Dang, Shane McAnally is on a roll right now.
He produced and co-arranged “Forever Country,” he wrote the No. 1 song tracked by Dierks Bentley, “Black.” He’s written No. 1 hits for Kenny Chesney (“American Kids”), Luke Bryan (“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”), Lady Antebellum (“Downtown”), Sam Hunt (“Leave the Night On”), and so many others. Not to mention producing albums for Sam Hunt and Jake Owen, among others.
He’s won awards — Grammy’s, ACMs, a CMA, and a MusicRow. He had a crucial role in “Forever Country,” which was in honor of the CMA’s 50th anniversary and featured 30 country stars. He helped arrange the tune, and it mashes up John Denver’s “Take Me Home,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Can you imagine the skill it takes to smash together three songs and make it sound good?
That takes McAnally level skill.
“I don’t know that any of us know what we are capable of until we try,” he told Nash Country Daily. “Looking back over this project, it seems near impossible. It just came together with such an amazing group of people.”
Part of what makes him so talented seems to be his drive for betterment. He seems to invite big, important projects. Maybe the heaviness and pressure of delivering perfectly weighs on him, forcing him to rise to the occasion.
The urge to become better at his art sometimes makes him strive to be as good as those around him. Because despite his skills and success, the jealousy bug can still bite him. He recently met with Nash Country Daily to talk about what hit country songs he wishes he wrote.
“I Hope You Dance” — Lee Ann Womack
Written by Mark D. Sanders, Tia Sillers
“Even if it seems somewhat cliché, I think ‘I Hope You Dance’ is just about as perfect a written song as there has ever been. And so many of those lines in that song have become sort of everyday phrases. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean—I think people almost can forget where that line came from because it’s so much bigger. Because that is how we all want to feel, to remember our place in this world.”
“Girl Crush” — Little Big Town
Written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose
“It’s a fairly recent song, but one that is such a unique take. I still cannot believe that that idea had not been written. When those ideas come along that are truly fresh, it’s unbelievable. It’s just an unbelievable way they wrote it. It could have turned out cheesy—the idea—but they made it so universal.”
“The House That Built Me” — Miranda Lambert
Written by Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin
“I think it’s the greatest song of this century. It never doesn’t stop me in my tracks. The second verse—From Better Homes and Garden magazine—I literally can cry talking about it.”