The Marty Smith Podcast: Ray Fulcher Opens Up About Songwriting and Finding Structure Through His College Essays at UGA

by Chris Haney
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In the most recent episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, singer-songwriter Ray Fulcher joined the show to talk about his country music journey in Nashville. The native Georgian has written songs for some of the biggest country acts around, including his good friend Luke Combs and Eric Church. Yet most recently, Fulcher just came out with his own debut album as an artist called Spray Painted Line on Friday, June 10.

While Fulcher adjusts to the transition of becoming a country artist himself, his roots in the industry are still firmly planted with his songwriting. During his podcast appearance, Fulcher dived into songwriting and broke down how he goes about creating music. In fact, he learned his formula for songwriting years ago while in college at the University of Georgia in the mid-2000s.

“I remember this vividly, I was student teaching,” Fulcher explained on The Marty Smith Podcast. “Really when I kind of made the decision in my heart [to pursue music] like, man, I probably should figure out what I want to do with this. And maybe it’s a higher calling than just a hobby for me.”

“I remember vividly being in the back of the classroom writing my first song,” he continued. “I had this idea, I really had no melody, but I was writing these words down. And I remember this kinda juxtaposition of like, I’m in this place training for what I’ve gone to school for. And now I’m in the back of the classroom writing a song. That kinda was a lightbulb for me that was kinda like maybe I should figure out where this is going. Because obviously I felt where my heart was in that moment.”

Ray Fulcher Explains How College Papers Helped Him Understand the Art of Songwriting

During his time in graduate school is when he started to get serious about music. Fulcher started to perform shows where he mostly played cover songs. Then, he began to write his own material while figuring out a blueprint to creating songs. Interestingly enough, writing numerous argumentative essays in grad school helped Fulcher nail down song structures.

“Writing songs to me was a lot like… the way I made it make sense was, I was a history-education major and social science. And we wrote so many argumentative essays, these long 20-page papers,” Fulcher said on The Marty Smith Podcast. “What made it all click for me, for being a songwriter, I say to everybody. The first 100 songs you’re probably gonna write 100 ballads before you write your first good one. You just know that. So my first songs were not that great. But the way I made them make sense as far as structure, I was like, okay. All a song is is a really short argumentative essay that always points back to this one idea. And then it just rhymes and it’s got melody and it’s got this kinda scheme it stays in.”

“Sounds super easy,” host Marty Smith joked.

“Yea, totally,” Fulcher said with a laugh. “I was always a really good, for whatever reason, paper writer. You know in a song, it’s always pointing back to that hook. Like what do you want the listener to get out of it. Even if every single line doesn’t talk about the hook specifically, we’re getting back to it. That’s kind of the same thing i do in my [college essays]. That’s why I always say to people, ‘Hey, I’m not really using my diploma per se. But it helped me get here.’ Because without that understanding [of argumentative essays], I don’t think I would’ve understood how a song’s supposed to work either.”

Ray Fulcher talks about that and much more on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out his entire conversation below, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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