A middle-aged man in a cowboy hat, jeans and sneakers started plucking out a few notes on his guitar and then sang out lyrics that seemed like an old favorite for him:
“You may think that I’m talkin’ foolish
You’ve heard that I’m wild and I’m free …”
My jaw dropped. It was a random August weeknight in Nashville, Tennessee, and we had chanced upon a small event at a place called The Listening Room. Just six people sitting on stools on a bare stage, four guitar players, a harmonica. But when the verse gave way to the chorus, everyone at my table realized we had hit on something incredible:
“I’m gonna love you forever
Forever and ever amen …”
At that point my friend J. turned around with his mouth open in amazement, too. At that point Ron recognized the familiar song as one that happens to be a tune that Ron and I sort of claim as “our song.” I patted his arm across our table, and we exchanged a look. Probably everyone in the room who was old enough had heard this one at a wedding. Nashville is a magical spot.
It was Paul Overstreet, a singer and songwriter who has had an illustrious and industrious career, strumming up hits for multiple big-name stars and penning lyrics that stay etched in people’s minds and make lists of favorites.
“It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word, you can light up the dark
Try as I may I can never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing
The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best, when you say nothing at all …”
Use some of these lines in your next love note and its sure to be a hit! A version of this song ended up on the soundtrack of one of my favorite romantic comedy films, Notting Hill. Also old, I know, however, Overstreet has also penned newer hits that include more of his sense of humor and delight with being crass. “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” made Kenny Chesney a hit.
And Overstreet’s daughter Summer has taken up the family baton of clever and trashy lyrics with new songs of her own, including a hilarious ditty about dodging a mullet.
We also heard from Jenna Paulette, a fantastic lyricist from Texas, and Heidi Newfield, who has a notable career of her own. For about $20 not only did we stumble onto this treasure trove of artists, but we also got to hear them tell us the stories of how their songs were created. I found myself as enthralled as I had been spotting sea birds in Florida.
I was so thankful that instead of heading straight back to Colorado, we had decided to stopover in Nashville for a few days with good friends, good music, and a city that never misses a beat.
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