2nd Place | “Paint-By-Number Country Song”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

2nd Place
March/April 2012
“Paint-By-Number Country Song”
Gary Reynolds
Edmond, West Virginia

I had a dream, late last night, as clear as clear could be
I dreamed The Man In Black himself came down to visit me
I was tryin’ to write a big ‘ol hit, but I’d hit a big brick wall
Then Johnny said “Don’t sweat it, son – you’re tryin’ too hard is all
This song’s too good for radio today
Just start again, and fill that pad with country-fried clichés

“You gotta write about mud flaps, cold Pabst
And miles of red dirt road
And good ol’ boys in their jacked-up pickup trucks
Have ‘em party ‘round a bonfire way back in the woods
Son, you take my advice, you won’t go wrong
Just aim to write the perfect Paint-By-Number Country Song

Then Johnny said, “Back in my day, my audience was men
But it’s a female demographic now, and ya gotta write for them
The songs that keep ‘em tuned in while they’re drivin’ home from work
Are the kind o’ songs where the guy admits he’s been a total jerk
Where the gals are tough as nails and strong as steel
And the men are good with sippie cups, and ain’t afraid to feel

“They wanna hear about romance, big plans
But when the bastard does her wrong
They want to cheer her on as she gets her sweet revenge
So leave him shrinkin’ in her rearview as her tail lights disappear
In tears and wonderin’ if he can go on
And watch the stations play your Paint-By-Number Country Song

“It’s real simple: on the fast ones
Make the guy a real man’s man
But buddy, on the ballads
Make him drive a mini-van
And here’s a writin’ tip that you can take straight to the bank
It never hurts if you insert my name, Hag’s, or Hank’s

“You gotta talk about tailgates, first dates
And tires three feet tall
Put a Copenhagen cup there on the seat
Make sure his tractor’s sexy
Make sure she’s got a pair …
And I promise you, old son, it won’t be long
Till someone drops YOUR name into a Paint-By-Number Country Song”

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