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From Bon Jovi to Bird Dogs

There's this enigma in writing referred to as "voice."  Although much has been written/said about it, no one seems to be able to put an exact definition on it other than to say, "I know it when I read it." 

I'll save my boring definition for another post, but I will reiterate, "I know it when I read it."  If you hand me a passage from a Hemingway novel, I'd know it was Hemingway whether you told me or not.  A more contemporary example, I could probably identify John Green's work as well.  Some writers just have a personality and phrasing, a style in their work that makes it identifiable.  I'd like to think THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY has voice.  You can make that assessment come this fall.

I find songwriters, probably because they're writers, have distinct  voices.  I can usually pick out a Dolly Parton lyric, and I consider myself an expert at identifying a John Rich song.  I'm getting pretty good at Brett James.  He wrote the song (along with Bill Luther) "I Love My Old Bird Dog" which Crossin' Dixon delivers in the video in the previous post.

Brett James is an Oklahoma boy who was the ASCAP 2006 Songwriter of the Year.  He penned Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take The Wheel" as well as country hits by Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, and a host of others.  He's also written with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

What I like about his writing and what I find distinguishable is James's ability to root big, abstract concepts in simplistic, everyday details:  I love my old bird dog, I love to watch him run/ I love my red guitar I bang around on some/ And I love you.   James builds an epic love song through the comfortable and familiar.  No easy task in fewer than 250 words.

Support Brett and check out his other music by visiting his myspace page www.myspace.com/brettjamesmusic

And don't forget to tell him the Wonkytonk sent you!