The 26th Annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival continued on Wednesday (April 4) with countless showcases highlighting the best songwriting talent in Nashville. Dustin Lynch joined country hit makers Lee Thomas Miller, Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley during the late show at 3rd and Lindsley for an evening of laughs and stories.
“You did realize it’s songwriters sitting on stools singing the crap they wrote,” Thomas said to the packed room at the start of the show. “We don’t rehearse. One of the rules is you’re not allowed to practice and I promise you these other guys haven’t practiced.”
Practice or not, the night included spellbinding interpretations of each hit by the man that penned the song. When a writer forgot the lyrics to his own song, his songwriting pal beside him or the audience would often jump in to help him out.
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Miller kicked off the round with Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still a Guy.” A comical song he wrote with Paisley, he said the song started silly and then got ridiculous. “This was a few years ago before political correctness took over the world,” he confessed. With lyrics that discuss “dudes getting facials, manicured, waxed and botoxed,” he adequately got his point across as the room erupted in laughter.
Frequent songwriting partners, Mobley and Thrasher performed several of their hits for Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney, among others. As Mobley explained, Rascal Flatts’ 2007 hit, “Take Me There,” was penned with Chesney and came about after the singer called him drunk one night.
“Kenny calls late one night with the idea and a lot of the first verse finished,” Mobley explained. “It’s a no brainer. Obviously we said yes. Kenny’s a great songwriter. I guarantee you that if Kenny drunk dialed you at 3 a.m. trying to rhyme alligator with Volkswagen, you’re at least going to take a shot at it.”
After Thrasher performed another Flatts cut with “Fast Cars and Freedom,” Lynch admitted that he frequently played the song during his days singing covers on Broadway. “That’s one of my favorite songs ever,” Lynch gushed. “That song has made me $23 in the tip jar of my career down here on Broadway.” The songwriters then quipped, “That’s exactly what we got paid on Spotify last year.”
All kidding aside, Lynch then performed his debut single, “Cowboys and Angels” to a captivated audience. He dedicated the song to his grandparents, who are celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary next week.
“If this song has taught me anything, it’s the power of music and that God has a plan. I wrote this song with a guy I never met before and a guy that I’ve idolized for years and years. He and I brought in the same exact title the very first time we wrote a song together,” he said of the track that he penned with Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Tim Nichols and Josh Leo.
Following Lynch’s poignant ballad, Miller raved about the budding singer-songwriter. “Folks right there, that’s what makes this town so great,” he noted. “We write songs about life and love with total strangers, it’s an amazing thing.”
Later Lynch would praise the three songwriters he shared the stage with, admitting that he isn’t quite sure how he got invited to the round. “I moved to town in 2003 when you were literally making the soundtrack of my life growing up,” he marveled. “I don’t often get to do this and I’m honored.”
Highlights throughout the evening included Mobley’s powerful rendition of Chesney’s six week No. 1, “How Forever Feels,” where the four men on the stage sang harmony, and his striking performance of “I Know You Won’t,” cut by Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. Meanwhile, Miller shared his admiration for Chris Stapleton by performing his current ACM nominated co-write, “Whiskey and You.” He joked that he promised Stapleton that he’d get the lyric tattooed on his body if the song ever does anything significant.
Lynch passed on his final round in favor of allowing Mobley and Thrasher to perform their memorable Chesney cut, “There Goes My Life.” A fan of songwriters, Lynch said since he hears himself on stage every night as part of Paisley’s tour he’d prefer to listen to their timeless hits. Mobley and Thrasher closed the round with their seven week chart topper. Trading verses on “There Goes My Life,” the magic captured in the writing room was parlayed to the audience. Something only witnessed at the world’s largest songwriters festival, music fans attending Tin Pan South experience this unique insight into the songwriter’s life throughout the week.
Tin Pan South runs through Saturday, April 7.