Eric 2009/11/19 8:10am

Lately, between dates, Leigh and I have been co-writing with different Nashville writers whenever we can. It has been fun and we are excited with the songs. We are still writing on our own, but we decided to try stepping out of our comfort zone and see what would happen. So far this fall, we've penned songs with Tim O'Brien, Gary Nicholson, and Jon Weisberger. Not bad company, huh? I've always shied away from co-writing because I'm so stubborn about my songs. I have found that it's best to enter a session with a germ of an idea and not go in with a song half-done or so. If I'm married to an idea or a melody, I never like the song if it changes too much as a result of a co-write. If we all go in with an open mind, the creative process is so fun. It's also an education for us to see how different people write. We can't help but learn from these folks. We're not changing our style or anything; we're just honing what we do. 

The song we wrote with Tim could have gone in so many directions. Tim's mind works so quickly. I think the song is one of the best we've ever written, and we threw away pages of verses I thought were strong! Tim pushed us to get our very best. Gary came up with a chord progression I don't believe we'd have found on our own. We wrote an Orbison-esque song with him that I don't know if we'd ever be able to pull off as a bluegrass band, but we wrote it nonetheless. The song we wrote with Jon makes me think of the Stanley Brothers. New songs that sound old are hard to find. We are on a high from these sessions and look forward to more. I know on some days it's going to work and on others it won't. I do know that so far we've been inspired. It is exhausting to me. After a writing session, I feel like I did in sixth grade when I was put in a gifted math class. The class made me realize that I was no math scholar, that my work ethic yielded good grades. I would emerge from that math class fried, the high level math forcing me to focus for longer than was comfortable. Same feeling. I think the payoff is worth pushing myself. I want to develop the same approach to the songs I'm writing on my own. I have a tendency to say, "I'll finish it when I get around to it," thinking somehow a magic moment will present itself, the clouds will part, and a song with a golden glow will emerge from the notes I've scratched out. Once in a while it works that way, but I know I need to be more proactive, to hurt my brain a little more.