Writer’s Room: Seeing the Song by Brett Tyler

Written by Brett Tyler

Videos by American Songwriter

I’ve always liked story songs. A lot of times if I can paint that with words, it’s a little easier. My approach to writing the song is I want it to feel real, and I want it to be believable and genuine. Whether they make a music video for it or not, I want to visualize it myself, because it helps me grab details. I think we’re writing the screenplay for a music video instead of trying to write the song.

“Wild as Her,” recorded by Corey Kent
(Written by Brett Tyler, Kelly Archer and Morgan Wallen)

A song like “Wild as Her,” I see them driving down the road. Is it a desert or is it the countryside? Or is it in the snowy mountains? That song was the desert for me for some reason. It made me want to use those dusty colors and different words and language that you put around it because it feels like it fits the scenery. 

There’s a little bit of recklessness and freedom in that song. If you can capture that emotion and the right picture for it, I think you can start painting with those words. It really helps bring it to life more.

It was Kelly Archer’s idea. It felt like a young rock ‘n’ roll couple driving through Joshua Tree. That freedom and being in love, but also two people being themselves and doing their thing. I also think from the hook standpoint of she’s looking for somebody as wild as her, it really paints that Penny Lane character. It’s giving her the moment and she’s the one who’s really driving this thing.

“Build Me a Daddy,” recorded by Luke Bryan
(Written by Brett Tyler, Josh Thompson and Jake Mitchell)

There’s an author that I really love named Rick Bragg. I watched this interview on YouTube and he was talking about a book that he wrote called Ava’s Man. It was about his grandfather, and he never met his grandfather. He was basically putting together this book based on other people’s stories. In the interview, he said, “It was like I was trying to build my grandfather from the stories of people in town who grew up with him.” Sometimes an idea hits you like that, and it makes you think of something else. It made me think about a child’s perspective of missing his dad.

I could see the scene in my head even before I wrote it. I pictured a kid going into this store and asking this toymaker to build him his dad because he’s gone. I could see the scene in that movie, where something like that would happen. It gave me the language for the kid. A kid uses language like, “Make him 10 feet tall. Make him like Superman,” because that’s how a kid would describe his dad. It was fun to get into the character and the mindset of a child. It helped paint that song.

The line that always gets me is on the second verse. He said when I got older / We could work on that curveball / I know he’d never wanna miss a game. I remember zooming out and being like, “Let’s get back to the kid talking to the toymaker.” When he says and here’s a little money that I saved it ruined me. He saved up some money to have a toymaker bring his dad back. That line always slays me.

“Cold Beer Calling My Name,” recorded by Jameson Rodgers and Luke Combs
(Written by Brett Tyler, Alysa Vanderheym, Hunter Phelps, Jameson Rodgers)

I think we got together three times and wrote “Cold Beer Calling My Name” because we wanted it to not be about beer. If you listen to it, it’s not actually about beer. My favorite line, I think Jameson threw out the line right before the hook: It’s been a pretty damn good day, and there’s a cold beer calling my name

I just felt like, “How do we take an everyman going through work, getting off, having something on the horizon, meeting up with some friends, enjoying life, and make it different enough?” Let’s challenge ourselves and try to make it more interesting and use different colors. For me, I pictured the guy getting off work. It’s Friday, he’s gassing up his car, maybe grabbing a six-pack, wiping off the windshield, and then he’s getting in the car and letting Friday night take him wherever it goes. It’s that small-town setting.

When I lived in northern Minnesota, I lived in this little town called Motley. To me, for some reason, it was that little local gas station. I pictured some version of that, where it’s a town of less than 1,000 people and the Dairy Queen is the nicest restaurant. I think that’s so much of the country audience too. Having spent time there and living there myself, too, I have such great memories of doing the same exact thing.

(Photo Credit: Mick Bodie)

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