Nashville has hundreds of songwriters who simultaneously smash the palm of their hand violently into their foreheads when they hear a beautifully simple song on the radio for the first time. Automatically, they think, “Why didn’t I write that one.”
The frustration is only magnified when a hook that should have been staring them right in the face is successfully captured by another member of the songwriting brotherhood. Newcomer Dustin Lynch accomplished the feat earlier this year with his act-breaking debut single “Cowboys And Angels.”
Lynch soared up the Billboard singles chart with the tune, eventually peaking at No. 2. The single paved the way for the release of his first major label album, which was released Aug. 21 on Broken Bow Records. The self-titled project reached No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart.
A Tullahoma, Tenn., native, the 27-year-old Lynch said the biggest highlight of his breakout year came in March, when he took the stage of the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
“The circle at the opry is sacred ground. It is where the greatest singers in this business have stood,” Lynch said, as he prepared to perform a guest spot on MTV. “Getting to play the Mother Church of Country Music is the coolest feeling ever.”
The appearance slammed an exclamation point on an outstanding year for Lynch, who has a large fan base in multiple genres.
Local fans will have an opportunity to see Lynch in a much more intimate setting at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 when he appears in concert at the Clemens Fine Art Center on the campus of West Kentucky Community & Technical College in Paducah.
Tickets are $20 for adults. Children and students will be admitted for $10. For more information, call 270-534-3212.
Playing in rowdy honky tonks while still in high school, Lynch was determined to pursue a career in country music and based all decisions on achieving the lofty goal. He decided to attend David Lipscomb University in Nashville, mainly because it was less than two miles from the famous Bluebird Cafe.
The Bluebird, a 120-seat venue was opened in 1982, has an iconic reputation as a launching pad for superstars. Garth Brooks passed his audition there. So did 15-year-old Taylor Swift. The club was the central theme of “The Thing Called Love,” a 1992 movie starring the late River Phoenix.
When he migrated to Music City in 2003, Lynch focused his attention on the Bluebird. He knew the best songwriters played the club and he planned on learning the craft by observing the experts. He rented an apartment behind the club’s back parking lot and would attend several shows every week.
“I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge,” Lynch said. “I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about and what it’s really about. There’s something about understanding the songwriter’s realm. You get a little better grip on the way it was written, why it was written and how they got to the finished product.”
His unique approach worked.
Lynch spent nearly a decade paying dues in Nashville. At the same time, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and was pre-med major. With diploma in hand, he went to work as a biologist. One of his first jobs was testing raw sewage. This instantly made him more determined than ever to take his guitar and find a more fragrant path down the musical road.
And like a movie script, his big break came at The Bluebird Café. He had auditioned and won a spot on a Saturday show, and he kept coming back and developing a loyal core of fans. He was finally discovered at one show by Pete Hartung, manager for Justin Moore, and a publishing deal soon followed.
Cranking out more than 100 tunes a year, Lynch was a songwriting machine. It was the professionalism developed on the Bluebird stage and the constant creativity from his pen that led to his being signed by Broken Bow Records, the home of Jason Aldean.
Lynch proved to be a solid investment for Broken Bow as “Cowboys and Angels” made him one of the brightest new faces in the industry for 2012. His follow-up single, “She Cranks My Tractor,” was released Nov. 19.
In 2013, Lynch will be touring with Keith Urban and Little Big Town.
VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.