Songwriter, Which Voice Will You Listen To?

Man vs Row

You have a choice.

You can listen to the voice in your head that says…


“You’ll never make it.

Your dreams are too unrealistic.

The mountain is too steep.

Goliath is too big.

Accept the life you’re living and stop trying so hard.”


Or you can listen to the voice in your heart that says…


“Pick up the pen.

Pick up the guitar.

Sit at the piano.


Feel alive.


Give it everything you have – even if you fail, you’ll know you did your best.

Enjoy your gift.”


Which voice will you listen to today?

Do you struggle with a voice in your head competing with a voice in your heart? I do, sometimes. Or maybe the voice isn’t coming from your head but from your family and friends.  “Get a real job.  Make some money.”  What do the voices tell you, and do you respond differently than you used to?

Let me tell you about back when I was in graduate school at Arkansas State University.  I had been bitten by the songwriting bug a few years before, and I dreamed of moving to Nashville to be a pro songwriter.  But I knew the odds were long.  And I was also single and lonely.  (A bug that had bitten me way before songwriting did.)  So I started praying about it and listening for God the best that I knew how.  And I stuck with it- asking and listening. Asking and listening.  And listening.

Then one day, a nice Christian woman and fellow grad student came into work with a big smile on her face.  She said, “Brent, I’m so excited to see you!  God gave me a word for you while I was praying this morning!”  (I had not been telling her about the asking/listening journey I’d been on- or its subject matter.)  She said, “The Lord told me…

He has the perfect woman for you.

Music is in your future.

The songs will come.

The music will come.

Wait on Him.

He is listening.

He will provide for your finances- don’t look to the world.

Keep looking to Him.”

Needless to say, I was stunned!  And completely humbled.  Like I said, I hadn’t told Glenda that I’d been asking about those things, but the word addressed my questions.  It lined up with scripture (look to God, wait on Him, He will provide), and I knew Glenda to be a sincere prayer warrior.  So it felt trustworthy.

That was in 1998.  I didn’t move to Nashville until 2002.  My first cut wasn’t until 2004, and I didn’t meet Emily (my wife) until 2005.

No wonder He said to WAIT on Him!  But I believed that word from from God.  I typed it out, kept it where I could see it, and held on to it when both Nashville and my future wife felt so far away.  It wasn’t easy sometimes.  It’s still not easy sometimes.

The Lord never promised that I’d make a living as a pro songwriter for the rest of my life.  He never promised a huge house and an easy ride.  No, He just said He’d provide.  And He has.  Every part of that word has been kept.  And I’m thankful.

Sadly, God usually has to make me pretty uncomfortable before I really dig in and start listening for a word from Him.  (I tend to charge ahead in my own power with my own plans.)

But now I’m in another time of asking and listening.  I know if I ask and listening long enough, sincerely enough, that He’ll speak.  If I sincerely want to be in His will, not just looking for permission to do what I want to do, He’ll let me know what the next step is.  Even if it’s just to wait on Him.

I didn’t plan on getting all preacher on you this morning, but there you go.  Part of Man vs. Row is to give you the inside view of a songwriter’s life and journey.  This is a huge part of mine, and I want to be honest with you about it.

What about you?  Are you asking and listening, too?  Or are you on the waiting part?  Has there been a word fulfilled?  I’d love to hear from you- and maybe we can even pray for each other…

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,


Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

12 thoughts on “Songwriter, Which Voice Will You Listen To?”

  1. Thank you Brent. I appreciate the that you lead and mentor as you do. I knew you were doing the right thing, the right way with As usual, very nice work! You’re making a difference.

  2. That’s an amazing story and testament Brent! Thank you for sharing. I know first hand God does amazing things. I think this verse relates somewhat to your experience and words of wisdom…”If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13

  3. Brent,
    Thank you so much for these words today. This is exactly what I needed. I was just questioning my skills yesterday after I received some unconstructive criticism. I know that person has their own opinion, but it is hard to take sometimes and begins to weigh on your soul. I prayed about it last night and feel better, but this post nailed it for me!
    Thanks again!

  4. Great advice for a roller coster of a ride we call songwriting.
    For years Id prayed, “Lord if being successful in the music business
    would cost me my family may I never succeed”. Although I’ve had some small accomplishments such as hearing my song on regional
    radio and my production used by mid level artists I have not been able to make the leap to full time songwriter. I begin to wonder if the good Lord is answering my prayers. More recently i have charge my prayers to, “Lord please allow me to provide for my family with
    the talent you have blessed me with”. God is absolutely a part of my creative process. As i read your article and was moved by it suddenly a text appeared at the top of my phone screen that read,
    “WOW!! Hallelujah!! The text came at the perfect time, kind of like God saying, “He’s Right” it was my Sister-in-law who was commenting on my new song I had sent her. She always tells me God will give you what you desire, just place all your belief in him
    and he will send you endless blessing. To here from her at the exact time i was moved by your article may have been a sign to keep on keeping on. I read your articles all the time and enjoy them very much this is the first time i have been moved to write you. Thanks for all you give us struggling songwriters.

    God bless you

    C.W. Fields

  5. Brent,
    I read your blog all the time, and you’ve always got some good advice, but this is the best — you got right to the heart of the matter. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it”. I struggle daily with the question of whether my dream is my own soulish desires or from Him. That’s where the crossroads are. Thanks I’ve gotten lots of encouragement, but I’ll have my ears open to His direction and that confirming word from one of His servants.

  6. Brent,

    I already pray for you often. You always share what you gain with those of us a few steps behind you in that journey and I pray because I am grateful for that.

    This is probably my favorite post of your’s. Not because it’s the best written (and I think it might be) but because, I don’t think you could write anything that I could relate to or agree with more!

    I just spent a weekend doing only songwriting stuff and everything felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. That little dude on the other shoulder with the horns and trident was surely trying to keep me from even following through with the trip… heck he even pretty much shut down Hobby Airport for 2 hours, crashing the TSA scanners.. but I digress.

    Amen! Amen! High Fives, fist and jumping chest bumps my biC!

    Slight irony too long to post as a comment, but a ministry that I help with music being way off track is why I planned this last trip up to Nashville. I ended up spending a lot of time getting the guys that were going to play ready the weeks before. I wont digress again, that ministry/community is called journey to Damascus.

    As far as which voice I was listening to.. I was still up a couple of hours before this email came in making a work tape and chart for a song that I’m investing in getting tracked Thursday. My mom who I haven’t talked to in a few weeks and had no idea about the songs written this past weekend, posts a meme that is almost verbatim the hook from the song! Signs signs everywhere signs..

    For this trip, I spent more time praying for His will to happen more than any other trip and so far everything from the trip has happened as if it were annointed.

    Starting with breakfast the day of the trip, the guy at Carls Jr (Hardees) says as I’m driving off “Jesus loves you!” I’m like I KNOW!

    Then despite 3,000 people in line when I got to the airport, News choppers above, etc. a super commotion, I walked up to the gate as it was boarding! I was told to go TSA Pre when I wasn’t.

    When I stopped at the KMart for some snacks & supplies in Nashville (No KMarts in Houston) the cashier asks if I was a KMart/Sears rewards something member. I gave her my phone # and somehow that was $13 off!

    My Co-Write that night, we talked as much about faith and church music as any other topic. The 1st time we hung out at all, really.

    I could go on an on.. signs and “confirmations” everywhere! We just have to be willing to accept that tiny berries can sustain us, and not pass them all up looking for giant melons and so forth.

    Happy Mardi Gras and God Bless!


  7. Wow Brent…

    I have to say that this is one of your most moving posts man. You really struck a nerve, maybe even a few nerves, in sharing a few of your struggles.
    Unfortunately, because of my immense stubbornness, God has to use some extreme attention getting methods to force change in me. It’s absolutely my own fault, but it is so painful sometimes. Like you, I’ve had successes, but if I’m honest, I have been my own greatest roadblock to achieving my goals. The reasons for that are legion, but the most shameful one is my “convenient faith.” By that I mean that I am so devout in my praise and reliance on the Lord, until He begins to open doors and clear obstacles from my path. Then, I thank Him dismissively, and let Him know that I can take it from there.
    And for a long time, I did just that. And I consistently took the wheel, and drove headlong into the nearest wall.

    These days, I guess I’ve beaten myself into submission, finally, with His help. Oddly enough, things are better in every aspect of my life, than they’ve ever come close to being. My marriage, my parenting, my acknowledgement of where my blessings originate, etc… I’m so thankful for the grace, but in all honesty, I can’t help but ponder all of the time I wasted, trying to get God to understand the terms by which I needed Him to operate. Arrogance in its purest form, and ignorance at its peak.

    I don’t dwell there in the futility of “what if” for very long, but I’d be less than honest if I said I don’t visit every so often. Maybe it’s a reminder from above to slow down, and “be still, and know that…” He is the Lord, my God, and I’m only as content as I allow Him to bless me.

    Sorry for the novel my friend, but it felt so good to get that out, and I thank you so much for sharing your ups and downs. It caused me to hold a mirror to my own journey, and reaffirm my commitment to the one True course.


  8. Dear Brent,

    This post was a confirmation of where God has finally been able to lead to— the point where no one’s opinion matters but His.
    I have walked away from my songwriting dream for years, only to realize that I could never be anything but a zombie without it. I always remember this line line in “Flashdance”: “Don’t you know, when you give up your dream, you die.”
    I often think of how David, who I relate to very much, states that he learned to encourage himself. He started focusing on successful moments and comments from the past and lifted his spirit in his present.
    So I too went back to the rare and unusual positive comments I’ve received from #1 songwriters and publishers. I imagined myself standing before God after my death and feeling like I’d cheated Him by cheating myself by giving up on what He so wonderfully and uniquely equipped me for.
    So @frombad2verse is back (my user name on twitter) Instead of regretting living the kind of life country songs are made of, I am now thanking God for the great future He has for me in spite of it (like when my own mother stole my whole inheritance from me and God told me to “write a song about it and live off it”) Now, how can I not be faithful to that? 🙂
    ~Blessings Janet Todd

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