Singer/songwriter CJ Solar has found chart-topping success writing hits for both Morgan Wallen (“Up Down”) and Jameson Rodgers (“Some Girls”). The Louisiana native also has penned cuts for Jason Aldean (“I Don’t Drink Anymore”), Justin Moore (“Between You & Me”), and Jerrod Niemann (“Blue Bandana”), among others.
In addition, CJ has released three solo EPs: 2016’s Hard One to Turn Down, 2018’s Get Away With It, and 2020’s Coming My Way. CJ recently signed a publishing deal with Edgehill Music and is working on his new album, which is slated to drop early next year.
CJ sat down with Outsider to talk about the 5 Songs That Shaped the Songwriter.
1. ‘Born on the Bayou’ – Creedence Clearwater Revival
CJ Solar: “Born on the Bayou” was one of the first songs I ever learned on guitar—it’s one chord, so it was easy. The simple lyrics mixed with John Fogerty’s howling voice connected with me like no other when I first picked up the guitar. I had to learn every CCR song as an 8- or 9-year old. But this one, about where I was from [Baton Rouge], was my favorite.
2. ‘What Was I Thinkin” – Dierks Bentley
CJ Solar: When I was in middle school, my parents took me on a trip to Nashville. One night we went to the Grand Ole Opry—Dierks, Brad Paisley, and Blake Shelton all played that night. But “What Was I Thinkin'” stuck out for how much it rocked. Dierks’ first album became one of my favorite country records.
3. ‘Gone’ – Montgomery Gentry
CJ Solar: After getting into country music in middle school, I started noticing songwriters’ names. “Gone” was one of my favorites, and it had two of my favorite names on it: Bob DiPiero and Jeffrey Steele. I love so many of their tunes. I’m lucky to have been able to write with both of them, which was on my bucket list when I moved to Nashville.
4. ‘Rooster’ – Alice in Chains
CJ Solar: My favorite genre behind country and Southern rock is Grunge music. My older sister and uncle both loved the bands, which got me into it. I love the intensity in the singers’ voices that really sell a song, even if the lyrics don’t make much sense. But when they do, and tell a story like “Rooster,” it’s a great combination that keeps me coming back.
5. ‘Lonely Tonight’ – Blake Shelton
CJ Solar: One of my best buds and past roommates, Brent Anderson, co-wrote “Lonely Tonight” with Ryan Hurd. It was the first time I saw two guys come into Sea Gayle Publishing after writing a song to play it for the plugger. I got to watch it go through the paces all the way to number one. It was very inspiring and cool to see the process from start to finish.