About This Book

Songs tell a story, and now many of country music's most famous singers and songwriters are sharing more of the story! These artists reveal the inspiration, influence, and background, and when and why they wrote their most famous songs, in this fresh collection of stories. The book also includes great photos of the songwriters and lyrics of many of the songs. A great gift for anyone who loves country music!

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Your Favorite Songs Revealed: The surprising story behind five famous songs

Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Randy Rudder; Foreword by Ken Kragen

No music genre is more linked to storytelling than country music. From Hank Williams to Miranda Lambert, country music stars have always been master storytellers, with lyrics about life, love, family and more. But where do country music singers and songwriters get the inspiration for their biggest hits? Here are the stories behind five of your favorite country hits.

1. "The House That Built Me" written by Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas; recorded by Miranda Lambert.

Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas wrote "The House that Built Me" based upon Shamblin’s childhood experiences and visiting his home in Huffman, TX. Since graduating high school, whenever Shamblin would visit his home town, he’d make sure to drive through the Dairy Queen and stop by the home where he grew up. In fact, Douglas and Shamblin both drew on experiences from their childhood memories while they were in the writing process, giving them comfort and healing. Miranda Lambert recorded the song and at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011, she won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song.

2. "American Honey" written by Hillary Lindsay, Shane Stevens & Cary Ryan Barlowe, recorded by Lady Antebellum.

Hillary Lindsay shares her story of writing "American Honey" with Shane Stevens and Cary Ryan Barlowe while on a road trip through the Smoky Mountains when they saw a sign for "American Honey" whiskey. They started writing the song while still on their trip. They wrote the lines, "She grew up on a side of the road /where church bells ring and strong love grows." They all grew up in the South and had a lot in common as far as their upbringing. While writing the song, they realized it was a story about all three of them growing up and missing their innocence and wanting to get back to that. This song was recorded by Lady Antebellum and became a #1 hit single from their first album.

3. "The Good Stuff" written by Craig Wiseman and Jim Collins, recorded by Kenny Chesney.

Craig Wiseman shares the story of how he and co-writer Jim Collins came to befriend a security guard on Music Row in Nashville named Rusty Martin. Martin was a retired Mississippi state trooper who had moved to Nashville when his wife began receiving cancer treatments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Tragically, Rusty's wife passed away later, but his friendship with Craig and Jim continued. Later, the songwriting duo started writing a song about losing a spouse, loosely based on Rusty's life. By the time the song was finished, Rusty's character had morphed into a teetotal-ling bartender who has lost his wife and shares his wisdom about life and marriage with a young man who comes into the bar after a fight with his wife. The barkeep advises him, "When you get home, she’ll start to cry / When she says , ‘I’m sorry,’ say ‘So am I.’ / And look into those eyes so deep in love... and drink it up, cause that’s the good stuff." The song was written with Rusty's blessing and Wiseman and Collins later gave him a footstone for his wife that read, "The Good Stuff."

4. "Delta Dawn" written by Alex Harvey and Larry Collins, recorded by Tanya Tucker, Helen Reddy, Bette Midler and others.

In his story, Alex Harvey shares the truth about who the song "Delta Dawn" is really about – his mother. When he was only fifteen, he was in a band that won a contest to be on TV in Tennessee. When Alex’s mother said she wanted to attend the performance, Alex said no and told her his fear of her embarrassing him. When he returned home, he was told that his mother had died – she had been drinking and drove into a tree, apparently a suicide. Alex’s guilt stayed with him for years, thinking he had something to do with her death. Ten years later, Alex was strumming his guitar late one evening and saw his mother very clearly sitting in a rocking chair laughing. Suddenly a verse came to him and a friend, Larry Collins, helped him finish the song in close to twenty minutes. Alex felt it was his mother’s way of telling him "It’s ok," and that she had made her own choices in life. The song was a gift, an apology and a thank you to his mother. The song helped Alex heal and it also went on to be recorded 78 times!

5. "The Dance" written by Tony Arata, recorded by Garth Brooks.

Tony Arata was an aspiring songwriter and played in a band for years in Georgia before moving to Nashville. After seeing the movie "Peggy Sue Got Married" he was inspired to write "The Dance." In the movie, Peggy Sue gets divorced when she’s in her forties, and then has a chance to go back to high school and change her decisions. When her husband in the film asks her to dance, she starts to say no, and then she looks down at the locket with the pictures of her kids in it. She realizes if she says no and doesn’t marry him, the kids’ pictures will fade. Arata shares, "There are so many times in life when we want to avoid the pain, but if we did, we’d miss out of the joy in life, too." Garth Brooks, who was selling boots at the time, heard Arata sing the song at a Nashville club. Once signed to Capitol Records, a year or so later, Brooks recorded the song. "The Dance" won Song of the Year from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association and it was the most played song on country radio that year. It was also nominated for a Grammy.

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