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Ben Burgess: 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter

by Jim Casey
photo by Chris Hornbuckle

Dallas-to-L.A.-to-Nashville transplant Ben Burgess put down roots in Music City in 2010. And he found a home as a top songwriter, penning tunes like Morgan Wallen’s 7X Platinum smash “Whiskey Glasses” and 2X Platinum hit “The Way I Talk,” as well as Tyler Rich’s “The Difference,” Dierks Bentley’s “The Difference,” Hardy’s “Signed, Sober You,” Jimmie Allen’s “Country Lines,” and more.

Ben will pay homage to his home state with the release of his debut album, Tears the Size of Texas, on Sept. 30. As you would expect from a top songwriter, Ben penned/co-penned every track on the 10-song offering, which includes a collection of “classic cowboy songs and murder ballads.”

Ahead of the album’s release, Ben sat down with Outsider to talk about the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.

1. ‘Dream On’ – Aerosmith (written by Steven Tyler)

Ben Burgess: “Dream On” was the first Aerosmith song I ever heard. Steven Tyler is my vocal idol and inspiration. I just love how the lyrics are kind of obtuse and how they take you on a journey. 

2. ‘Rocky Raccoon’ – The Beatles (written by Lennon-McCartney)

Ben Burgess: I love a story song. And this song puts me in the middle of Deadwood, South Dakota. It’s like time travel. That’s why I believe time travel is real, because of songs. They can take you to a specific time or place. What kind of mind game is that? I think there’s power and magic in it, and this song took me somewhere. I love it.

3. ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ – The Eagles (written by Don Henley & Glenn Frey)

Ben Burgess: “Lyin’ Eyes” was the first song that I remember my dad being like, “Okay, Benjamin, what does this song mean?” And I was really young, and I was like, “I don’t know, man!” And so we listened to it over and over again. And he’d keep asking me, and that’s where I really learned that the lyric is very important, and that you know sometimes there’s hidden meaning in what’s being said. That song influenced me in that there are 100 different ways to say things. And if you do it right, it lasts forever.

4. ‘Only a Pawn in Their Game’ – Bob Dylan

Ben Burgess: Bob Dylan is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. “Pawn in Their Game” is a savage shot to the heart of a lot of what’s wrong in this world. I don’t know, the way he says it and sings it—he uses history to point back to some of the problems that we’re still facing today in a way that’s so real and visceral. I hope to be as great or as influential as Bob Dylan . . . don’t we all?

5. ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground’ – Willie Nelson

Ben Burgess: I just love the thought—even just the title itself. It tells you everything there is to know about the song. And you know this is a real special woman, and he loves her very much, but she ain’t gonna stick around because she’s an angel. She’s going to go back up there. Willie Nelson just took me to a place with this one. And the way he sets it all up, it’s master craftsmanship at its finest.