Although it may seem cliché to write music about being a musician, some of the very best songs to come out of country music over the years have been about that very topic. Whether artists are writing from the road, shining a light on the harsher realities of the music business or paying homage to the music that shapes them and the fans who love them, songs about being a musician are often full of vulnerable truths and deep meaning ... and sometimes, they're just a whole lot of fun.
"Big Star" is all about big dreams and pursuing them until they are big realities. Released as the fourth single off Kenny Chesney's 2002 album No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, "Big Star" is the story of a fairytale come true, and when it reached the No. 2 spot on the country charts, it likely was just that for writer Stephony Smith.
"Big Star" became even more iconic when Taylor Swift joined Chesney on at a tour stop; that moment is immortalized on is Live in No Shoes Nation album.
In more ways than one, "This Is Country Music" is the ultimate musician's song about music. Not only does Paisley reference almost a dozen iconic country songs in an homage to the many artists who came before him, "This Is Country Music" is also a love letter -- not just to Paisley's fans, but to country music fans as a whole. In fact, back when the song was released in 2010, Paisley told The Boot that the song is "my love song to my fans, who live all our songs every day, and to this industry, which produces this music that does become the soundtrack to people's lives."
Another stellar song about life on the road, "I Play the Road" is an ode to touring -- not because it takes musicians far from home, but because it brings them closer to their fans. While the boys of the Zac Brown Band are honest about how hard it is to leave their families, "I Play the Road" is their moment to celebrate the road that "brings us to the people / And they will be there waiting / Dancing young and old." Being a musician might be tough at times, but there's nothing better than sharing your music with people who love it too.
Being a musician isn't all fun and games, and in "This Town Gets Around," Price shines a spotlight on the darker side. With a feisty melody and fierce lyrics, Price's commentary on the seedier parts of the music industry may be harsh, but it's also true on more levels than one. From unwanted advances to a lost idealism, "This Town Gets Around" is all about the dashed expectations that come on your way to being a successful musician -- and the fact that Price won't let any of that crap get her down.
There is only one song that Moakler didn't write on his 2017 album Steel Town, but the singer-songwriter says "Suitcase" is one of the tracks to which he has the most "personal connection." Written by Thomas Rhett, Barry Dean and Luke Laird, "Suitcase" highlights the importance of time spent with the people we love, even if it's simple and without a "suitcase full of money." Music may be important, and being a musician might be your calling, but there's nothing quite as important as the one you love.
Lots of songs have been written about musicians on the road, but Cobb's impeccable "Come Home Soon" stands apart for its perfect balance of nostalgia and vulnerability. With intimately autobiographical lyrics and a quiet melody to back them, Cobb's skills as a songwriter and storyteller shine on this track about life on the road.
With "Good Ol' Boys Club," Musgraves pokes fun at a music industry that has often left her on the fringes, but she's actually happy about that. Like Price's "This Town Gets Around," "Good Ol' Boys Club" highlights the systematic patriarchy that's at the heart of many aspects of the business, but in a decidedly more lighthearted way. Even so, Musgraves' witty lyrics are only made sharper by her sweet-as-honey vocal delivery, as she bucks the good ol' nature of country music by giving listeners a true country original.
Similar to Musgraves, the guys of Midland aren't worried about fitting in with the mainstream, and "Check Cashin' Country" is their anti-establishment anthem of sorts. With a sound that's more honky-tonk than modern pop, Midland are just one of many bands who have popped up over the past few years to make country classic again. The problem is -- as they explain in the song -- there's not too much money or recognition in the name of their game quite yet. But that's what makes "Check Cashin' Country" so universal for true musicians: They're in it for the music, 'cause they "sure ain't in it for the money."
One of the things that Church does best is illustrate the power that music had in molding his own musicianship -- and nowhere does he do it better than in "Mistress Named Music." From his earliest memories of gospel hymns sung at church to a worn-out guitar of his own, "Mistress Named Music" takes listeners on Church's journey of "chasing this song" throughout the course of his life.
Alaina has often said that "Three" is her favorite song she's ever written, and after listening to the poignant track about life on the road and missing the life left behind, it's clear why the song is so personal for her. Alaina's been on the road since competing on American Idol when she was just 15 years old, and "Three" reveals an artist who's time in the industry hasn't made leaving home any easier. There's also a universal truth that most musicians will understand in the lyrics of "Three": even though it's hard, it's still exactly where Alaina is supposed to be.