Terry McBride is “Callin’ All Hearts” With an Alert and a New Album

When a songwriter like Terry McBride calls for one’s attention, it might be best to heed those exclamations and listen, especially if the reason in question revolves around some solid new music and a bit of advice for the relationship-troubled out there. After all, a musician like McBride has come to know the ins and outs of the mainstream country scenes of places like Texas and Nashville, as well as many of the folks within them, over the span of his multi-decade career. Such commitment to the community has certainly earned him more than his fair share of respectability and credit when it comes to musicianship and writing about matters of the heart.

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These things in mind, there’s plenty to learn from McBride through his latest single, “Callin’ All Hearts,” which kicks off the countdown to a new solo album, Rebels & Angels, due out later this year. Straightaway, the story behind McBride’s latest track sounds widely relatable enough: A woman cuts and runs on a man who thought everything was going just fine, leaving him with a broken heart and nothing left to do but warn everyone he knows his that fleeing flame is out and about. However, the first takeaway lesson behind “Callin’ All Hearts” isn’t one of immediate life-imitating-art so much as it’s a personality-fueled snapshot of the creative treasure trove lining McBride’s firmly rooted songwriting history.

“Well, you know as a writer, songs get started in so many different ways,” says McBride.

“I mean, it could be a title, or a guitar lick, or a hook, or whatever, and that’s kind of where this song started for me,” he says. “I just had that title, (“Callin’ All Hearts,” and) I liked it. It was kind of a playoff of like––there used to be a saying like in ‘Calling all cars,’ you know? Like a police report or something. Anyway, that stuck in my head. I just kind of like the play on words so instead it was ‘Callin’ All Hearts.’ And then it’s just started with that hook, and then we had to build something around it,” McBride says.

“So with any songs like this,” he explains, “I sort of just pull from my experience in the past, things that I like musically, songs that I grew up on, or were influenced by. And that’s kind of what this song is. It’s sort of a combination of storylines. I sort of like this character and that he’s been sort of jilted or whatever by someone you know. And then he puts out a warning to everybody else to be on the lookout for this gal because she might do the same thing to you. I just like songs like that and sort of weave their way into some sort of little story you know?” says McBride. “He’s obviously some sort of victim; he has been hurt and brokenhearted by this woman but it’s just a clever way of sort of getting that point across.”

It would far too predictable (though perhaps amusingly so since it would line up with the short-lived nature of the relationship in the song,) to believe that McBride’s comfort and ease of navigation around crafting a word play-inspired title or an emotionally spicy narrative, was as sophisticated as “Callin’ All Hearts” would get. Though the finished project is the only part of the process the public audience tends to hear and experience, under the hood of McBride’s heart-shaped alarm are a slew of subtle moments that set the fire of the song ablaze from what to some, could look like the most minimal of creative fragments.

“The song came together in a cool kind of way through my producer, Luke Laird,” McBride says.

“He has a wide variety of skills that he uses constantly, depending on the artist he’s writing with. So, that the (first) day (we wrote together) he had sampled that little fiddle part (in the song) – that little lick at the top. It wasn’t even a real fiddle. But the way he put it together, you could tell it could be a cool little fiddle part. And that kind of got us started; that’s really as simple as it is. I had the hook, (Luke) had the fiddle lick, and that kind of got us in the direction that the song ended up taking,” he says.

“We went through two or three little ideas that (Luke) had, because there’s a producer-programming type of guy that he can be. He also would just pick up the guitar and play something wonderful too but, he likes to have little ideas to throw at you and then see if there’s anything you like. And I just wanted that little fiddle part. I had no idea what we were doing, but I thought already, ‘That caught my ear my attention. So let’s try that.’ So then Jenee Fleenor came in later – a fantastic session musician – and she just sort of captured and recreated the (fiddle) idea that we had and then took it to the next level,” says McBride.

Listening to McBride walk back through the piece by piece assembly process of the creative sparks that lit “Callin’ All Hearts” is certainly informative from an outward perspective. All the same, even for the songwriter himself, actively thinking back made subtle strengths of the song shine through all over again for him as well.

“I like that (the arrangement) is a little bit (dynamically) understated. I hadn’t really thought about that. But I do like that. It’s not just in your face, it sort of has somewhere to go dynamically, it builds a little bit in that chorus and the verses are a little more understated, which is kind of cool,” McBride says.

The sense of renewed enthusiasm over smaller details within the individual song speak to McBride’s innate ability to find joy in every facet of the songwriting process – a character trait that shouldn’t be undervalued when one has been actively writing not just for himself but for a variety of other artists over the course of many years and revolving musical trends. Not one to take the purity of his own self-realizations for granted, McBride often steps back internally to note the road on which he’s been and how his role among the music community overall – as well as the community within Nashville itself – has steadily changed, and not just because he’s gained famed and accolades over time.

“As long as I’ve been around, as many songs I’ve written, sometimes just getting to a place that I haven’t been before, you know? (That’s the hardest part.) It’s a tough one. Even titles and melodies, you can, you know, hang on to the things that worked in the past (and) maybe hang on to them a little too long,” says McBride.

“That’s where my career has really become a big part of working with songwriters and artists that are, gosh, half my age at least, you know, if not, you know, still in their 20s,” he says. “I’m 61 now, which is shocking every time I say it and it’s hard to believe. But you know, I’m just fortunate to still be doing what I’ve always set out to do and love to do. So, I’ve embraced sort of who I am and where I’m at, and then also continued to be open-minded enough to bring in a new way of thinking and writing. These younger artists have sort of supplied that and kept it and made it interesting for me,” McBride explains.

Of course, McBride doesn’t just talk to the talk of his hard-earned wisdom. The esteemed musician puts up no barriers between himself and any up-and-coming artists whose passions seek out and resonate with his own, leaving himself open to people or opportunities that might bring generations of Nashville artists together – noting along the way that there has been some degree of a shift in the community’s attitude, though not among the majority.

“I’ve lived and done all this stuff a lot of these young guys want to do,” he continues. “So, if (younger artists) are truly interested in what they’re doing and how to move forward, I’m only here to help, you know? Personally as well as just creatively, you know, I mean, I have a wealth of experience, whether it’s from touring, recording, dealing with publishing, you know, there’s so many facets and sides of this business. And I’ve experienced it all. And I’ve tried to educate myself on all of it along the way as I’ve moved forward,” he says.

“Sometimes (though),” McBride continues. “I see there’s a lack of (respect). It’s just disappointing. Not often, but occasionally. I looked up to my grandparents, my grandfather was a big influence. So I had a lot of respect for older people  – especially just the wisdom and you know, they seem to have about a lot of things in life. So it’s interesting that I’m on this other side of (the music-making process) and being the older person, it’s a little shocking. But like I said, I still enjoying being involved in (music-making). So it’s a good time for me.”

Understanding that the flow of time waits on no one, McBride’s outlook toward the inevitability of change come across like a breath of air, if for no other reason than the excess of change dealt to musicians after the arrival of the pandemic forced an evaluation of nearly every facet of the industry’s ingrained processes and norms for both artists and fans. Given the rather pre-socially distant setting of “Callin’ All Hearts’” bulletin at the local bar narrative and McBride’s open willingness to embrace new things, people, and lessons, it’s hard not to wonder if someone of his creative range might start a trend of country songs written to reflect the new real world settings of healing and heartbreak from at least six feet away down the bar.

“That’s an interesting observation. Because I mean, honestly, if you’re gonna write something real…” McBride says as he starts to contemplate the current expectations of songs against the possibilities of the future.

“I think people will always fantasize about, and always sort of see themselves in (familiar) situations, whether (they are) physically happening or not,” he says. “But that’s, you know, sort of like, Nashville (for example,) gets stuck in a rut of writing about the same thing for so long. All these, you know, parties and bonfires, and all this stuff is happening, whether anybody was doing it or not. (Songwriters) still seem to kind of like it, you know? I was shocked that it sort of went on for so long.

“It’s going to be interesting to see where this next generation want to take (music) and how they want to write about it,” says McBride. “How much of that picture (of life) do you want to paint if it doesn’t exist, you know? Yeah, I mean, and now, put it like that. I feel a little bit like, I’m thinking about the old ways. But, you know, I mean, we’re all sort of reimagining.”

Do yourself a favor and make sure that you pre-add/pre-save this tune from your favorite digital service.

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