Jack Ingram Still Loves His ‘Barbie Doll’
Jack Ingram has had his biggest success with songs that were written by somebody else — a fact that as a songwriter could be a little daunting. But at this stage in his career, he’s come to terms with the fact that the songs he writes may just be a little too personal to ever become big commercial hits. And he’s just fine with that.
“It’s funny, because I think the reason I got into this business was because of what I felt when I write a song,” Jack tells the Dallas Observer. “So as far as not having my name on the songs that have become hits for me, I’ve had to say, ‘Well, a lot of great things have happened to me because of those songs, so who cares?’ My job over the past five years has been to do what I need to do to make it work. Of course, it has to be a song I believe in. If I didn’t believe in a song and I cut it only because I thought it could be a hit, then I’d be a sellout. But if I love the song, then that’s all I need to know. I’m 40 years old now, and if I was going to be a legitimate hit songwriter, I’d already be that by now. I write personal songs that tend to make people feel uncomfortable, which are the kinds of songs I like. Most of the big hits in today’s country music don’t make people feel uncomfortable.”
Jack cites Waylon Jennings as an example of an artist being able to connect with and have hits with material he didn’t always write himself. “One time I was thinking about this very thing, and I was listening to a Waylon Jennings greatest hits compilation with over 40 songs on it or something like that. Out of all those songs, he had written only 9 or 10 of them, and I realized that you can pick songs that you didn’t write to fit you and to be true.”
And Jack will certainly keep writing hits himself, as songwriting is a passion he’s had for quite a long time. “Just knowing that you wrote a song, and you created something that wasn’t there before you started and finished it. That’s one of the most rewarding things that this business offers me,” Jack tells The Boot. “I can always remember the very first song I wrote. It was like, ‘Wow … I can do that!’ That’s a cool feeling.”
The Texas native admits that sometimes a song an artist is certain is a smash just doesn’t catch on at radio. Jack’s song ‘Barbie Doll,’ a longtime favorite in his live show, is a good example of that. “I decided to record that with Dierks Bentley and release it again, because I just knew that there was no way it wasn’t a hit song. By forcing the issue with it last year and getting to play it on the ACM Awards show and then seeing it not become a hit, I came to grips that it’s a hit song for me, even if it isn’t for anyone else. It’s a huge song for me live, so I’m fine with it being a hit just for me.”
Jack joined pal and former tour mate Jennifer Nettles for her fundraising concert last weekend at the University Of North Texas Performing Arts Center. Proceeds from the show went to Attic Community Playground Inc., a nonprofit co-directed by Jennifer that promotes partnerships between civic groups and musicians across the country.