Songwriter:  WIL NANCE
Music Video:  “She’s Everything

Wil Nance hit the top of Radio & Records and Billboard with his Number 1 Brad Paisley smash “She’s Everything,” a song on Time Well Wasted, the multi-platinum 2007 CMA Album of the Year. He also landed on Troubadour, George Strait’s platinum-selling, Grammy-winning 2008 CMA Album of the Year with a song called “If Heartaches Were Horses.” In 2009, George Strait cut another Nance song, “Where Have I Been All My Life,” which is on Twang.

In 1999, Nance received a BMI award for “Round About Way,” a Number 1 hit single for George Strait, a song on the multi-platinum CMA Album of the Year Carrying Your Love with Me. “Round About Way” is also on Strait’s Latest Greatest Straitest Hits and Strait’s 50 Number Ones.

Nance has received “Million Air” Awards from BMI for Strait’s “Round About Way” and Paisley’s “She’s Everything.” In 2004, Nance received another BMI Award for his Top 10 Joe Nichols single, “Cool to Be a Fool.” Other singles include: Blue County “I Get To,” John Michael Montgomery “You Are,” and Gene Watson “Next to Nothin’,” Chad Brock “You Are.”

We talked with Wil Nance about his songwriting, creative inspiration, and his upcoming performance at Greg Friia’s Songwriters Singing for Coffee—where you get a chance to see this well-respected songwriter up close and personal, along with Brian White, Pete Sallis and Carly Tefft at the Green Hills Starbucks, 3706 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN. It’s a show you won’t want to miss—this Monday, September 25, 2017, at 7:30 PM.

WIL NANCE Web-Exclusive Interview
with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Wil Nance-3What’s most fulfilling about being a songwriter?
I feel blessed to have made a living doing something I’m passionate about. As a songwriter, we hope to affect people’s lives—make someone do something they weren’t doing—or stop doing something. Music is a powerful thing that way.

What made you want to write songs?
I started making up songs when I was 11 or 12. My dad played guitar and sang, mostly in church, and would sing great songs by Tom T. Hall, Roger Miller and Merle Haggard. When I was 17, Dad said, “Son, you want to be in the music business—you have to write your own songs.” That’s pretty much where it all started.

What is your creative process?
The hardest thing about writing songs is coming up with something to write about. Once I do that, I start thinking about everything that goes to that hook. I come up with the lyric and try to find a melody that marries that lyric—that’s where the magic happens. I don’t always know how it happens, but I know when it happens. (Laughs)

Tell us about one of your hit songs “She’s Everything”—recorded by Brad Paisley.
In 2002, I was looking for a publishing deal. A publisher challenged me to write a song by myself—and he might sign me. I went home thinking about a song to write, and started writing “She’s Everything”—which is about Holly, my wife. It took me about two weeks to write the song, and he never signed me. (Laughs) But it all worked out. That song was pretty much a list of everything my wife was about, and hopefully every other woman in the world. It’s funny. When Chris DuBois told me Brad Paisley loved the song, he said he wanted to change a few words to make it more about his wife—if he was going to sing it in front of 20,000 people every night. I told Chris to tell Brad, “I don’t want him singing about my wife in front of that many people anyway—so change a few words and sing about your own dang wife.” (Laughs)

Version 2How did the idea of the George Strait cut “Round About Way” come to you?
I used to keep a list, and still do, of possible hooks. “Round About Way” was just a cliché that I had heard, and I wrote it down—thinking that might be a song idea. I got together with my buddy Steve Dean, and started writing the song. What was interesting is I had another melody from another song I’d been working on, and we ended up marrying that melody to our lyric.

How about the Joe Nichols cut “Cool to Be a Fool.”
It was just a little ditty I started singing one morning—going over to write with Steve Dean and Joe Nichols. When I got there, Joe wasn’t there yet. He was late, as usual. (Laughs) Steve had to go to the post office, and we literally wrote the chorus on the trip to the post office and back. I remember we were trying to write a modern day “Act Naturally,” the old Johnny Russell song—about being a star, being lonesome and being a fool. Joe finally showed up and we wrote the verses, and he ended up putting it on his first record.

Tell us one experience where something unique inspired you to write a song.
I get a lot of song ideas sitting in church—listening to our pastor talk. On one particular Sunday, he said something I thought was a good song idea. He said, “I don’t have to go to church—I get to.” It’s probably one of my favorite songs I’ve written to date. I wrote it with my good friend Steve Williams and Sherrié Austin. Yes, we wrote the song “I Get To”—from an idea I got in church. (Laughs) Ironically enough, it went on to be nominated for a Dove Award. It became the theme song at our church. It was pretty cool. An amazing version was recorded by Jeff & Sheri Easter, also The Gaither Trio, Blue County and other artists.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Always keep your antenna up—looking for great song ideas. Stay real to what God put in you—as a songwriter. In other words: be yourself. On good days, I’m a songwriter. On other days, I’m a song maker. What I mean by that is my best songs are songs about real life—that I see. I just write them down—that’s a whole lot easier than trying to make up something.

Wil Nance-7Who inspired you to write songs?
Just listening to great songs, written by great songwriters, inspired me. Some of the artists I mentioned previously, plus guys like Jim Croce—heard him when I was 14 or 15 years old. He was way ahead of his time—especially with his lyrics and the pictures he painted. (Sings: Oh rapid Roy that stock car boy, he too much to believe … He got a tattoo on his arm that say baby, he got another one that just say hey …  He do a hundred thirty mile an hour, smilin’ at the camera). When I first heard that, I said what the heck—this was real stuff. (Laughs) I’m a big lyrics guy. I just love good lyrics. I listened to great writers. Tom T. Hall with “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine”—that’s a great storyteller. I read an interview where he said, “Write what you see.” Back in St. Louis, Missouri, I was in a band in my early 20s called the Zane Grey Band. My brother played bass, and we had a couple a good songwriters. It was my first taste of doing original songs. Once that gets in your blood, it’s all over. (Laughs)

What instrument/equipment can you not live without—that helps you write, record or perform?
I write mainly on guitar. I also play some mandolin and fiddle. I think picking up a different instrument from time to time makes you think different, so that’s a good idea.

I have an old 1931 Martin parlor guitar that I like to play when I write songs. When I play out, I play a Takamine. It sounds good. I know a Takamine is going to sound good when I plug it in. They’re a strong work horse. I’ve used Elixir strings more than anything, but I use D’Addarios too. I’ve been using a Kyser capo for a long time, and lately I’ve been using a Shubb. I like the way they press down on the strings, and the guitar stays in tune longer.

What PRO are you with?
I am with BMI, and they do a good job of collecting my money.

Top 5 Songwriters who inspired you to become a songwriter?
Roger Miller, Tom T. Hall, Jim Croce, Billy Joel, Merle Haggard, Dean Dillon—too many to mention, but great songs inspire me.

Top 5 favorite albums?
Albums by the guys above, plus I grew up on a lot of Southern rock—Commander Cody, Pure Prairie League, Marshall Tucker Band—bands like that.

Tell us a “pinch me” moment—a time you thought, “Wow, this is really happening to me!”
It was when I finally got to write with Dean Dillon—the great songwriter who wrote all the George Strait songs. I moved to Nashville 20 years earlier—to write with Dean, and it was finally happening. Ironically enough, the first song we wrote “If Heartaches Were Horses” got cut by George Strait. (Laughs)

Wil Nance-8 - with wifeDo you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
It was George Strait’s “Round About Way”—and I felt pretty dang good.

Tell us a little about your first cut by a major artist?
My first major label cut was “Where Do I Go From Her” on Mercury Records by a guy named Jeff Chance. It was produced by Harold Shedd (Alabama, Kentucky HeadHunters). It was my first taste of how things work. That song was written in half-time (sings: Where do I go from her?)—like a big old ballad. They played the verses in half time, and they go to the chorus, and the drums go straight time. Hey, they don’t always turn out like you want them to. But Harold knows what he was doing. I was so happy to get it. I was in Nashville for only five years when that happened. And my second major label cut was George Strait “Round About Way” on the 1997 Carrying Your Love with Me record. I’d been in town about 8.5 years when that happened. It was the 4th single from that record. So I was actually in town for 10 years before I got my first big single on the radio.

Was Shania Twain singing background on the Jeff Chance record?
Yes. She was at Mercury Records, and she was tied in with Harold Shedd—around 1992 when Jeff cut my song. Shania was hanging around in the same building where I was writing songs—Fireside Recording. Norro Wilson had a room in that same building and produced her first record.

Was there someone who cut your song—and did a better version than you envisioned?
Mo Pitney did an amazing version of “Clean Up on Aisle Five” at the Opry—that’s killer. He got a standing ovation. Not sure why they didn’t single that song. He just sings the heck out of the song—his whole interpretation and the tone of his voice. I had a George Strait cut, “Where Have I Been All My Life,” on the 2009 Twang record. Great song. One of my favorite songs I’ve been a part of. Great vocal. He sings the dog out of it. George did a great job on that song. But when Mo Pitney did “Aisle Five”—that blew everything else away. He made me so proud of that song.

Wil Nance-9Best advice someone has given you.
The best advice a songwriter has ever given me was by the great Harlan Howard: “I Go To Pieces” (Patsy Cline) and “Busted” (Ray Charles). He said, “You’re trying to be a songwriter, kid—get divorced a couple of times.” So I got divorced, and George Strait cut my song. Just kidding. (Laughs) That’s what happened, but I don’t suggest that. I remember he told me, “If you like writing shuffles, write shuffles. Even if they aren’t popular now, they will be again one day—and you’ll be the shuffle king.” (Laughs) In other words, like I said before—stay true to yourself.

What’s next?
I’m still trying to write my next best song.

Until then, any local gigs?
There’s a nice event here in Nashville on September 25 called Songwriters Singing for Coffee—at the Green Hills Starbucks. It features Brian White, Pete Sallis, Greg Friia, Carly Tefft and yours truly.

Where can your new fans get more info and stay updated?
I don’t have a website, but I think I should try to do that sometime soon. People can always contact me on Facebook, and other social media.

Wil Nance

comment closed

Copyright © 2017 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·