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Matt Jenkins: 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter

by Jim Casey
(photo by Madi Taylor, courtesy Matt Jenkins)

Singer/songwriter Matt Jenkins keeps cranking out the hits. The Texas-to-Tennessee transplant has penned chart-topping tunes for Blake Shelton (“Happy Anywhere”), Kenny Chesney (“Setting the World on Fire”), Billy Currington (“Do I Make You Wanna”), Old Dominion (“Song for Another Time”), Dustin Lynch (“Where It’s At”), and Florida Georgia Line (“Confession”). Matt has also scored cuts for Keith Urban (“Cop Car”), Carly Pearce (“I Need a Ride Home”), and Walker Hayes (“Beer in the Fridge”), among others.

In addition, Matt co-penned Jordan Davis’ new single, “Buy Dirt,” which is currently climbing up the charts.

Matt sat down with Outsider to talk about the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.

1. ‘Good Ole Boys Like Me’ – Don Williams

Matt Jenkins: “I’ll never forget in high school buying Don Williams’ Greatest Hits record. His sound and style resonated with me and I wore out that record. So many of his songs helped shaped me, but “Good Ole Boys Like Me” was my song. The lyrics seemed so autobiographical to me and I loved how honest it felt. It’s one of those songs that makes you wanna sing along and cry at the same time. I got to play a show with Don in Oklahoma before he passed. It was one of the highlights of my career.”

2. ‘Fire and Rain’ – James Taylor

Matt Jenkins: “My dad, who was a singer/songwriter himself, turned me on to James Taylor. I fell in love with his unique style of guitar playing, and he really opened my eyes to a whole different style of songwriting. I remember finding a live video of James playing “Fire and Rain.” I watched it over and over again just so I could see exactly how he was playing it. It’s one of those songs I still don’t really know what some of the lyrics mean… but I kind of like the mystery of that in a song.”

3. ‘Deeper Than the Holler’ – Randy Travis

Matt Jenkins: “Just quintessential Randy Travis. The voice that shaped my youth as much as anything I listened to. I think I knew every song on every record by heart. From the opening fiddle lick, to the country small-town lyric. This song will always be at the top for me!”

4. ‘No Such Thing’ – John Mayer

Matt Jenkins: “My freshmen year of college, John Mayer released his debut album, Room for Squares. I went to school right outside of Lubbock, Texas, and the drive back to my hometown of Aledo was about five hours. I made that drive back more times than I can count. And I don’t think I listened to anything else but this record that first year. After moving to Nashville, I realized how many other singer/songwriters were changed by that record as much as I was. ‘No Such Thing’ was a coming-of-age, breaking-out-for-the-status-quo anthem that felt like my life direction at the time. For that, it will always be my favorite.”

5. ‘Back Where I Come From’ – Kenny Chesney

Matt Jenkins: “I loved this Mac McAnally song that Kenny covered. I’ve always listened to the live version he did at Neyland Stadium [in Knoxville, Tennessee] and it gets me singing along and reminiscing about my hometown every time I hear it.”