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Brantley Gilbert, Sugarland's Kristian Bush and top Music Row songwriters Brett James and Bob DiPiero kept the music—and the stories—flowing at the CMA Songwriters Series event at Marathon Music Works in Nashville Wednesday night (Oct. 31). The Songwriters Series features country's top artists and writers performing some of their best-known tunes and telling the stories behind them, similar to the "writers nights" held in Nashville clubs.
Brantley drew laughs from the packed house as he related the story behind his hit "Country Must Be Country Wide." Georgia native Brantley recalled that the idea came from traveling to different parts of the country, mainly with Toby Keith. A visit to New York proved especially eye-opening. "I always thought that only Yankees lived in New York," Brantley said. "But I think there were more rednecks there than there are in Georgia." Brantley also performed his hit "You Don't Know Her Like I Do."
Kristian Bush shared the story behind Sugarland's debut hit, "Baby Girl," and also played new material, which he noted may end up with Sugarland. "Or it might not," he noted with a laugh. Brett James performed "Cowboy Casanova," which he co-wrote for Carrie Underwood, among other songs. Bob DiPiero shared the story behind his No. 1 song for George Strait, "Blue Clear Sky."
Before the show, Kristian told Country Weekly about his mistaken first impressions of what a typical writers night was. Kristian was living in Atlanta and he and his fellow writers would hear about the Music City writers nights. "But we didn't get all the information. They left out some of the details," Kristian recalled. "We thought you were supposed to learn the other writers' songs after the first chorus. So you were onstage and you had your instrument and you were trying to learn the other guy's song as fast as you could and then play along and make it better." Kristian later realized that he had the system a little backward. He added that he has become a better writer since working with some of Nashville's top tunesmiths. "It only takes me a couple hours to finish one now," he noted.
Read more about Kristian and what's next for Sugarland in the Nov. 19 issue of Country Weekly, on stands Nov. 12.