In 1991 when I was making my transition to Nashville from a Friday and Saturday night Honkytonk singer in the mountains of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio I had not yet realized the importance of a song. Oh, I had the curiosity about where songs came from. I remember in the 80's when I would go buy the latest George Strait album, I couldn't wait to listen to it all the while reading the album credits of musicians and writers like it was the New York Times best seller. Soon after moving to Nashville in 1991, I was befriended almost immediately by some of Nashville's top songwriters. At least a dozen of these same writers that I had been reading their names on album jackets for years, were now my friends and mentors. Needless to say, I felt like I had just walked into a picture that I had been starring at my whole life. It was in those early Nashville days that I realized who the two biggest hero's in the music business were. It wasn't the guy tearing up the stage in a concert, It was the songwriters and the songs. And I got my first taste of it in 1994 When newcomer Tim McGraw recorded a song that myself and my good friend Larry W. Johnson wrote entitled "Don't take the girl". We knew we had a potential hit when I started singing it at writers nights across Nashville with explosive response. But it wasn't until the song was released to the public by McGraw that I realized that the song pretty much had a life of it's own. The song meant so much to people around the world that I became sure it was God who really wrote the song, He just let us hold the pen. Since it's release in 1994 it has aired on radio stations around the country more than 4 million times. Let me give you a little example of how many times that really is. If you were to play "Don't take the girl" back to back over and over 4 million times, It would play continuously non stop 24/7 for over 30 years. Wow! Now here's something else to think about. I'm not sure how many internet streams it has had over the years, but it must be in the hundreds of millions. It streams on Pandora alone nearly 8 million times in every 3 month quarter still today. But all those numbers aside, the best part of the whole thing is knowing how many peoples life that song has affected. Reading comments under posts of that song, it's amazing to hear some of the stories of how that song touched them. Some say they remember where they were the first time they heard it, some say it's the song that brought them to be country music listeners, and it just goes on and on. That is very humbling. And I hope that everyone who is a songwriter or dreams of being a songwriter gets the chance to experience that someday. So folks remember, It really is "All about the song" I still love George Strait today if not more than I did back in those early days in the 80's. But lets face it, If it wasn't for a song, King George would probably be an agriculture professor somewhere in Texas. (FYI That's not a joke. He has a Degree In Agriculture). Keep Writing!!
Craig J. Martin