Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tin Pan South: Bob DiPiero and Other Songwriting Legends Delight Full House at 3rd and Lindsay

By Wil Comstock
Music City Arts Contributing Writer

Friday, March 31 -- First Show, 3rd and Lindsay
Bob Dipero, Jim Beavers, Lee Thomas Miller, and Ritchie McDonald

            I met industry photographer Bev Moser and her friend Carol standing in line for the first show on Tuesday at Whiskey Rhythm.  I sat with them on Wednesday at 3rd and Lindsay’s ASCAP show and again tonight. "That’s the great thing about music,” Carol said. “It brings people together.” The CMA songwriters on this this show certainly brought us all together, as we nodded out heads and sang along with these great songwriters.

            Bob DiPiero was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His first hit was the Oak Ridge Boy’s “American Made,” which became a jingle for Miller beer and Baby Ruth Candy bars --not a bad start! Bob rocked the house with his Shenandoah smash “Church on Cumberland Road,” a co-write with John Sherrill and Dennis Robbins. He turned it into a tribute to Chuck Berry, who recently died, by inserting a few lines of “Johnny B Good,” a real crowd pleaser. His next song was by the movie "Forrest Gump." In the film Bob explains, “Forrest talks about his girlfriend, Jenny, and how she would come and go out of his life. At one point, he says, 'And out of the blue clear sky, Jenny came back.' And I was listening, thinking, 'Hey! It’s clear blue sky, it’s not blue clear sky!' Just that little turn of phrase stuck in my head. The next day, I was writing with John Jarrard and Mark D. Sanders. I said, 'I have this idea: blue clear sky. And they said, 'Well, that’s backwards!' (Laughs) I said, 'I know that,' so we wrote it anyway! We demoed it, and about a month later, I got a phone call from Tony Brown. He said, 'I’m in the studio with George Strait, and we want to cut your song — but George has a question for you!' So George gets on the phone and says, 'I’m from Texas … and in Texas it’s clear blue sky. You think it ought to be clear blue sky?' So I told him about going to see 'Forrest Gump,' and life was like a box of chocolates … and that Forrest said, 'blue clear sky.' I told him the song is all about just giving up on love and then, out of nowhere, out of the blue clear sky, comes the love of your life. And George was kind of quiet for a while, and then he says, 'Well, you think there’s many Gumpsters out there?'  And I said, 'Well, yeah, I do!' And he says, 'Well, all right then, we’ll be Gumpsters!' And he recorded 'Blue Clear Sky.''  Next DiPiero performed the upbeat “Daddy’s Money," a song he wrote with Mark D. Sanders and Steve Seskin for the band Ricochet. Introducing his last song, Bob said he and Jeffrey Steele were in Panama City. “We spent three hours on a song that was not going anywhere... in the music business we call it 'polishing the turd.'  (Laughs)  And I said, 'Let’s write a simple song with two verses,'" and they came up with the Montgomery Gentry mid-tempo rocker “Gone.”

            Texas-born Jim Beaver has a BBA from Baylor and an MBA from Vanderbilt. He intended to make a life career in the music business.  He is the former director of marketing for Capitol and Virgin Records,  As well as a professor at MTSU. Since 2002, he has been writing full time. Jim started off with “Am I the Only One,” which he co-wrote with Jeffrey Steele for Dierks Bentley. Introducing his next song Beavers said, “I had just quit my position as a music executive... my wife was pregnant and the future was unclear." This set the stage as he sat down to write with Jonathan Singleton and Darrell Brown. They came up with “Why Don’t We Just Dance," a song about throwing your cares away and being happy. Josh Turner took this song to number one. He followed it up with Luke Bryan’s chart topper “Drink a Beer,” which he co-wrote with Chris Stapleton. The ballad is about the unexpected loss of a loved one. He saved his Gary Allan cut “Watching Airplanes” for last. Jim wrote this power ballad with Jonathan Singleton. 

            Songwriter and sometime producer Lee Thomas Miller hails from Kentucky. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. He is the current president of NSAI, which takes him to Washington as an advocate in congress for composers. He penned Tim McGraw's number one "Southern Girl" with Rodney Clawson and Jaren Johnston. Miller sounded great on the perfect summer song. He followed with a song he wrote with Brad Paisley, Brad’s “I’m Still A Guy." He explained, “We wanted to capture the struggle between men and women in a playful way." Miller said he received a call to write with Brothers Osborne.  They got together and wrote a little. The guys seemed very casual and not in a hurry. They got together again and finished the song. Miller thought they were writing for an album that would be out in a year.  Eight weeks later Lee is driving down the road listening to DJ Bobby Bones when he announces that Brothers Osborne are coming out with a new album. He made a few calls and found out that the song he wrote with them would be the next single! With that, Miller tore into “It Ain’t My Fault.”

            Ritchie McDonald founded Lonestar in 1992 when he lived in Lubbeck Texas. The band charted nine number one singles in their heyday. Ritchie started out with one of their biggest, “My Front Porch Looking In,” a song he wrote with Frank Myers. Ritchie said "the view looking into the house at my beautiful wife and children was far better than anything on the outside." He followed with the beautiful ballad “I’m Already There.” The inspiration came on the road after hanging up the phone with his 4-year-old son, who wanted to know when he was coming home. McDonald laughed and said his son is now 21!  He picked up the guitar to play the mid up-tempo “Mr. Mom,” a co-write with Ron Harbin and Don Pfrimmer. This song brought a smile to my face as I recalled the cartoon video as Ritchie played and sang “Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer, Crayons go up one drawer higher, Rewind Barney for the fifteenth time, Breakfast six, naps at nine."  McDonald closed with Lonestar’s biggest hit, a song written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo, and Chris Lindsay.  “Amazed” spent eight weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot Country Singles and Tracks. McDonald never sounded better!  

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