Steve Moakler: 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter

by Jim Casey

Singer/songwriter Steve Moakler has been penning songs—and recording albums—since moving from Steel City to Music City in 2006. The Pennsylvania native’s songwriting credits include Dierks Bentley’s “Riser” and “Mardi Gras,” Jake Owen’s “Surefire Feeling,” Reba McEntire’s “Angels Singin’,” Ashley Monroe’s “If Love Was Fair,” and more.

In addition, Steve has released six studio albums, including 2017’s Steel Town, a soulful homage to his Pittsburgh upbringing. The album featured streaming hit “Suitcase,” which has garnered more than 14 million Spotify streams.

Before Steve releases his seventh studio album, Make a Little Room, on August 12 (pre-save here), Outsider caught up with him to find out the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.

1. ‘Jungleland’ – Bruce Springsteen

Steve Moakler: Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my dad’s office, which was down in our basement. He had a great music collection that I soaked in as a kid. “Jungleland” is the song that stands out most to me from those early memories. The pictures and emotion packed into this song are incredible. I can see the entire song, kinda like a short movie.

2. ‘There Goes My Life’ – Kenny Chesney (written by Neil Thrasher, Wendell Mobley)

Steve Moakler: This was the country song I loved before I knew I loved country music. I heard it for the first time in high school on my girlfriend’s Sony boom box. I couldn’t believe the story and character development that was packed into three-and-half minutes. It still blows me away and gives me goosebumps when I listen to it. I love songs that tell a story and change the way you look at life—all in one fell swoop like this.

3. ‘Stop This Train’ – John Mayer

Steve Moakler: I remember waiting in line at midnight at the college record store to pick up John Mayer’s Continuum album. That already feels like an old-fashioned memory [laughing]. I had just moved to Nashville and Mayer was a musical hero to me. I wore this album out. It became like a close friend to me, as I had just moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone to chase my dreams. This song holds up as my favorite. It just feels more and more true with time.

4. ‘Carolina’ – Eric Church

Steve Moakler: I discovered Eric Church when I was 23. Discovering his music was almost like falling in love with music all over again the way I did when I was 13 or 14. I didn’t have any roots in Carolina, but somehow hearing him sing about his roots made me wanna dig into my own. It still does.

5. ‘Winding Road’ – Sheryl Crow (written by Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod)

Steve Moakler: I absolutely loved this song when it was on the radio in the late ’90s. I love the sound of it, the quirky pictures in the verses, that awesome lead guitar line, and the big old one-line bumper sticker chorus “Everyday is a winding road.” It just somehow sums it all up for me. Also, I’ve never felt like I fit perfectly into one genre. And Sheryl Crow always makes me feel better about that. She’s a little singer/songwriter, country, rock, and Americana all thrown into one. All the things I love.