“...I guess I never knew just what it was to need someone
To be in love...”
I’m back in Nashville, Tennessee for my second writing trip and I’m staying with one of my very best friends, Josh Willcutts, who lives in an apartment complex just round the corner from the Bluebird Cafe. Although we’ve only known each other for 10 months at this stage, in the limited time we’ve had together we’ve shared some incredible memories and connected on a level much deeper than you experience with most people. If Josh was a woman (...and I wasn’t still in the process of getting divorced) I probably would have proposed to him by this stage... but alas, life is a bitch sometimes!
A few nights before I was kindly asked to perform at a house concert in the basement of my buddy Billy Stonecipher’s house, an incredible night performing alongside some truly inspiring artists. One of them was a Belmont University graduate, Katie Ruvane, who I had met once before in passing. Tonight however, was the first time I had ever heard her perform live and I instantly knew that there was something different about her writing that I wanted to tap into with my own. Fast forward a few days and Katie, myself and Josh are sat in his living room ready to put pen to paper.
In many ways what has helped Josh and I to connect on such an intimate level is the fact that we are more alike as people than we would probably even like to admit. As songwriters we can both be exceptionally stubborn and strong headed, to the point where sometimes no compromise can be found at all. In one other writing session just a few months later I’m pretty sure he was almost ready to put me through the living room window after I passively dismissed one of his killer chorus melodies claiming that it could be stronger. Thankfully Katie is one of the most gentle and sweet yet assertive souls that you could probably ever meet, so at least that afternoon’s session had a decent mediator.
“...I can’t sleep when you occupy every corner inside my mind
Till I’m lonesome, lo-oh-oh-onesome...”
To Be In Love stemmed from a voice memo of mine titled ‘Lonesome’, containing a distinct Jason Mraz vibe and essentially outlining what went on to become the verse melody of the song. The night before I had been chatting to my then girlfriend on FaceTime for probably more than an hour, yet somehow the moment we hung up the call and I tried to get to sleep, my mind immediately started racing with thoughts of her and how I couldn’t wait to get back home to her. I lay awake on the sofa for hours that night, caught up in the sweet torture of my own thoughts...
It was a feeling that I couldn’t ever remember experiencing so vividly before, that sense of truly longing for someone, and so that was the feeling I was determined to capture this afternoon. Despite my instinctual tendency to butt heads with Josh at regular intervals, thankfully Katie’s presence and mediation helped the song come together pretty quickly and with relatively little pain. Throughout the course of the afternoon there were two moments that really stood out to me - the first being when we nailed the melody for the ‘yoo-oo-oo-woo-oo’ in the third line of the chorus and the second when we came up with it’s first two lines...
“...Yoo-oo-oo-ou, you’re the drug that takes me higher
Yoo-oo-oo-ou, the only heaven I see in my sky...”
I don’t intend this to sound in anyway egotistical, but in some ways I feel like this song ended up incorporating a lot of the things I love about my own writing style. I also feel as though I am often most drawn to the co-written songs that I haven’t had to compromise my instincts too much in order to help create. I guess it’s just another trait of my relatively selfish human nature!
Rather interestingly, at the time I can remember Josh telling me that he wasn’t blown away by the finished product but that he just thought it was OK. I on the other hand, immediately fell in the love with the song and had a fairly clear vision in my head as to how it would sound once the other musical elements would be added during production. Thankfully, after hearing the Farm House Session recording of it, Josh told me that he now really loves it, and bearing in mind that he is without doubt one of the harshest songwriting critics I know (...and the fact I love him so much I would almost marry him!), that’s a compliment that I’ll cherish for a long, long time.
Katie, on the other hand, has so far made no comment... which must mean she really hates it, right?!