Q&A: Chris Young On Songwriting

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Country music superstar Chris Young, the Dream Co-Write for our 2011 Lyric Contest Grand Prize winner Bill DiLuigi, discusses his approach to songwriting, and what he considers the perfect song. Enter the latest Lyric Contest here for your chance to win a Dream Co-Write.

Watch the Video of DiLuigi and Young’s Co-Writing Session

How old were you when you first started writing songs?

I got kind of a late start writing songs. While I might have written some lyrics down, the first song I ever wrote and finished was when I was 13. From there my songwriting grew over time.

Who are some artists that inspired you to start writing?

Growing up, I would always look at the liner notes in CDs to see who wrote what songs. Keith Whitley was and is one of my favorite artists, and Alan Jackson is to me the quintessential singer/songwriter in country music.

What’s a song on Neon you’re especially proud of?

I’m really proud of the song “Tomorrow” that I wrote with Frank Myers and Anthony Smith. It was the first time that we wrote a song, finished it and knew without a doubt it would be the first single we’d release from the new album.

What do you look for in a co-writer?

I don’t have any reservations about who I will or won’t write with because you never know when the combination is going to be perfect. Generally I like writing with someone who I can sit around and talk with and have fun with for the first 30 or so minutes, where we stumble on an idea and see what comes of it.

What’s a lyric on Neon you’re really into?

The lyric “Like a hymn in a cathedral hall, watchin’ April snow flakes fall” from the last track on Neon, “She’s Got This Thing About Her.” I wrote the song with Cory Batten and Kent Blazy.

Do you revise a lot, or do you like to write automatically?

Well, every song is different but I don’t revise very often. ‘Voices,’ which I wrote with Chris Tompkins and Craig Wiseman, is one that got revised quite a bit but it ended up being a good thing since the song became my third #1 single and broke a 25-year Billboard chart record.

What’s a song of yours that’s really touched people?

I’ve heard from a lot of people how the lyric and message of “Voices” has really had an impact.

What advice do you have for aspiring songwriters?

If you’re wanting to become a songwriter, start writing as early and as often as possible.

What do you consider to be the perfect song?

I love how Kenny Chesney’s “The Good Stuff” unfolds. The melody and how the story is crafted, it all goes places you wouldn’t expect. It’s an extremely well written song in all aspects, top to bottom.


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