Darden Smith Pens Powerful Song With Radney Foster
Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith has been making music for more than 40 years, but he has only recently recorded a project in Nashville, with the help of two of Music City's most renowned musicians.
"I’ve been going to Nashville since around ’94 and co-writing, and I realized that I was putting together all these songs that seemed to fit," he explains to CMT. "Two people are really responsible for this record happening — Radney Foster and Jon Randall Stewart. Both those guys are so talented and amazing at what they do. About five years ago, I went, 'I want to make a record with Jon,' and we’ve been talking about making this record for five years."
Smith credits Foster with helping him pen what might be the most personal song of his career, 'Angel Flight.' Smith had the idea for the song after a soldier informed him the term refers to the flying the body of a deceased soldier home, but it took Foster's help to make the powerful tune come to life.
"I was booked and was going to write the song and make a recording, and I was, like, three days overdue," he recalls. "I was in Nashville at Radney’s house, and after dinner, I went into his studio to write the song. I was about a verse and a-half and a chorus into the song, and I was completely stuck. Radney came out into the studio to get a guitar or something, and I said, 'Please, please sit down and help me finish this song. I need help.' He sat down, and within 30 minutes, we had the rest of the song written."
The song inspired Smith to start the Songwriting With Soldiers program, which enables him to help soldiers put their life story to song. "I got a phone call from a guy who wanted me to write a theme song for his organization which helps soldiers transition from military to civilian life," Smith explains. "I told him, 'I can write a theme song for you, but it’ll be really boring ... What I can do is come out and write it with your soldiers.' I’m really curious and like writing songs with people who don’t write songs. You just take their stories and make songs with them. I went out and did this and had this really powerful experience. I realized that there’s a real great project, and that became Songwriting With Soldiers, where we use our craft of collaborative songwriting in service to these soldiers."