Nicolle Galyon sat down with Outsider to chat about the 5 songs that shaped her as a songwriter.
The Sterling, Kan., native moved to the Music City in 2002 to attend Belmont University and chase her songwriting dream. Nicolle’s dream is now a reality. She is one of the most respected songwriters to put pen to paper.
Over the past decade, Nicolle has penned songs for everyone from Miranda Lambert (“Automatic”) and Keith Urban (“Coming Home”) to Kelsea Ballerini (“Homecoming Queen?”) and Lady A (“Heart Break”). Along the way, she’s scored a handful of No. 1 hits, including Kenny Chesney’s “All the Pretty Girls,” Dan + Shay’s “All to Myself,” and more.
Nicolle has also taken home plenty of hardware for her handiwork, including two ACM Awards for Song of the Year (Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic” in 2015 and Dan + Shay’s “Tequila in 2019). In fact, Nicolle has three songs at country radio right now: Dierks Bentley’s “Gone,” “Runaway June’s “We Were Rich,” and Blake Shelton’s “Minimum Wage.”
Let’s find out the five songs that continue to inspire Nicolle as a songwriter.
1. ‘Older Than I Am’ – Lennon Stella
Nicolle Galyon: “I respect when someone finds something new to write about in a song, some kind of content that isn’t a typical theme like heartbreak, moving from your hometown, or falling in love. I love that this song conveys such a unique message. It’s a song that I would’ve never have thought to write, but when I heard it, it felt like it was written exactly for me.”
2. ‘A Rock’ – HARDY
Nicolle Galyon: “This song does everything I want a song to do. It’s not what you think it’s going to be about based on the title. It’s tough and tender, and at the same time, it gives me full-body chills and somehow is that super-digestible, middle-America poetry. That is everything I love about country music.”
3. ‘Comfortable’ – John Mayer
Nicolle Galyon: “This song is the only one of my choices that isn’t a new, modern song, but somehow it feels brand-new every time I hear it. I’ve known this song for over 20 years, but it has resurfaced in my rotation recently. To me, this song is an indie movie in a song. The verse about the grocery store is like a classic scene from an indie movie that I’ll never forget. It’s that kind of happy/sad song that I can never quit.”
4. ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones’ – Eric Church
Nicolle Galyon: “The number one thing I love about this song is the provocative title. That, to me, is like click-bait, which I respect about it. I remember when I saw the title and thought, ‘What is that? What did they do? What could ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones’ be?
“So often as songwriters, we try to write these really broad, vague, and digestible concepts that relate to everybody and can be universal. But what I love about this song is that it’s such a specific, narrow story. But yet I can’t stop listening to it. That’s the beauty of incredible songwriting, you get caught up in a story that maybe you haven’t lived personally, but it emotes just the same. One of the main things that inspires me about the song is that it’s a hundred percenter. Casey Beathard is the only writer on this song, and I think he continually reminds us how much we all have to learn as songwriters. This is a masterfully written song that feels genre-less and timeless, yet so fresh at the same time.”
5. ‘Line by Line’ – Maren Morris & JP Saxe
Nicolle Galyon: “This one really hits home with me because, as a songwriter and as someone who writes songs every day, we can get so used to writing about anything and everything. It’s really hard to try to fit how I feel about people in my life into one song. It’s taken me a thousand hometown songs to write about how much I love where I came from, and it’s taken me a thousand songs to have me write how I feel about the people in my life. I love that this song says just that, ‘How could it all fit into one song?’ On top of that, the production is just flawless.”