John Jarrard Foundation Summer Songwriter Series
What: Featured songwriters Jim McBride and Gary Nicholson to perform
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 19
Where: Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
Cost: $20 per person; purchase tickets online
Jim McBride began writing songs at 12 years old but never dreamed of it becoming his career until 20 years later.
He “fooled around” with songwriting throughout his youth and during his time as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.
But when he wrote a song that caught the ears of many in the Nashville music scene, he made a bet with himself. He said if the song became a well-known single, he would move to Music City and write music for a living.
The song, “A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn,” did just that. McBride quit his job the day after Christmas in 1980 and never looked back.
Now, he owns a publishing company with his sons called Melmo Music and participates in songwriter festivals nationwide.
On Saturday, he will be featured in the John Jarrard Foundation’s Summer Songwriter Series for the first time at the Brenau Downtown Center.
Before the event, McBride answered a few questions for The Times.
Question: What has been one of your favorite songwriting experiences so far?
Answer: Obviously, winning awards and becoming friends with my songwriter heroes was a big deal to me. However, receiving foreign royalty statements showing where some of my songs were being played in dozens of foreign countries is still amazing to me.
Q: Who is one of your favorite artists to write with and why?
A: Alan Jackson and I had a little magic going on when we wrote together. We loved the same country songs and the same country artists. He is from Georgia and I am from Alabama and we were on the same wave length from day one. I knew he was going to be a star the first time we sat down together to write.
Q: What are some of your favorite songs that you’ve written?
A: “Dixie Boy” is a song I wrote for my Mom and Dad. Alabama recorded it on their album “The Closer You Get.” It was not a single but the album sold five million copies. The song was about my life growing up and the band must have associated with the lyrics in some ways.
Stewart Harris, Tammy Cochran and I wrote a song for her album titled “Angels In Waiting.” It was written to honor her two older brothers who died from cystic fibrosis. It became a top 10 single for her. The Billy Ray Cyrus television show “Doc” built an entire episode around the song. It helped to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and seemed to touch a lot of people.
Q: What’s a song you wish you had written?
A: Bob McDill wrote many great songs including one I wish I had written titled “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” recorded by Don Williams. It’s just a unique song sung by a great artist. It had a lot to do with inspiring me to make the move to Nashville.
Q: What would you be doing now, or what would you have done if you hadn’t become a songwriter?
A: I carried mail for 14 years before I moved to Nashville. If I could go back and have no songwriting aspirations, I think I would have loved being an English literature or American history teacher. I loved those two subjects in school. No others, just those two.
Q: Tell us about a time when you second guessed yourself or your ability to write music.
A: I had a No. 2 country song “A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn” by Conway Twitty when I moved to Nashville. Before the year was over I had a No. 1 song ,”Bet Your Heart On Me” by Johnny Lee. I thought I was set. I was getting my country songs on albums but could not get the radio records because the music changed to more pop-sounding records. It was six years before I had another hit and No. 1 record with “Rose In Paradise” by Waylon Jennings. During that six years, I considered going back to work at the post office. I’m glad I didn’t because I met Alan Jackson about the time I was thinking maybe my dream was over.