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley… we also thankfully still had a few old-schoolers like Tom Douglas, Whitey Shaeffer (All My Ex’s Live In Texas), Tim Nichols.” The songwriters, reckons Brown, provide a “fascinating conduit between both ends of the creative spectrum.” They may write the lyrics that can touch a listener’s life, but the artist still has to make the song their own. “That singular voice that can take that song, and let’s be honest, some of these songwriters say themselves that they’re not singers and that they didn’t come here to be singers, there’s almost a partnership there. Tim McGraw, George Strait, Jason Aldean… these are classic case masters in picking songs that they know their fans want to hear… Carrie Underwood, Band