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  • Writer's pictureFollow Your Arrow UK

Songwriters 1- McAnally and McKenna

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

This week I'm talking about the people behind our favourite songs but I'm going to split this into different posts across my blog over the next few months as there are too many great people out there to talk about and I've only discovered a handful of them.

As many of you will know, many of our favourite songwriters and artists are protesting to Congress urging them to pass the first music copyright reform law so that songwriters will be paid adequately for their music and will not be underpaid. This has been supported by Smokey Robinson and John Kear back in May to Congress and it still continues to evolve with many songwriters and artists following suit and uniting in their efforts.

So let's talk about two of my favourite songwriters that I've discovered so far. When I went to Country 2 Country in London in 2016, I attended the songwriters series with Lori McKenna, Shane McAnally, Ashley Monroe, Charlie Worsham and Charles Esten with a special guest appearance from Miranda Lambert. There's so many people to cover but today I'm talking about Shane and Lori.

CMA Songwriters, London 2016
CMA Songwriters, London 2016

Shane McAnally

I've been following Shane McAnally on Instagram for a number of years now, his life is very entertaining especially following the antics of his twins who need their own social media channels and will no doubt be stars in their own right. Shane McAnally is great fun to listen to and I'd love to be invited to a party at his house as you're guaranteed to have a good time. The great thing about Shane is the huge variety of songs he's written and co-written. Every feeling, every type of emotion has been covered and that's why he's one of the best songwriters Nashville has to offer.

You can only start to look through the list and the amount of hits he's had is unbelievable. He has written with so many artists, it's hard to think who is missing from the list. One of the main reasons I like Shane is because he truly understands the genre of country and is willing to try new things and supports artists who aren't traditional such as Walker Hayes, Midland, Sam Hunt and Kacey Musgraves to name a few. I am very pleased he pushes the boundaries of what country music is and what people try to define it to be.

Miranda Lambert and Shane McAnally
Miranda Lambert and Shane McAnally

Some of my favourite songs have been written by Shane, Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves, most notably "Mama's Broken Heart" which was given to Miranda Lambert. I have heard that Kacey wanted to keep it and her version of the song is brilliant but I'm happy Miranda did it justice. Apparently, it's inspired by Shane's sister Tiffany and I think many women can relate to it. When I listen to it I feel empowered and makes me feel like I'm not going to take any crap from anyone. Another favourite by the magic three is "Follow Your Arrow" which inspired the name of this blog, again this song is very empowering, this song made me realise that I was in charge of my own future and could follow where my instinct led. It gave me the courage two years ago to go it alone and move from the UK to Australia. It's songs like these that gets me through the happiest and most challenging times in my life.

Another great song by Shane, Brandy and Matt Jenkins is "Stripes" a fantastic story that is told, it's funny because it really does sum up how you feel when you've been cheated on. Digging a little deeper "Somebody Else's Heart" with busbee and Lady Antebellum is one of the most heart wrenching songs out there and got me through a breakup a couple of years ago. It's sometimes hard to hear as it really strikes a cord with me. There's so many songs to mention that I love and I cannot praise Shane McAnally enough. You would have heard many of his songs before but you may not know the man behind the music as well as the other amazing songwriters on our favourite songs.

Lori McKenna

I'm so happy that Lori McKenna continues to release her own music as an artist as well as a songwriter and her popularity is growing in the UK as I absolutely love her songs. As I said, I first saw Lori at C2C 2016 and I hadn't heard of her but she brought me to tears three times during her performances there and I was also lucky enough to meet her. When I first heard her sing "Humble and Kind", it struck a chord within me as it does many people. It was the line "Visit Grandpa every chance you can, it won't be wasted time". My Grandad who I am very close to has been suffering from two forms of dementia over the last three years and it's very hard to see the man who was once so strong and clever reduced to someone that needs a lot of care. However, this song reminded me of the way I was brought up and needing to stay grounded and not wander off and lose myself in my own selfish behaviour. I think this may be my favourite song I've ever heard and it still resonates with me. Tim McGraw has covered the song very well but it's Lori's performance that I love the most.

Lori McKenna
Meeting Lori McKenna

I have to talk about "Girl Crush", how can I not? Written by Lori, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose which caused so much controversy at the time and inspired so many people to stand up for it. Many people didn't understand the meaning of the song but if you listen to it I thinking the meaning is clear. For me, I felt liked it summed up the jealousy I was feeling about someone who I loved and another girl who it seemed loved him as well. I knew exactly where the song came from and I'm so happy that it was such a hit and Little Big Town did an amazing job with it.

I have to talk about Lori's latest album 'The Tree' and draw attention to "People Get Old" and "Happy People" two more great songs as well where Lori McKenna can relate every day things and make you think about them in a whole new way and bring you back to your roots, it's all about the little things that makes up a life.

Sammi x

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