Since moving to Nashville, Brandy Clark has drawn in millions of listeners across the world with her honest and authentic songwriting. Whether it be when writing for rising star Hailey Whitters, international badass Miranda Lambert or simply for herself - Clark’s songs possess all the wit and wonder to make you feel warm, empowered, like crying or laughing out loud, all in equal measure. It’s paying off, her most recent release,Your Life Is A Record, is a career best - warranting a recent Grammy Nomination for Country Record of The Year alongside inclusion in Holler's own Records of The Year list this year.
But what has influenced the acclaimed singer-songwriter herself? Sitting down with Kelly McCartney, Brandy Clark details falling in love with Garth Brooks, her Grandma’s Caprice Classic and how Patsy Cline reminds her just how much music matters.
“The first one for me is “Crazy,” written by Willie Nelson and performed by Patsy Cline. I'm always trying to write that song. To me, that song never gets old. It's a song that I think, 100 years from now, people will still be singing. It's a true classic. Like we all can, I have those days where it's like, “Man, does music even matter?!” because you get caught up in the business. And all I need to do is listen to that song and it reminds me that it does. That's definitely number one for me.”
“The Dance” by Garth Brooks reminds me of high school. I was at the point when it wasn't cool to like your parents' music anymore, so I was like, “I don't like country music!”, trying to be cool. I was working on a Christmas tree farm with some other girls who were all cool. I couldn't drive yet, but two of them could. They loved Garth Brooks and I was just kind of like, “Whatever.” Honestly, I don't know what I liked at that time in music, because I've never really liked anything but country music. Maybe I was just listening to talk radio or something. I remember we were driving past this tulip field and “The Dance” came on. I was like, “What's that?” and they said, “Oh, that's Garth Brooks.” I was wowed, so I went home and bought his first two records and listened to them over and over.
The record that really makes me think of wanting to move to Nashville is Patty Loveless’ “Over My Shoulder”. It’s the last cut on her record When Fallen Angels Fly and is one of my favorite songs ever recorded. That's actually my favorite album, top to bottom. When I was dreaming of doing this, growing up in Washington State, I would listen to that record on repeat and I just loved it.
The song that reminds me of actually moving to Nashville is ‘I Hope You Dance’. I remember where I was, driving around, because that was when I was addicted to the radio. That was still where I got all my music. I had to learn along the way to not do that, so I wouldn't become derivative. I had to unplug myself. But, before I did, that song came on. And I always think of it when I think of first moving to Nashville. It’s such a great song and a great performance by Lee Ann Womack.
The Carpenters' 'Top of the World' always makes me think of my grandma. When I was a kid, I grew up next door to her. She had a Caprice Classic convertible which is mine now. It had an eight-track player — and still has. She had this eight-track called The Magic Organ and it was all these songs... like ‘Little Brown Jug’, which I think was Floyd Cramer. ‘Top of the World’ was one of those songs. So I knew that song from The Magic Organ before I knew the Carpenters. I didn't know the words, I just knew the melody. So that one was big for me, too.
Brandy Clark's Grammy-nominated album Your Life Is A Record is out now via Warner.
Photography by Chris Phelps.