Songwriter Series - Why I Love the Art of Songwriting
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
By Jac Delveno
I don’t know about you but my favourite thing to do is go for a long walk with my headphones in and listen to music, either during my walk to/from work or during a 5k/10k on the weekend. It is my time to get away from everything and everyone. This has become a necessity during Lockdown, I am a single mum who is currently finishing my Master's degree in Human Resource Management, add in home-schooling a 7-year-old, dealing with a teenager, and being made redundant, going out and getting lost in music is a must!!
The more I was getting lost the more I was taking in the lyrics and the thoughts and feeling behind the words the artists were singing. It becomes a bit of a passion for me, in the evenings I was reading articles online about the artists' process, how certain songs come to light, the people they worked with, and how it all got started. This got me thinking, do we all have a song in us? I’m sure we do. We have all had different experiences in life but if our experience can help someone get through theirs it's all worth it right? So where do people start?
I love the writing in country music because it's so real, it comes from a deep place, three cords, and the truth that’s what they say right? I’m a big fan of all ‘sub-genres’ of country music, which I know is a touchy subject to some out there but I honestly think they all bring something to the genre. I love songs I can identify with, that make me remember a time or place, good or bad. I don’t mind songs about getting a girl in your truck and driving around, in all honesty, I’d love to be one of those girls but I’m a short, curvy, brunette and would probably struggle to get in a truck (They are HUGE!).
One of the most iconic songwriters/artists in Nashville is the queen, Dolly Parton. She is so iconic even my 13-year-old can recite every word to 9-5 and watches the Netflix movie Dumplin’ on repeat!
A Tennessee native she moved to Nashville to pursue her career straight out of high school. Her initial success came as a songwriter, penning charting singles for Kitty Wells and Hank Williams Jr. When she became a recording country artist there were very few songs recorded by Dolly Parton which she did not write. One of her biggest songs, released in 1974, was “I will always love you”. (Written about her professional break from ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’) it went straight to number 1 in the country charts. Around this time Elvis Presley approached Dolly wanting to record the song but after finding out she would have to hand over half of the publishing rights she refused. This decision would become one of her best. In 1992, Whitney Houston covered “I will always love you” for the soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard” both the single and album were wildly successful. Whitneys take on the song turned it into a classic, so much so many people were not aware it was Dolly’s song beforehand. On the same day she penned “I will always love you” she also wrote one of my favourite songs “Jolene”. In her Netflix series ‘Heartstrings’ she explains this song was written about a bank teller who flirted with her husband. The episode itself starred Dolly as Babe, Julianne Hough as Jolene and the fantastic Kimberley Williams-Paisley (Brad Paisley’s wife) as Emily. This entire series is based on classic Dolly Parton songs and the stories are loosely based on the meaning behind them. As someone fascinated with the songwriting process this series is addictive to me, but be warned – it will make you ugly cry!
One of my favourite writers is Cole Swindell. I really don’t think he gets enough credit for his writing. He started off writing hits for Luke Bryan while selling his Merch on tour, has written for Thomas Rhett, Craig Campbell and Scotty McCreery, to name a few, while becoming an established artist himself. My favourite songs are those that you can feel the words in his voice, everything else is stripped back. One song which made me stop in my tracks and start my song writing obsession was ‘Roller Coaster’, originally a #1 for Luke Bryan and co-wrote by Cole and Michael Carter, Cole covered this in his Down Home Sessions 4 EP. I already loved this song but this cover brought a different meaning to the song for me. We have all had summer romances and wish we had said or done something different but with Coles version, it was so stripped down all I could hear was his vocals and the lyrics. To me, the lyrics came alive and I could imagine being on Thomas Drive with him picking a flower to go in my hair. I would love to see Cole bring out this side of himself more and I’d happily be his source of inspiration!