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Song Writing with Drew Smith

George Grombacher May 8, 2022

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Song Writing with Drew Smith

LifeBlood: We talked about song writing, the process of writing a song, what skills are required to do it, and why it can be hard to do it consistently, with Drew Smith, award-winning professional song writer.  

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Drew Smith

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on we’re left with this is George G and the time is right welcome. Today’s guest is drawing a powerful drew Smith. Drew, are you ready to do this? I’m ready. All right, let’s go. Drew is an award winning professional songwriter, country artist He’s based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s also the owner of gray sound recording and the creator of the before you record course for new artists. Drew, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do

Drew Smith 0:39
what you do. Man I so I live in Nashville, Tennessee, first of all, thank you for having me. Oh, man, for sure. Make sure I say that because I’m grateful to be here with you this morning. Live in Nashville, Tennessee, been a bit of full time musicians since 2008. So whatever the math is on that. I never was good at geology. So I’ll let you do the numbers there. And I love it, man. I’m very blessed. I’ve got a a wonderful partner. She has a nine year old daughter. They’re, you know, they’re currently by world and that music man. And that’s pretty much what I’m living for now. Love it.

george grombacher 1:31
Drew, what is your favorite song?

Drew Smith 1:35
Oh, man, why would you ask me that?

george grombacher 1:39
Is that is that? Is that an inappropriate question to ask? Is that just a really hard question to ask. I feel like nobody’s ever a favorite song.

Drew Smith 1:47
I feel like they should do man. Cuz I love asking people that question. But the the thing with me is that if you ask me, it’s 830 in Nashville right now. So I can give you an answer now. But if you call me back at noon, I’ll have a different answer. All right, it changes all the time, man. It really does. I think right now. Right now my favorite song there’s a new Randy Houser song that just came out a couple of weeks ago called Oh, God, what is the name of it? It’ll come to me in a second. Yeah, the new Randy Houser single. Another favorite of mine is the new Cody Johnson song till you can’t. And it just went number one yesterday. Had some buddies that wrote they’re really excited for them. But it’s, it’s not my favorite because my buddies wrote it. It’s just it’s a well written song. It’s a great song. So those are my two favorites right now. I love it.

george grombacher 2:47
What is it about music that that that that we love so much as human beings? That’s an answerable question.

Drew Smith 2:55
I think it’s connection. I think it’s the ability to transfer, a feeling or an emotion and energy. All of those things through through a song. I think that people when you can do that, and you can connect that way make it relatable. And there’s something about that. There’s something nostalgic about it as well. You and I could probably sit here half the day George and go over, you know, list of songs, just naming random songs that, you know, we heard 10 2015 years ago, whatever and go, Oh, man, that reminds me of that summer and you know, wherever and, and this memory and that memory and I mean, it emotes smells and feelings and everything else is just a magical thing. Man. Music is a powerful thing. I think that’s it’s a drug. Yeah, that’s what we all love about it. Mm hmm.

george grombacher 4:10
Is it is it? Is it hard to write songs?

Drew Smith 4:17
Uh, it wasn’t yesterday. But I have to go do it again in a couple hours. So it might be today. I’ve made I’ve written over 1000 songs in my career. And some days they just fall out of the sky. And other days you have to go find them. So it’s it’s different every day, man. I think the hard part I don’t think writing songs is hard. I think what’s hard as being honest, and which should be an easy thing to do. But you know, that’s a some days it’s hard to be vulnerable in a song or something. It’s hard to be vulnerable period. But think it’s hard to be honest. And I think it’s also, it’s also hard to be original and say something that hasn’t already been said. Or to find a way to say it in a way that is that has never been done. Those are the hard parts about writing songs.

george grombacher 5:18
Do you go in with an idea? Or do you go in with a framework and say, I’m going to write this kind of song today? And then, or what is your process?

Drew Smith 5:32
So typically, so I’ve been at songwriting deals for the last 12 years. And so basically, so I have a publishing company that, you know, they will, they will book everything and when you when you write for a publisher, a publisher books, everything for you, most of most everything, most of all your co writes. So you show up in a in a room with, you know, one or two other people. And you sit down with a goal of writing the best song that you can that day. And typically, the way that it works is you you walk in and we all kind of have our, our, you know, used to we had to keep them in notebooks now everything would just we keep all our ideas on our phones. And so you get in the room, and everybody does the whole Hey, how you do and as Obama Nam and all the catching up, and then you eventually, you know, break out the guitars and then you see everybody break out their phones after that you start going through titles and ideas. And we usually just throw around ideas for a little while until we land on something that everybody feels like is in the room that day. And and it’s always I tell people this all the time, you know, you you might throw out 100 ideas collectively, in the room. It’s almost never that much, you know, but But you could throw out 100 ideas in the room that day. But the you always know, the song is supposed to ride that day, because it’s it’s always unanimous. You know, it’s somebody will throw out a title and everybody in the room goes, yes, let’s jump on that. Let’s do that. Everybody’s excited about it. So that’s that’s typically how we start, man. It just starts with an idea. And we just go from there.

george grombacher 7:19
Fascinating that you just know, right? It’s like throwing out different ideas. It’s fine. It’s fine. But then when it hits like yes, that is it.

Drew Smith 7:27
Yeah. Here we have the we have the Nashville No, which is when somebody throws out an idea or a lot. And you just kill Oh, yeah, that’s cool, man. Yeah.

george grombacher 7:45
I love it. The Nashville No. Nice. Yeah. So you are a professional songwriter. And there are I’m fascinated by that. There’s these brilliant musicians, rock and roll stars, that they just don’t seem to produce new music. And you know, it depends, I’m sure but like, how is all this pulling example? How is James Taylor? He wrote some of the most wonderful songs in the world I’m guessing or sings them anyway. It’s like how is he not consistently producing new amazing music?

Drew Smith 8:25
It’s it’s wild man. I you know, I think for some of us, we just we run out of words. James is Brother live. He’s still hard at it, man. Last time I saw him. He was. This is a crazy story. I don’t know if you have time for it. We’re about to make time for it because it’s a good story. Let’s go. I was on the road man. And I was playing down in Augusta, Georgia. And I played I think it’s called the bail theater. Maybe some military anyway is a big space. And the Harlem Globetrotters were at the the arena next door. And I was I was kind of jealous that I was having to play a show and not yet because I’ve always wanted to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I’m not even a basketball fan. But I think those guys would be cool to watch. And the next day I get up and I’m checking out of the hotel. And I they had a little Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel. And so I ordered a coffee and I go and I sit down in this chair and I’m waiting for it. I had my cars have my luggage and I have my guitar there and this guy comes in he sits down next to me and he’s got a guitar case and one little suitcase and he starts talking to me and I thought Man, this guy he looks so familiar. his mannerisms are familiar. His voice is familiar like I feel like I’ve met this guy before. And he’s just a sweetheart of a guy and, and just talk to me it was just like, you know, regular old, regular old dude. And he saw your guitar, there’s you play lesson. So yeah, I played, you know, here, the this auditorium, whatever the name of it was. I said, what about you? And he said, Yeah, yeah, played the coffee shop down the street. It was great man there was probably like 30 people there and sick. Cool man that’s, you know, that’s awesome and and are both of our coffee orders came up and he said, Hey Madison, I would I’d love to give you one of my CDs. He said, Would you swap me one of my CDs for one of yours? I said Yeah, absolutely. And so we get outside and he hands me a CD and I’m digging one of mine out. And it was it was live Taylor’s James’s brother live, wrote a few of those huge James Taylor hits. And he’s a professor at I believe, at

Unknown Speaker 11:15

Drew Smith 11:17
And it was spring break that year. And so he, during his spring break, instead of Joe, what most professors and teachers do, which I would assume would be to just relax for a week. This dude hits the road, and drives as far as he can and plays coffee shops to 30 people and sells a CDs, and then goes back home and goes right back to work. And he’s still writing songs. He’s still recording songs, and he’s still teaching the the art and the craft of songwriting. And I think that is amazing that he’s still at it. So to answer your question, George, I don’t I don’t know. Because it’s, you know, he’s doing that. And James is just kind of, I don’t know what he’s doing with Lynn or something. Or maybe Peyton or I don’t know, you know, but two guys that who have had amazing careers. And one of them, one of them still wants to get out there and dig and the other just kind of wants to hang out. So I’m not sure man, I guess we all have something that, you know, drives us a little bit differently.

george grombacher 12:36
Yeah, it’s, it’s fascinating. I love music so much. I love all different kinds of music. And you look at, I’ve always looked at James Taylor, like, oh my goodness, I wish he would write more music. And then I look at a guy like Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, and they’re just producing music constantly. It’s awesome. You know, it’s obviously different. And my favorite is Springsteen, and he’s out there. However old the boss is, and he’s killing, it seems like on a nightly basis, so it’s, it’s just fascinating for people who are listening, and they say, you know, what, I’ve always wanted to, or I’ve been trying to write songs, your your, your advice to them.

Drew Smith 13:14
Just go to college, it’s easier to do. It’s cheaper to man, you know what I say if you want to write songs, write songs. And people have this, there’s this great misconception that you have to be a musician to be a songwriter. Or that you have to be a musician to be a great songwriter. And that’s just simply not true. There are songwriters in this town that just can’t play a lick on guitar or any other instrument. Or that they’ve been playing for 30 years and trying to play for 30 years, and they just don’t get it. They just can’t pick it up. But they are incredible lyricist. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We have all the tools that we need now, on our phones. So if you want to write songs, you know, download your little, little voice recorder app on your phone, and hum your melodies into that voice recorder and hum your lyrics. You know, anytime that you have a thought or an idea, write it down immediately, because I just can’t seem to learn George I’ve been doing this. I’ve been writing songs for the better part of my life. I’ll have a thought come to me in the middle of the night. And I’ll go Oh, yeah, that’s easy. I’ll remember that in the morning. And it always goes away, man. So if you ever have a thought or an idea, always write it down. But if you want to write songs, just write songs because there’s absolutely nothing to hold you back and There, there’s some great resources out there now, man, you can get online and you can find tracks that have already been written and recorded that you can write lyrics to. And if that, if that helps you. If that helps motivate you to write songs, I think if you’re not a musician, I think that that’s a wonderful tool to have, because it’s at least it’s forward motion. For the process of writing and getting words out, you’ve got something behind you that’s enforcing your ideas and makes you want to spit more words out to complete, you know, sentences and phrases. So you want to write songs, write songs.

george grombacher 15:45
How important is it and I assume it’s better if I can read music, but not essential.

Drew Smith 15:53
Nope. Doesn’t matter. I took music theory in high school. I read music. I was a was a relatively proficient sight reader. So you could just throw sheet music in front of me and I can just, you know, play it. Not perfectly, but really close. And since I’ve been a professional musician, I’ve not read a single bout of music. haven’t written it haven’t. I mean? Nothing. So I think that’s another misconception people have. So if you don’t, you don’t you don’t understand sheet music, how to read music, how to write music. Doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. That that shouldn’t hold you back anymore.

george grombacher 16:49
No excuses.

Drew Smith 16:51
No excuses now, man. Let’s go love it. Yo. It’s a great time to be alive, man. I mean, it really is. It doesn’t matter if you want to write songs or do you want to be a plumber if you want to wait doesn’t matter what you want to do. It’s there’s so many resources now. And we’re living in a really amazing time.

george grombacher 17:16
That’s well said. Well, drew the people are a few difference making tip. Even though that was a really good one. What do you have for them?

Drew Smith 17:24
I think just that man, I think whatever you want to do, it’s out there. And and it’s in it’s out there to be had and it’s out there to be yours. And if you can, if you can dream it and if you can believe it, then you can live it. And I say just go live it.

george grombacher 17:46
I think that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. DREW Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage? Where can they check out the before you record course.

Drew Smith 17:58
Before you record course you can, you can find that at before you You can find all my personal stuff, my songs and what I’m doing as an artist and producer at Drew Smith I’ve tried to make it really easy for everybody. All my social handles are at Drew Smith live so Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok. All of those things. It’s all at Drew Smith live.

george grombacher 18:27
Nice. Do you feel extra pressure when you’re on Tik Tok drew versus other mediums?

Drew Smith 18:35
I don’t George because I hide from tic tock because I don’t understand it.

george grombacher 18:41
That’s awesome. If you enjoyed this as much as I did, so drew your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Check out the before your record course at before you record calm, find all things drew Smith at Drew Smith And then all over social media. His handle is at Drew Smith live with link all those in the notes. Thanks, Andrew.

Drew Smith 19:08
Thank you, George. Appreciate you, man.

george grombacher 19:11
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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