SongTown USA: Right Song, Right Place, Right Time

People often ask me what it takes to get a song cut. The answer, as I have thought about it, is "Right song, right place, right time."

My Kenny Chesney song, "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven" had been pitched around for months. People liked it.

Several put it on hold. It was actually on hold for a group called "Blue County" when Kenny Chesney called asking to cut it.

Prior to that, George Strait had cut the song but decided it was not right for the album he just recorded.

Kenny had cut an entire album and thought he was done. They decided he needed a fun first single that they didn't have yet. He remembered hearing the song because George had played it for him after he cut it. Kenny checked to see if the song made George's record. When he saw that it didn't, he called to ask if he could cut it.

George's people had released the song, so we checked in with "Blue County" to see if they still wanted it. They passed.

The rest is history. Kenny cuts it, it comes out as a single in about a month, and flies to #1.

As you can see, MOST of that whole saga was out of my control. If George Strait had never cut it and played it for Kenny, he never would have heard it. ALL of Kenny's people passed on the song multiple times.

If George hadn't dropped it, I might not have gotten a single. If Kenny had already cut a song similar to mine, it wouldn't have had a chance. So many factors could have prevented me from getting the cut, AND another #1 record.

I always keep coming back to the ONE thing I can control. The right song. If I write a GREAT song, then people will fight over it. If I write mediocre songs, I will have to fight people to get them to cut it.

I can work hard to get myself in the right places so that my songs get heard. There is some amount of that I can control. And, I can learn when artists are cutting and what they are looking for. That helps me know when the "right time" is for a given artist.

But I spend most of my time on the "right song" angle. I work hard to find great ideas. I don't give up on a song until it's as good as I can make it. I pay attention to what radio is playing so that I know what kinds of things I should write. My goal every day is to write a radio hit.

I believe that, if I write enough "right songs," they will find their place and time. Lightning will strike.

Don't stress out too much over being in the right place at the right time. That can drive you crazy. Work at writing better and better songs every day. Eventually, you will write great ones and they will find a home!

Marty Dodson

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 or visit

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