The key to reconnecting with songwriting for Hayes Carll is to remind yourself to be in the moment.
After struggling with his mental health for three to four years, Carll reminds himself that his ability to “get the work done” hinges on letting go of control. In the process of writing his most recent albums (You Get It All in 2021 and What It Is in 2019), Carll found a rejuvenated motivation to simply put pen to paper.
“I relied on inspiration so much when I was younger,” Carll tells American Songwriter. “I just thought, that’s what you did. Whether it was Townes or Dylan or whoever, I just thought you just opened yourself up to the gods with drugs or alcohol or whatever crazy life experiences. And then these words magically fall out. And every once in a while, that’s true.”
The reflection and the desire to come to terms with this part of himself are evident on the title track of his 2021 album You Get It All. The heartwarming track offers a reflection and a mantra of itself—to come as you are and not beat yourself up about it.
All my faults and all my scars
All my sometimes lucky stars
All my joys and my regrets
All my old Guy Clark cassettes
All my lows and all my highs
All my truth and all my lies
All my rights and all my wrongs
All my ‘From now on’ love songs
All my future all my roots
All my worn out cowboy boots
I kick off in the hall, you get it all
Carll takes the good with the bad and has found a way to grow from even his worst regrets.
“There’s something to be said about your limitations being an asset. And for me, I think they have been,” Carll says.
This change of perspective freed Carll from the obstacles of his inner critic. He says now that he’s older, he’s able to better focus on the craft of songwriting more than fleeting sparks of inspiration.
“I think that the change of emphasis on the craft is a result of growing older,” he reflected. “I didn’t want to keep being unsatisfied with writing about the same things or putting the same level of effort into it. It’s more meaningful now.”
Carll is currently part of a tour that is set to begin on April 8 in Dallas, Texas, at the Majestic Theatre. The tour will continue through early May. Click here for tickets.
To return to his roots of playing cover songs, Carll recently released a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” with The Band of Heathens. Listen to the cover below.