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Backstory: "Words Are Medicine"

on 17 Jul 2018, 05:09 PM
  • zac

I've decided to do a few short backstory blogs about some songs I've written over the years. I wanted to come up with super catchy name and settled on…um, backstory.

Here's the first about a song I co-wrote with the incredibly talented David Hodges and songwriter hall of famer, Tom Douglas. The song went on to appear on a Tim McGraw album and I play it at most writer rounds cause I just really dig it. It was written at David's writing room/studio at a condo near downtown Nashville before he became a full time Nashvillian (he's ok but enough already L.A.). The three of us have written now around 15 songs together and even more separately. This was somewhere in the midway point of our writing. I remember the spark of this one clearly. Tom had just caught a lecture by a filmmaker and in the midst of what I imagine to be fascinating historical tidbits of wisdom he did what a lot of us writers do; stop in our tracks at something someone said (think that's #11 on the list of "Songs: Where do they come from?"). I don't know the exact chain in Tom's mind but essentially the speaker said, in some way, that words could heal. This nugget led Tom to walk into our writing room that day and offer up that simple and crucial idea.

Words can heal.
Words are medicine.

We all thought the concept was beautiful but how the hell would we make that last not so 'off the tongue' word flow. Medicine.

After much back and forth we just embraced it. Worked backwards to create "hear your voice again…words are medicine". Tom quickly spouted off some verse lines about some characters that could be healed. That led to all of us throwing out lists of more and more; personal favorites "the mortician, beautician, blind-sided, the night vision" (NOTE: we threw in a catchphrase for a certain Tuscaloosa based college football team. The Okie that I am replaces that with "boomer, sooner" when I sing it; rhyme scheme be damned). The bridge came easy too. That was all about us just straight up agreeing: we need some badass words and phrases: "I do, imagine, I have a dream, I love you". You know, the good ones. Some songs take a few sessions. Some just come. This one just came into that little room and found its way to the world by the three of us.

There you go: the backstory for "Words Are Medicine".