SongTown USA: Preparing for Luck

I have had people describe some of my successes as "luck." I suppose there is some truth to that, but I prefer to think that I have put myself in a position to be lucky time and time again.

One example would be my Kenny Chesney #1, "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven." The day I wrote it, I walked into Jim Collins’ office - step one in putting myself in position for "luck" to strike. Jim has had multiple #1 songs and is a GREAT writer. He's one of the best writers I get to write with. So, just being in the room was increasing my chances of getting lucky.

When I asked Jim what he wanted to write that day, he said, "Let's write something fun with a reggae feel." I have all of my song ideas in a database where I can quickly sort and search through them. (Step two in my "get in position to be lucky" plan). I searched my database for "reggae" and found one title that I had saved up - "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven."

I threw the idea at Jim, and off we went. We left that first day happy with what we wrote. The following day, Jim called and said, "I think we need a bridge." So, we got together early one morning and wrote a bridge. (Step three in putting myself in the position to get lucky - being critical of my songs and making sure they are right before I demo them). We also decided to make one line in the chorus change each time. Both were BIG improvements to the song.

I believe with that song, I did everything I could possibly do to let luck strike and take us to the top. After we demoed the song, the rest was out of our hands.

George Strait heard the song and recorded it. Then he decided not to put it on his album. In the meantime, he played everything he had cut for Kenny Chesney one day on his bus.

When George's album came out, Kenny remembered my song and realized that George had not used it. So, Kenny called asking if he could record it. The rest is history. Two weeks at #1 and a big old hit. Lots of luck involved? You bet!!

But before the lightning could strike, I had to position myself under a cloud and get my kite in the air. That part was up to me. The rest of it was luck, fate, or whatever you would choose to call it

The moral of the story, I believe, is that people who work hard and put themselves in position to succeed always seem to be the luckiest.

Go figure.

If you feel like you have been “unlucky” with you writing, then take a look at what you are doing to put yourself in the position for something good to happen. Work harder on great ideas, broaden your circle of co-writers. Get to know more people that can help you make something happen. And write. A lot. The more songs you write, the better writer you will become AND you will have more chances at catching the lightning when it strikes.

Write on.

Check out the video for “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” here:

Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Follow him here:, at and at Twitter @SongTownUSA.

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