Exclusive: JD Clayton Reflects on Writing His Sage New Single “High Hopes & Low Expectations” with Kendell Marvel

Today, country singer/songwriter JD Clayton released “High Hopes & Low Expectations,” his first new single of 2024. While the Arkansas native usually writes his music alone, he stepped a little out of his comfort zone and enlisted a cowriter for this one. He penned the song with fellow country singer/songwriter Kendell Marvel.

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The song tells the story of a young man who thinks he has life figured. Then, he meets a man who is older and wiser in a bar and learns valuable life lessons over a few drinks. Earlier this week, Clayton sat down with American Songwriter to talk about “High Hopes & Low Expectations.” During the brief chat, he discussed co-writing with Marvel, what the song means to him, and more.

JD Clayton Reflects on “High Hopes & Low Expectations”

“This is a new one for me in a lot of ways,” Clayton said of the track. “I don’t get to co-write very often. So, when I do, if I decide I’m going to cut it and put it out, it’s pretty special. This one hit me pretty hard. I wrote it with Kendell Marvel.”

Clayton went on to say he met Marvel while playing shows. While fronting Kendell Marvel’s Honky Tonk Experience, the older artist invited Clayton to join him onstage to play songs during a set at Nashville’s Exit/In and a set at Bonnaroo. “He was kind enough to invite me up for those and we built a relationship,” Clayton said. “Eventually, it was like, ‘Man, let’s get together and write one.’ So, we got together at his place in Nashville. It was kind of chill and we weren’t sure if anything was going to come of it. But, we probably [finished the song] in a couple of hours.”

Clayton recalled that Marvel had the title already and he just “kind of ran with it.” He built the song’s narrative in his mind as they went along. However, he didn’t realize until months later that he was living out the lyrics as they wrote it.

“It wasn’t until just recently that I kind of realized that the song was being fleshed out right in front of us. I was sitting there with Kendell, he’s older and wiser and has been a songwriter for a lot longer,” he said. “The song is about a guy who thinks he has it figured out and is going to chase his dreams and, in doing so, he meets an older gentleman who imparts some wisdom to him. It’s just funny because that’s what Kendell was doing for me in that moment.”

Clayton added, “I don’t even think Kendell realizes what he’s done for me in the little bit of time that we’ve known each other.”

“High Hopes & Low Expectations” is available to stream everywhere today.

Featured Image by Jesse DeFlorio

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