Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hayslip has a way with words

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A rare inside look at Ben Hayslip and his friends. It’s Luke Bryan clowning around with him in the dressing room at The Ryman during ‘A Night Of Georgia Music’ show. Pictured from left are Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson, Hayslip and Rhett Akins. They do the show for a fundraiser. Photo courtesy Ben Hayslip

He likes to hang out on his Lebanon farm and wet a hook in his pond with his kids around.

He coaches his 10-year-old son, Knox's, baseball team and has mentored and coached his other sons and young players for years.

He likes jeans, boots and a cap.

Husband of Melissa, and dad to also Tarver and Camden, Ben Hayslip is just a guy living life and making memories.

Oh. But wait.

This rather reclusive, behind the scenes, under the radar guy, recently penned his 17th song to hit the No. 1 stratosphere on the country music chart this week.

The song he wrote, "Mind Reader," sung by buddy Dustin Lynch, hit No. 1, and, at this very same time country heartthrob Luke Bryan's song, which Hayslip also wrote called "Hunting, Fishin and Lovin Everyday," hit No. 6 this week. No doubt it'll soon hit No. 1 as well.

Way with words

No doubt, Hayslip has a way with words.

Growing up, he dreamed of a time when a song he wrote would play on the radio. That dream morphed into his career as one of Nashville's most awarded and prolific country music songwriters. While Hayslip was a sports kid, in his spare time he wrote songs. He ditched a chance to coach football at major private schools and be a weekend sportscaster.

Instead, Hayslip "slipped" to Nashville, not on a wild hair, but seriously, to pursue a career in songwriting.

That was 1994. He knew even then there was a 1-percent chance for songwriters to ever "make it."

Obviously he defied those odds

Hayslip and his co-writers, Rhett Akins and Dallus Davidson (also of their group Peach Pickers), have penned country music's No. 1 hits which smashed the Country Music Associations Billboard, Mediabase and Music Row with hits written for Blake Shelton ("Honey Bee," "All about Tonight," "I'll Just Hold On"), Luke Bryan's No. 1 "I don't want this to End" and this week's top charter for Bryan, "Huntin' Fishin and Lovin."

Hayslip said he never gets tired of penning lyrics for country's biggest artists.

"'Mind Reader' was my 17th song to reach No. 1," he said.

How the song came to be is rather ironic.

"My cowriter, Rhett Akins, came into the writing room the morning we wrote and talked about a girl he'd met the night before."

Long story short, Rhett was a bit shaken by his feelings and said the girl could "read his mind."

"Rhett's not really the kind to settle down, so he was a little scared that he liked her too much," Hayslip said. "I jokingly told him that was the last thing he needed was a mind-reading girl... So, we basically started with that and decided that 'Mind Reader' would be a good title and we wrote the song.

Side note: Haylsip added, "Thank goodness that the song turned out better than the relationship did."

And so it goes for Hayslip. Small anecdotes, memories and more turn into hits. He says there's "no magic formula" for writing hit songs.

Sometimes he writes for the singer, and sometimes he doesn't. He likes singers he has something in common with.

"People who speak the same language as me," he said.

Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton are a couple of artists for whom he likes to write. Jason has recorded five of his songs, and Blake has over 10.

Hayslip said Thomas Rhett is an up-and-comer to watch and has several No. 1's under his belt. He said Cole Swindell is taking country music by storm now.

"Country music is in a very good place right now for songwriters," said Hayslip.

He grew up with all kinds of music, from Hank Williams Jr., Randy Travis and George Strait. He also loves Otis Redding and even Run DMC.

"I was all over the map musically," he said. "Country music is that way these days. There's a little bit of everything. That allows us as writers to pretty much do whatever we wanna do, and there's a good shot that it'll find a home if it's good enough!"

And Hayslip is good enough.

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