Minnesota-to-Nashville transplant Caitlyn Smith has penned songs for a motley mix of cross-genre artists since moving to Music City more than a decade ago, including Meghan Trainor and John Legend (“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”), Miley Cyrus (“High”), Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (“You Can’t Make Old Friends”), Gabby Barrett (“Goldmine”), and more.
On April 14, Caitlyn will release her new self-produced album, High & Low, which features 14 tracks she penned/co-penned, including the recently released album capper, “The Great Pretender.” The upcoming project captures a comprehensive blueprint of Caitlyn as a creator—singer, songwriter, and producer. Ahead of the album’s release, it’s apropos that we caught up to Caitlyn on International Women’s Day on March 8 to find out the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.
1. Paul Simon – ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’
Caitlyn Smith: During COVID, I dove into my longtime favorite artists. And Paul Simon is definitely one of those artists for me. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love his music and his voice. This song just paints the perfect picture of a love lost, mixed with nostalgia and regret and really just . . . all the feelings. He is a master class in songwriting.
2. Bonnie Raitt – ‘I Ain’t Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again’ (written by David Lasley, Julie Lasley)
Caitlyn Smith: Bonnie is the queen. She can do no wrong in my eyes. And this song is the perfect example of that. From the first note of that piano, you can hear the loneliness in her voice. It’s a rare artist that can break your heart and leave you in complete awe at the same time. Bonnie does that.
3. Patty Griffin – ‘Moses’
Caitlyn Smith: There are not enough words to describe my love for Patty Griffin. When I first moved to Nashville I tried to become a student of songs, and I really dove into Patty’s music during that time. “Diamonds, roses, I need Moses / To cross this sea of loneliness / Part this red river of pain.” This lyric slays me.
4. Chris Stapleton – ‘Fire Away’ (written by Chris Stapleton, Danny Green)
Caitlyn Smith: Few people would argue with the fact that Chris Stapleton is one of the best vocalists of our time. That voice is truly unmatched. He has this ability to so clearly put you in the place he is singing about. And he will always be the type of writer that other songwriters say, “Damn, I wish I wrote that one.” “Fire Away” is one of my favorites.
5. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Landslide’ (written by Stevie Nicks)
Caitlyn Smith: Stevie Nicks. Period, the end. She has such a unique quality to her voice, and a conviction in her delivery. With this song in particular, she’s really telling us who she is and what she was going through at the time. It’s so vulnerable, which is why I think it’s one of the most iconic songs of our time. Every artist strives for that level of honesty in their lyrics.