“I’m about to go insane,” says Dillon Carmichael. “I’m having dreams about playing on stage. That’s when you know it’s bad.” Aside from fishing down the road and growing his own vegetables, Carmichael has been experiencing the enclosure of the recent pandemic lockdown. Most of all, he just wants to get back on stage.
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“I feel kind of like I was when you’re starting out and you’re like ‘I can’t wait to have my own band and go on tour or get on stage,’” he tells American Songwriter. “I feel like that right now. I’m back in the beginning when I didn’t have none of that. I just want to play music. I just want to play shows.”
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Carmichael was already writing and recording new material, following up to his 2018 debut Hell on an Angel. In 2019, Carmichael released several new singles, including “I Do For You” and “99 Problems (Fish Ain’t One)” and is offering up his latest single “Country Boy Lovin” his first new music in 2020, “Country Boy Lovin.’” The lighthearted track is just what people need during these tumultuous times—and a departure from Carmichael’s typically denser balladry.
“I’ve always been the songwriter that gravitates a little bit towards more heartfelt heavy ballads,” says Carmichael. “So I’ve made it a goal in the past couple of years to really just try to get to all ends of the spectrum in songs.”
Initially Carmichael met up with co-writers Adam Craig for breakfast but the two ended up having some cold beers instead, which was the beginning of “Country Boy Lovin’.”
“We just kinda sat around and drank a couple beers, cracked jokes and just forgot about writing for a second,” says Carmichael. “We were laughing so hard and having such a great time that when we got in the writing room, it just all came out.”
Craig had a portion of the melody in place, and Carmichael was stuck on the “country boy” hook. As they tried to figure out what the song meant, it was simple. “I might not be able to afford to take you to the nicest restaurant or whatever,” says Carmichael. “But I sure can lay you down like Conway Twitty on a haystack under the stars.’
The track, also co-written with Thomas Archer, is the first of many Carmichael has tucked away, leading up to his second album later this year with a possible release in September.
Carmichael doesn’t struggle with the writing process too much, but says he’s learned how to bring the melodies and lyrics together better. “If it’s something that speaks to me, I execute it, and I proceed,” he says. “Later on when I listen back to what I wrote, I either like it or I don’t, or other people like it or they don’t. I might write 10 horrible songs, and then there’s one great one.”
A firm believer that sometimes a song that’s written in an hour can come out better than one that’s been slaved over for months, when Carmichael recently wrote a song for Travis Tritt, it just flowed out. By the end of their session, they produced two songs.
“I really get excited when it kind of just flows though and comes out like that real fast,” says Carmichael. “You wrote a great song, and you can write another.”
Country singer-songwriter Brett James once told Carmichael that even though he’s had more than 20 No. 1 hits and has been writing for 30 years or so, he still feels like he has no idea what he’s doing. It’s this constant push and pull, learning, and evolvement of writing that fascinates Carmichael most—and what he believes makes a songwriter great.
“I haven’t done it that long, and I definitely haven’t had any number ones, but I relate,” jokes Carmichael. “I’ve been doing this now for like 10 years, and I have no idea what I’m doing.”