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Short Questions: John Pennell

Here's the first installment of "Short Questions" where song writers answer a short list of questions about their writing.

The first installment features the great Nashville songwriter John Pennell. John has had songs recorded by Alison Krauss, Alan Jackson, Dan Tyminski and many more.

Do you have a designated time and place that you write?

No not generally, I've written everywhere imaginable, just depends on whether I'm co-writing, who with or with Julie (my wife) or by myself.

Do you try to write every day?


Where do you find ideas?

Anywhere I gain inspiration. Sometimes from me, sometimes from a co-writer, sometimes just pops into my head.

What do you love about songwriting?

Reward of satisfying a vision, or ideal or thought that can have a positive impact on peoples live, or it just has to do with something I love to talk about like baseball. "Wizard Of Oz" a song I co-wrote with one of my favorite people/musicians Sam Bush, and was played on XM radio by Bob Dylan.

What do you dislike about songwriting?

Dislike having a great line and can't find the right phrase or line to go with it. But, that is also part of the fun. Dislike having to finish a song idea I don't believe in.

What is your process when you write alone?

Try and get a good opening line with a solid musical idea and work it out from there.

What is your process when you co-write?

depends on the co-writer. Do they have an idea you like? Are we working on one of mine? I try and contribute to all aspects of the song, lyric, music direction etc.

How do you find people to co-write with?

I’m not that interested in the "Nashville' way of writing songs. Always co-write, more the merrier, commercial as possible.

What advice do you have for beginning songwriters?

Find yer own best 'voice' and keep writing. Listen. Listen to music outside your comfort.

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