October 18th, 2007

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How to write a country song

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

1) Be born with a melancholy spirit.

2) Go out and get your heart broken. Love deeply and without reservation, and do not brace yourself for the inevitable pummeling to follow. Do this as many times as it takes to completely crush your spirit.

3) Withdraw from society. Solitude is best; however, a few companions are permissible: a bottle of red wine, “Grey’s Anatomy” on DVD, and a dog (optional, and preferably a tick-ridden coon hound).

4) Feel sorry for yourself.

5) Emerge to be surprised by hope. This can be found in various places: a child’s laugh, a generous word, a street corner kiss.

6) Now you are ready to write. Hum a little bar. Now put words to it. For words ending in “-ing,” replace the g with an ‘: cheatin’, drinkin’, achin’. Or, if you are Kenny Chesney, “beach bummin'” and “high school football playin'” work well.

7) Attempt to strike a balance between “pitiful” and “triumphant.”

I am in Nashville. I arrived through a corridor of flaming red and rusty leaves, tornadoes on my heels and pure possibility stretched out ahead. And I feel like my heart is beating.