Earlier this year, singer/songwriter Troy Cartwright signed a publishing deal with Big Machine Music, joining a roster that includes Ryan Hurd, Jessie Jo Dillon, Eric Paslay, and more. The Texas-bred neo-traditionalist has tallied more than 80 millions streams behind the mic, as well as scoring songwriting cuts by Ryan Hurd, Josh Abbott Band, Nickelback, and more.
With his new BMM publishing deal fresh on his mind, Outsider caught up to Troy to find out the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.
1. ‘For Nancy (’Cos It Already Is)’ – Pete Yorn
Troy Cartwright: This was the first song that I ever heard on MTV by a guy with a guitar and long hair. Everything else had been boy bands or pop artists. And here was this guy named Pete Yorn that did singer/songwriter stuff. I remember going out and buying his record the next day. It really opened my mind to the craft of songwriting. And it was the first time I thought, “I think I’d like to do that.”
2. ‘Feelin’ Good Again’ – Robert Earl Keen
Troy Cartwright: For me, Robert Earl Keen is the GOAT. His music appeal is wide, everyone from college frat boys to the shoe-gazing singer/songwriters. When I was starting out and really getting into writing songs, I had a gig as a dog walker in Boston, Massachusetts. I would rip through at least two REK albums a day just walking around. And I think this song has always stuck with me as one of his best and one that showcases his unique artistic style. “Feels so good feelin’ good again” is a 10 out of 10 hook.
3. ’21 Summer’ – Brothers Osborne (written by John Osborne, T.J. Osborne, Craig Wiseman)
Troy Cartwright: In the same way that REK and Pete Yorn got me into the craft of songwriting, Brothers Osborne got me into country music. I was a little bit of a late bloomer when it came to Nashville and the opportunities that exist here, but the music these guys were putting out really pulled all the pieces together for me. This song is layered and filled with imagery, while also being commercial and unique. I’m such a fan of this whole album and of this band.
4. ‘Me and My Kind’ – Cody Johnson (written by Cody Johnson, David Lee, Wynn Varble)
Troy Cartwright: Would you like to hear a traditional country song that is an absolute banger? Have I got the song for you. I first came across Cody Johnson back in 2015 at a radio station in Stephenville, Texas. The DJ played this song, and I had never heard anything quite like it. It’s obviously familiar and traditional, but so good and so well-written. I have so much respect for Cody and the career he has built. He’s a hard worker and amazing performer, but what I respect the most is that he has always put great songs first.
5. ‘Beaumont’ – Hayes Carll
Troy Cartwright: This is the best song I’ve ever heard. Its impact on my writing and storytelling is immense. One of the things I admire about Hayes is his ability to take simple language and images and paint complex stories. It’s also in his delivery—equal parts emotion and restraint. Are you feeling hopeful, hopeless, in love, in mourning, nostalgia or regret? It’s all in here. It inspired me the day I heard it and it continues to do so today. Songs like this are always the bar that I’m trying to aim for.