Matthew Francis Andersen: 2012 Grand Prize Winner
Co-write with Hayes Carll
Here’s what’s important about the American Songwriter Lyric Contest: it’s about writing. Work and a craft are involved. It doesn’t matter if your cowboy hat is crumpled, if you look like a model, or if your jeans are of the proper tightness. Heck, you can sit down in your underwear and work on your songs. And that’s exactly what I did.
I was living in Lima, Peru. As a Chicago native, I’d never been sweating in the month of February, but I welcomed the change. Unemployed, and living in a tiny cinderblock apartment, I sat in my boxer shorts with a bottle of wine and my mini Yamaha acoustic. Chicago winters came to mind and I wrote “Blue Line.”
Having won the contest I was in Nashville the following winter. My friend Jacob Jones put me in touch with Derek Hoke and I played a show at The 5 Spot in East Nashville. The next day I went to a publishing house to meet Hayes Carll. He with his J-45 and me with my Hummingbird (thanks, Gibson) we sat, and picked, and shared stories about John Prine, Paul Kennerley, John Evans, and our mutual friends. Hayes is a fun, laid back, experienced guy who continues to lend me advice.
My last day took place at Omni Sound Studios. I brought in an older song of mine and the musicians worked it up perfectly. It was intriguing to roam the studio halls lined with framed records by Jewel, Trace Adkins, Hank Jr., and the lanky spirit of Porter Wagoner strolling along behind me. Later, I had to wait a few extra minutes before my studio time began as we were waiting for Celebrity Apprentice John Rich to finish up. Apparently, he sings, too.
A snowstorm to the north cancelled my flight home to Chicago. This gave me some more time to take the advice of fellow contest winner, Ryan Tanner, and check out some places to eat.
Obviously, it’s great being noticed and rewarded for your work, but the most important part of the experience is still producing. My relationships with other writers in Nashville are important to me. They affect you internally and help to keep things going.