Ashley Gorley has penned 53 No. 1 singles. That is not a typo. 53.
The man is only 44 years old, so he’s averaging 1.2 No. 1 singles per year of his life. It’s mind-blowing to think about it, especially considering the Kentucky native didn’t really start writing songs until he graduated from Nashville’s Belmont University in 1999.
In addition, Ashley has written more than 300 songs that have been recorded. We can’t list all of them, or we’d be here all day. But a handful of our favorites include Jon Pardi’s “Dirt on My Boots,” Lee Brice’s “Rumor,” Thomas Rhett’s “Remember You Young,” Jake Owen’s “American Country Love Song,” and Dierks Bentley’s “Living.”
Ashley sat down with Outsider to talk about the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter. From the Beastie Boys to Randy Travis, the prolific penner draws inspiration from a motley crew.
1. ‘Paul Revere’ – Beastie Boys
Ashley Gorley: “This was on my first cassette that I wore out as a 9-year-old becoming obsessed with rap. I even played the drums in the school talent show to this song. The easiest way I can describe the impact of ‘Paul Revere’ is that it made me want to understand what music was. Rap was the gateway to R&B, which is a genre of music I’ve appreciated nearly all my life.”
2. ‘Water Runs Dry’ – Boyz II Men
Ashley Gorley: “Choosing my favorite Babyface song isn’t easy, and ‘Roni’ definitely earns an honorable mention. As I mentioned, I dove headfirst into R&B in the ’90s, and before I knew it, I realized Babyface was behind all of my favorite songs. He was singing, writing, and producing at such a prolific pace. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
3. ‘Deeper Than the Holler’ – Randy Travis
Ashley Gorley: “I was at my grandmother’s house when I heard ‘Deeper Than the Holler’ on the Academy of Country Music Awards. I listened to the song and thought it was one of the greatest ideas I’d never heard. It was so clever how the lyric flipped in the second verse. The song made me fall in love with country lyrics. It also taught me to learn to pay attention to writing credits. Songwriter Paul Overstreet became a big influence of mine—much like Babyface—as I realized he was responsible for so many of my favorite country songs.”
4. ‘I Hope You Dance’ – Lee Ann Womack
Ashley Gorley: “I heard ‘I Hope You Dance’ as a demo for the first time in the late ’90s. Over the next several months, I watched the song go from a demo to one of the most incredible songs, which was produced perfectly by Mark Wright. When I heard the song on the radio, I thought ‘This is why we do this.'”
5. ‘Just to See You Smile’ – Tim McGraw
Ashley Gorley: “This song taught me so much about the life of an outside cut (a song released by someone other than the co-writer). I was working in the tape room of Hamstein Publishing for Jeff Carlton when this song went No. 1. We attended the No.1 party for Tim McGraw and the writers’ Mark Nesler and Tony Martin.”