Singer-Songwriters Discuss the Importance of a ‘Good Hang’

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed country music legend, Gary Chapman, singer-songwriter Chris Wallin, and new country music artist Alexis Wilkins in studio to discuss the songwriting community in Nashville.

Leahy: In studio, Alexis Wilkins.

Wilkins: Hello.

Leahy: Chris Wallin, singer-songwriter, and Gary Chapman.

Chapman: Indeed.

Leahy: And so here we are. We are, in a way, on the radio, kind of replicating the conservative or the songwriting community of Nashville, Tennessee. There’s so much to learn about this, and let’s start out with sort of the relationships that build this songwriting community, the old, the new, how it got started, how it keeps going. And let me start off with Gary Chapman.

Chapman: Go.

Leahy: So now in studio, Chris Wallin. I knew you guys separately, and then when I told Gary, well, I’m talking with Chris, and he’s my friend, and we’re going to have him on, he said, well, I’ve known Chris forever. When did the two of you first meet, and why are you such good friends? And I guess that’s sort of an example of the camaraderie among songwriters here in Nashville.

Chapman: So we’ve known each other forever. And when did forever begin? I think it was back when Moby Dick was just a minnow.

Wallin: He was a minnow.

Chapman: Tiny little things.

Wallin: The Dead Sea Scrolls were just sick at the time.

Leahy: Okay, so both of you are almost as old as I am. I’m older.

Chapman: I’m older than you are.

Leahy: No, you’re not. I’m 67.

Chapman: Oh, dang it. I’m 65. But twelve on the inside.

Leahy: This is why we dominate the over 50 audience of a million.

Chapman: We relate.

Wallin: We relate.

Leahy: Because, you know, there’s always opportunities for growth. Alexis Wilkins here in studio, is the only person in this studio, I think, what, you’re under 25?

Wilkins: Yes, under 25.

Leahy: So did you and Chris Wallen meet here in Nashville doing some songwriting stuff before Alexis was born?

Chapman: I believe so. Yes.

Wallin: I’m sure it was.

Chapman: Was it Aaron Barker that was it down in Key West at the thing?

Wallin: It might have been.

Chapman: I don’t know that it was not.

Leahy: You all were hanging out in Key West?

Wallin: Yes.

Leahy: Alexis, have you ever been to Key West?

Wilkins: No, I have not.

Chapman: BMI does a Songwriters Festival thing.

Wallin: Just to let you guys know that’s listening out there, Alexis is sitting in here between me and Gary, and it looks like you made a pretty sandwich using ugly bread. (Laughter) Just for a visual.

Leahy: By the way, I don’t know if our audience could bear this, but we may add a video component of the anti-woke Tennessee Star Report.

Chapman: Oh, you should actually.

Leahy: That one the camera will be focused on Alexis.

Wilkins: Oh, my gosh.

Leahy: And then the audio will be the rest of us.

Wilkins: It’s 720 in the morning. The video is not that good over here.

Chapman: No, but let’s be honest, it’s 7:20 to everybody. (Laughter)

Leahy: That’s one of the reasons why, if you’ve ever seen, like, in any radio studio, when the host comes in at 5:00 in the morning, death warmed over would be a kind description of what they look like. (Laughter)

And that certainly applies to me. But let’s go back to this camaraderie and then also how somebody enters that group. Do you become friends because you sit do you actually have songwriting sessions? Do you go to the place where you write songs and you sit down and you just drink some coffee or other adult beverages and just start writing?

How does that process work? And then at what point do you say, this is a cool person and I like working with this person? And then now Alexis here is just under 25. She’s part of this now. But how does somebody new enter that community, Gary Chapman?

Chapman: Carefully. Carefully. Enter carefully. No, it really is relationship driven.

Wallin: It really is.

Chapman: Michael, it’s not any different than the first time you and I met. Part of you said, yeah, he’s cool. Part of me said, yeah, he’s cool. And we leaned in a little bit, and then over time you get to know somebody.

Leahy: Can conservatives lean in? I thought the only leaning was leaning forward among the left.

Chapman: No. You lean in toward each other unless we find a reason to withdraw.

Leahy: But I had a reason to do that, Gary. I had a reason to like you from the beginning. And the reason is…

Chapman: Tennessee Christmas.

Leahy: You’re a great songwriter and a great performer, and I’ve talked about your song Tennessee Christmas that you wrote influenced me and my wife in moving to Tennessee.

Chapman: There’s a ton of great songwriters and great singers that I don’t like.

Leahy: Really?

Wallin: True.

Chapman: Absolutely.

Wallin: You can be an amazing songwriter and just be a jerk.

Leahy: A miserable SOB.

Chapman: Yes, absolutely. But if you’re good enough, I’m still going to co-write with you.

Leahy: That shallow.

Chapman: After we’re done writing though, we may not go get that adult beverage you were talking about.

Leahy: There you go.

Wilkins: It’s like the whole good hang thing.

Leahy: This is the word new to me.

Chapman: “Good hang.”

Leahy: Tell us, what does a “good hang” mean? What’s that Alexis Wilkins?

Wilkins: You know, it’s funny because I’ve laughed about this for a long time because they’re just people you like, I don’t know, working with and hanging out with, and you kind of don’t know why the phrase around town has been kind of like, oh, yeah, they’re a good hang.

Leahy: I’ve never heard that word until 10 seconds ago.

Wilkins: It is funny because you go to any other job and you want to like people that you work with, ideally, but it’s not like a job requirement. I know that. (Leahy laughs) You want people to like you want to like your coworkers, but you’re not going to like everybody.

But I feel like in Nashville especially, because I don’t know if it’s because we’re working together creatively or what but a good hang has become important.

Chapman: To be successful creatively, there’s a line of vulnerability that you have to just erase by your own hand. You go, yeah, okay, I’m going to let them in.

You have to really get transparent and say what you’re really thinking. You got to do that. When you do that, some people will honor it and some people will dishonor it. If somebody dishonors it.

Leahy: If someone dishonors it, it’s sort of like, ‘I’ll never work with you again.’

Wilkins: That’s not a good hang.

Wallin: You have to put it all out on the table. Especially when you’re writing you have to be willing to just put all of your thoughts and everything and talk about things pertaining to the feeling you’re trying to get out in a song. And it’s very revealing.

Chapman: Honest to goodness. I wrote a song years ago called Everything I Know because it occurred to me that the giant lessons in life that I had learned, all of the big ones were a direct result of some boneheaded choice that I had made. (Laughter)

And the hook in it is, everything I’ve learned in life, the stupid things in life has taught me everything I know, I forget. Obviously, it’s a great hook because I can’t remember it, but that is the truth, because you’ve got to reveal yourself. You have to.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alexis Wilkins” by Alexis Wilkins. 

 

 

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