Tag Archives: Crickets

Cut Study: Joe Nichols “Crickets”


I’m blessed to have the title track to Joe Nichols’ new album, “Crickets,” on Red Bow Records.  Last week, I discussed some of the creative and business choices which went into writing the song.  You can read that post by clicking HERE.  The journey of this particular song, I think, provides some valuable lessons.  Here are a few of them:

Value brings opportunity.

Bill Whyte and Lisa Shaffer had the idea for “Crickets.”  I’d never written with Bill, but I’d written several songs with Lisa.  She thought my sense of humor, storytelling and lyrical sensibilities would be a good fit for the song, so they invited me in.  (Thank you!)  Simply put, I was invited in by two good writers because they believed I would add value.

Nobody gets it right all the time.

After we finished the song, we liked it and wanted to demo it.  My publishing deal at the time was ending, but I turned it in hoping they’d love it and cover the demo costs (after all, my advance was going away, and I was about to be broke).  Well, they didn’t know exactly what to do with the song, so they didn’t want to demo it.  But it was still stuck there.  So, my publisher was wrong because the song eventually got cut anyway.  I was wrong because for the price of 1/3 of a guitar/vocal, I could own the publishing on a Joe Nichols cut.  Ouch.

Write with go-getters.

Lisa and Bill, while disappointed that my publisher didn’t believe in the song, were not gonna quit on it.  They fronted the money and did a guitar/vocal anyway (they are both self-published).  Again, thank you, Lisa and Bill!

Don’t give up on a quality song.

“Crickets” was written in August of 2010, and it got cut in the summer of 2013- almost three years later.  It was put on hold by Luke Bryan and Easton Corbin, but overall, it wasn’t getting a lot of love.

New camps bring new opportunities.

I’d pitched “Crickets” for Joe Nichols several times when he was with Universal South, but I never could get anyone on his team excited about it.  Eventually, Joe left there and signed with Red Bow.  He also changed producers.  I pulled the song back out and pitched it to his new team.  This time, it got through.

Pitch your own songs.

The head of Joe’s label is a big decision-maker on every song his artists record.  I’d never met him, but I got his email address from a friend and sent him the song.  He called me later to put the song on hold for Joe.

The right outside song can still get cut.

The writers weren’t in the artist’s, label’s, or producer’s inner circles.  My publisher didn’t leverage influence to get it cut.  None of us are big-name writers.  But we wrote the right song and got it to the right people at the right time.

Thanks for reading!  Good luck, and happy hunting.

God Bless,



What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  In the meantime, you can check out “Crickets” on Amazon here…



Shout out to Gord Bamford, who has taken “When Your Lips Are So Close” into the Canadian Country Top 10!  Thanks to my cowriters, Gord and Byron Hill- you two did a great job both writing AND producing the song!  You can check out Gord at…


You can also read the “Cut Study” for “When Your Lips Are So Close” by CLICKING HERE.


If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com


Songwriting Decisions: Joe Nichols “Crickets”


As songwriters, we make decisions.  And it’s those creative decisions which make our songs more or less likely to get cut.  Here’s a look at some of the choices we made when writing Joe Nichols’ “Crickets.”

Bill Whyte and Lisa Shaffer invited me in on the idea of writing a funny song about awkward silences called “Crickets.”  This led me to my first decision…

Do I want to write this idea?

I figured there were several versions of that idea being written and pitched around Music Row, and that was a negative for me.  However, I hadn’t ACTUALLY heard it written before, so I decided the idea was still up for grabs if we wrote “the” version of it.  I decided to jump in .  If nothing else, I figured it’d be a lot of fun.

What kind of song is it?

Well, it’s called “Crickets,” and it’s about awkward silences. Given that subject matter, we felt it had to be pretty country and pretty funny.  Neither of those things was (or is) the favored flavor at radio, but we figured it was best to serve the song and hope it found a place.  We didn’t want to try and make it something it wasn’t.

Is this a novelty song?

We could’ve written a novelty song, an over-the-top whacky Ray Stevens comedy song (Bill and I both have cuts by Ray).  But we knew the idea, if written right, had a bigger potential market in mainstream country.  So we decided to keep it more grounded and relatable.

Do we tell one story or several?

We could have written each verse as a stand-alone funny story which led to a general chorus.  But that’s also the obvious way to write it.  And we didn’t want to do the obvious.  We decided to tackle the challenge of giving the song the “power of the present” – of diving into one story that has two or three “crickets” moments in a very compressed time frame.  Why?  For one thing, “3-act play” story songs aren’t getting cut very much.  The time frame of most songs right now is… right now.  Also, it would allow us to really immerse the listener into one story verses the more-expected “here are three separate unrelated stories we have to set up and tell in each of two verses and a bridge about a guy that sticks his foot in his mouth.”  Plus, we figured that although it’d be harder and we’d have to be more creative, it’d be awesome if we could pull it off.

How do we maximize the song’s commercial potential?

We made the song about one night- one story- to engage the listener more and not have to spend so much time on setting up each joke.  We also put it in the contest of a love story- the biggest commercial subject.  We also made sure the awkward moments weren’t caused by the singer saying something that would be a radio-killer: something too offensive for mainstream appeal.  We wanted the singer to be likable and someone the artist wouldn’t mind being for 3 minutes (on an album forever).  We also put the singer on BOTH sides of the crickets moment, which we thought was unexpected and fresh.

So, that’s an overview of some of the writing decisions for “Crickets.”  Even though we knew we were bucking trends by writing something more country and more funny, we made decisions within that framework to give the song maximum commercial appeal.  I hope our songwriting decisions will help YOU make better songwriting decisions.

You can check out “Crickets” on Amazon by clicking this link:


God Bless,



If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

You Win By Adding Value


You win by adding value.  Opportunities come to those who add value.  For example, I brought the idea of “Caribou Barbie” (a Ray Stevens cut) to Matt Cline and Max T. Barnes because they added value by being in Ray’s camp and because they write that kind of song very well.  The value I brought was a title that Ray himself told me I should write.  Lisa Shaffer and Bill Whyte brought the title and idea of “Crickets” (a Joe Nichols cut) to me because they thought my lyrical sensibilities would make the song better.

Artists bring the value of having a record deal.  Published writers bring the value of experience and a team of songpluggers.  What’s your value?  Great hooks?  Do you do your own demos, saving your cowriters money?  Do you have artist potential?  Great melodies?  What can you do to add value?  If you identify it, you can sell yourself on it.  Good luck and God bless!



If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

4 Ways Songwriters Benefit From Mentoring

First of all, what is a mentor?  It’s anyone who advises or trains.  It could be a more seasoned, experienced cowriter.  It could also be a publisher or PRO representative (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, SOCAN…) who takes time with you.  It could also be a professional mentor from NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) or GSC (Global Songwriters Connection).  And there are several good independent mentors out there, too.

A quality mentor can help you get where you want to go more effectively and efficiently- if you’re willing to learn.  Here are four specific ways songwriters can benefit from seeking out a mentor.  (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to drum up business for my own mentoring services.  I only do two or so a month, since it comes out of my family time.)

1. Your mentor knows things you need to know.

He may or may not have some #1s to his credit.  He may or may not have a song on the charts this week.  But the important thing is that he has been down the road ahead of you and can point the way.  He’s seen more, learned more, and accomplished more than you have.  He can help accelerate your learning curve and avoid some of the pitfalls he’s experienced.

2. Your mentor is not your mom.

A mentor is not going to love your song just because they already love you.  And a mentor doesn’t have to see you at Thanksgiving or worry about the quality of the nursing home you choose for her.  Therefore, while a quality mentor will not be mean, she has the freedom to be honest about your writing- as she sees it.  She also doesn’t know your backstory.  This means your writing has to stand on it’s own– singing about Jenny you dated in high school means ONLY what the song says.  Your mentor can’t fill in the gaps from your shared experience- your mentor never sat next to Jenny in algebra class.

3. It’s good practice.

If you want to get songs recorded on a professional level, you’re going to have to get comfortable throwing your babies into the real world.  It can be scary and frustrating, but it’s something you need to get used to.  A quality mentor is a safe place to get that professional feedback.  It’s a step into the music business where you’ll be challenged and have to toughen up.  But it’s also safe because being “just okay” or even “bad” doesn’t close that door to him or her in the future.  After all, it’s your mentor’s job to help you get better.

4. A mentor is a potential entry point into the music business.

If you want to be a professional writer, you won’t get there alone.  You need a network of relationships in the business, and a mentor is a great start.  A mentor might recommend cowriters or publishers.  He or she can be your champion- especially at places like NSAI or GSC.  A mentor might even write with you.  Eventually. (But you should never be the one to mention it first.)  It’s important that you don’ expect this extra level.  I’m just saying, if you’re very good- and professional and would reflect well on your mentor, he or she MIGHT open additional doors for you.

Next week, we’ll start looking at how to maximize a mentoring session.  Thanks!

If you’d like to discover much more about how to find a songwriting coach- and get the most out of that relationship- check out my Amazon bestselling ebook, “Hit Songwriting: How A Songwriting Coach Can Fast Track Your Success.” It will help you prepare for the coaching session- what to do before, during, and after the session- and more! CLICK HERE TO FAST TRACK YOUR SUCCESS.


Any great experiences with a mentor?  Any nightmares?  Any advice on finding a great mentor?  Leave a comment!


Yesterday, it was officially announced that my song, “Crickets” is the title track to Joe Nichols’ new album on Red Bow Records, to be released on October 8, 2013!  Thanks to my cowriters, Lisa Shaffer and Bill Whyte.  And a big thanks to Joe Nichols and his team for recording it!

www.joenichols.com      www.lisashaffermusic.com      www.billwhytecomedy.com


Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com