‘...The knives of lovers past she pulls gently from my back
Cause she makes love so easy...’
I still vividly remember the moment those words fell out of my mouth in the home studio of my good friend Max T Barnes. We were writing at his ranch in Hendersonville, Tennessee - right down the road from where Johnny Cash used to live. The walls are full of gold record plaques from artists like Randy Travis, LeAnn Rimes and Colin Raye, yet somehow we’re in the process of giving birth to (what I would consider to be) the musical love child of Stevie Wonder and Toto.
‘...sing that again!’ Max says to me in his signature Southern drawl and after repeating the line to him a nice big smile forms on his face and I start to hear that sound of giddy excitement entering his voice. ‘Praise the Lord!’ I think to myself.. relieved after he’s graciously rejected a thousand other cliched lyrics that I’ve thrown into the mix over the past hour. I guess when you’ve already worked hard enough to land nine #1 hit songs you get pretty bored hearing the same old stuff said in the same old ways.
I walked into the session that day with a basic melody and three guitar chords strummed over a rhythm I had heard (and played!) a million times in Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’. What I originally believed would be the chorus of the song quickly turned into the verse and we started throwing out ideas about a potential theme. My marriage had fallen apart only a few months before and naturally I was dealing with all of the emotions that came hand in hand with the separation. I had however also just met an amazing girl before I set off on this writing trip - she was incredibly beautiful, kind and sweet and she just seemed to get me (a pretty refreshing feeling in the midst of all my lingering heartache!).
As I spoke with Max at length about how incredible this girl was making me feel, the thing that stood out to both of us was how I felt like I could be completely open and honest with her - I felt comfortable talking to her about anything, without fear of judgement, and I wasn’t afraid to be myself when I was around her. When I finally stopped excitedly hogging all the conversation time, Max calmly said...
‘...I can say anything to her and that’s sayin somethin...’
In that moment my heart jumped out of my chest - I knew we were on to something good...