The day Leslie Satcher fell in love with lyrics and learned how it seems a simple song can change a life was the day her cousin brought an album of Willie Nelson ‘Red Headed Stranger’ to her Texas home. She said:
“They played it for us and everybody else went outside but I stayed in and listened to that record about eight times in a row. I really think that planted a lot of seeds in me.”
In hopes of capturing the feeling of Willie Nelson’s Lyrics and to heal a broken heart, Satcher started to write her own songs in her teens.
“Of course they were all terrible, terrible love songs,” Satcher says, laughing. “That’s what gets you into songwriting: heartbreak – in country music, anyway.”
In 1989, Satcher moved to Nashville at the behest of her friend and mentor Naomi Judd. She kept writing and singing.
“I came to Nashville just to be a singer,” Satcher says. “I said ‘Well, will they let you do both?”
Satcher began performing at the Blue Bird Café, Mecca for song Writers and song-lovers shortly after moving to Nashville. She met fellow songwriters and artists hungry for great lyrics and her performance at the café helped her into songwriting career she had dreamed of.
Pam Tillis’ Recording of Satcher’s song “I Said a Prayer” was Satcher’s first radio hit that happened in 1998. The song rose to No. 2 on the Billboard country charts. She said that she’ll never forget the first time she heard her song on the radio.
“We were in the car. That’s where most songwriters hear their songs for the first time–on the car radio. And you have to pull over and cry. Everybody does it. You’re just so overwhelmed over the journey that a song can take,” Satcher says. “It happens to every songwriter – grown men, everybody.”
A few years later, Satcher scored a Top 10 hit with Martina McBride’s “When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues,” a rowdy ode to housewives gone wild.
Satcher said that when songwriting is your livelihood, the need to mesh artistic integrity with a song that sells is prevalent.
“That pressure is there every single day for every writer here. Particularly because the songwriting community is getting and smaller and smaller. There are fewer of us because of the download situation and because of us being in such a spiral. They don’t know how to handle the whole digital world yet. The way that songwriters got paid was by album sales. Well, if people aren’t buying albums…The pressure to write something commercial that will get on the radio – what’s left of the radio – is high.” Satcher said.
Satcher is currently working on her fourth record, a live album in Muscles Shoals, which she features guest vocals from Vince Gil, Trisha Yearwood, and others. She’ll join Aaron Watson for a show at the Ryman Auditorium in November. She is a proof that good songs will win in the end no matter how the industry change.
Blue Bird Café, Tunesmith
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