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100 Years of Radio–100 Years of Hit Makers

The 100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers limited series podcast gives music fans a front-row seat for conversations with songwriters behind some of the biggest hits of yesterday and today. You’ll learn the stories behind the songs from the people who wrote them. Each episode will focus on one writer: sometimes, they’ll just talk about one song, other times, they’ll talk about a number of hits.

100 Years of Radio – 100 Years of Hit Makers special podcast series is produced in partnership with Beasley Media Group, XPERI (HD Radio), and BMI in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast.

Brock Barryhill has written hits for a number of huge country stars, including Kane Brown, Brantley Gilbert and Kenny Chesney. Here, he takes us behind the scenes of some of those hits.

Let’s start out with Kane Brown’s “Good As You.”

“Good As You”; man, that we wrote that back on tour. We were on the bus with Kane, Shy Carter, Will Weatherley and Taylor Phillips. We were trying to write songs… and it was one of those weekends where you felt like you couldn’t hit nothing.

So, it was later in the evening, and Kane had just got done playing [his concert], and Shy picked up a little ukulele, just started picking some chords, and he’s like. “Brock, go grab your your guitar and start playing along with this,” and that’s when Taylor Phillips was like, “I just want to be good as you.” And we just all knew that was it. Forty five minutes later, the song came out and I think it was posted on Instagram, probably within two hours, maybe an hour after that happened, it was just one of those songs that just fell right out.

Sometimes songs happen like that and sometimes they take multiple sessions. That one was just kind of a gift from God.

I guess every songwriter, if they’re lucky, gets one or two of those that become hits. 

We’re grateful for those days because like I said, that was a weekend where we probably wrote two or three other songs that no one will ever hear just because they didn’t have that “thing.” And sometimes it just takes a little bit of spark and picking up a ukulele and just feelin’ the groove and someone’s saying the right word and that triggers the song. And that’s how that hit happened.

What does the ukulele bring that’s different than if you guys are just playing on guitars or keyboards? 

Something about the acoustics of a small guitar, just being so vibey. If a great song can be played on an acoustic instrument or a piano with just someone singing it, it should sound just like a hit song. The innocence of the ukulele, and Shy singing that melody just had this “thing” to it and then, obviously, hearing Kane sing it back, it always sounds amazing. He’s an incredible singer. I guess that’s the easiest way I can explain it.

Sure. So talk about Kane’s “Homesick.”

“Homesick”: it’s funny, I feel like all my hits have been written on busses. So that was another bus run that I was out with Kane, Taylor Phillips and Matt McGuinn. And we were… I can’t remember where that one was written. But we wrote some stuff that [wasn’t good so it] didn’t really matter. And on the way home, we wrote that one on the last day of the run; we wrote the verse. Kane had to go play the show, he got back, we wrote the chorus, and we ended up staying up writing that song till about 5:30 or 5:45 in the morning. I remember so vividly because we wrote the song and then we were driving back from whatever state we were in, we pulled up in Nashville and I laid down for 15 minutes and then we got thrown off the bus because it was time to go home. So it was an all nighter write [i.e. a writing session]  Those happen a lot.

Later that evening I finished up the demo, sent it to Kane, he posted it on Instagram, and it became a single and obviously a big number one for all of us.

With an artist as young as Kane, he’s so social media savvy. I feel like the idea of putting something on Instagram or anywhere else would not have happened like 10 or 20 years ago. With most big artists on major labels, the label would not be OK with, “Hey, I’m just going to put this up on social media for the general public to hear before you guys hear it.” 

I think it’s part of the beauty of the way the Internet is right now is that, as songwriters and artists, we can release songs and see how people connect with them. And obviously, Kane and Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett and a bunch of other guys are doing the same thing. It’s seeing what’s really hitting people’s hearts and what they can relate to. And it’s just translating. Versus just putting out a song out that you love that maybe the fans don’t see it the same way that you do.

Check out the rest of our Kane Brown interview; download the podcast (scroll up).