Tucker Beathard: How Poetry Influences His Songwriting Process
Tucker Beathard may not have been a straight-A student in school, but the country singer says the poetry he read in his English classes has stuck with him. He continues to see connections between the processes of writing poems and writing songs.
"Edgar Allan Poe and [Henry David] Thoreau -- for some reason, all that stuff just made go in and annotate it," he explained to The Boot backstage at Country Jam 2018. "It just made me think about the metaphors, and what the authors meant by certain things."
The singer goes on to explain that both songwriting and poetry often require an emotional connection, on the part of the creator and on the part of the consumer. "I think, overall, the emotion [is a similarity between poetry and songwriting] -- whether that's about being super vulnerable or just about capturing the emotion that they're writing about. It's a structure of words that's really cool, in terms of how they do it in poetry, specifically."
Something about the artistic process of writing poetry connected with Beathard at a young age. He says it continues to affect his relationship with his own art form.
"Songwriting has always been something I loved," he says. "I love the different ways of saying things, and the fact that even if it doesn't seem super clear what you're talking about, people can interpret it in different ways. I think that's awesome."
Beathard puts that careful thought into his own music. Like Brantley Gilbert -- the rising country star's former tour boss and a mentor who Beathard says "leads by example" -- he has a strong rock edge and cares deeply about preserving the integrity of his music. This uncompromising commitment to sound, coupled with label complications, have made Beathard's path to sharing new music a struggle at times. After releasing "Rock On," a single that climbed to No. 4 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, in March of 2016, Beathard seemed poised for success: He put out his debut EP, Fight Like Hell, and had plans for a full-length album, called Dear Someone, in 2017.
However, problems that Beathard cited in an interview on the Bobby Bones Show as "creative differences" prevented Dear Someone from being released. "Basically, they were scared of the music I was making. It's not pop country, which seems to be the only way to get anything on the charts these days. That's kinda what they wanted: anything easy to promote," he said in an interview with NPR in November. (The frustrations Beathard expressed in that interview were in response to the slow process of recording the album and readying it for release; the interview was published before the decision was made not to put on the album on the planned release date.)
Beathard knows firsthand that not every great song gets played on the radio. As the son of songwriter Casey Beathard, who has written hits for Eric Church, Kenny Chesney, Trace Adkins and other artists, he grew up listening to his dad's catalog. "Honestly, some of his best songs were never cut," Beathard tells NPR. Beathard cites his dad as a fundamental influence for much of his songwriting style, especially its more poetic aspects: wordplay, sentence structure and the setup for a chorus that delivers a lyrical payoff.
Looking forward, Beathard hopes to release new music soon, although he says that might not happen just yet. "I'm in a transition period," he explains. "I spent the whole last year on the road, but I couldn't get new music out as fast as I wanted to. I'm kind of tired of touring without having the music to support it, so I'm working on that more.
"I had to re-evaluate a lot of things and find the right people that could support the music, so I had to take a step back and do what was the best thing for me," he says. "I'm in the process right now of making an album with nobody else on it, nobody affecting what I'm making, and I hope to be able to come out with it within the next couple of months."
There have been some benefits to having to go to bat, time and time again, for the sound that Beathard says is authentic to him: "I've learned a lot over the past few years," he goes on to say. "I've matured. I mean, I was 19 when I was signed. I've learned a lot about who I am as an artist."