Posted from the journal archives written on November 9, 2014 and revised June 16, 2018
I wrote a song with Garth Brooks called “She’s Tired of Boys,” and as of November 11, 2014, you can hear it as part of his Man Against Machine comeback album.
While it’s amazing for any songwriter to get a cut by Garth Brooks, it’s especially special to me because of our history together.
See, my dad, Kim Williams wrote a lot of hit songs with Garth back in his early days including “Papa Loved Mama,” “She’s Gonna Make It,” “New Way To Fly,” and the fly across the arena favorite, “Ain’t Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up.”
I first met Garth back in the early ‘90s or maybe even the late ‘80s at a demo studio here in Nashville called County Q.
Early picture of Kim Williams (dad), Garth Brooks, and Larry Williams (uncle)
He showed up in sweat pants, high top tennis shoes untied, a baseball cap, and a long black trench coat to cover it all up. I remember because I thought he looked cool.
Plus, he spent a few extra minutes hanging out with me in between takes. He watched me play Nintendo, asking questions about what this or that was, and taught me how to throw my first hand of darts. Pretty neat guy, I thought.
When he left the studio, my dad excitedly asked my mom and I what we thought about Garth. Mom shook her head and said consolingly, “Well, Kim. I don’t know. He don’t look like no star to me.” Of course, Dad has never let her forget those words.
A lot of years later, Dad included my name on a song he wrote with Keith Anderson and George Ducas called “Beer Run.” I told Dad the college kids had a new saying when they wanted to go on a beer run. They spelled it out like a game.
Scarecrow Album by Garth Brooks
He loved “B double e double r u n” as a song hook and went off to write it with his buddies. Against my protestation, he split his third of the writers’ credit with me, and just like that, I became a writer on a Grammy nominated Garth Brooks/George Jones duet.
Not long after that, Sony Tree signed me as a country staff writer under Donna Hilley, legendary song woman, and a mentor of my dad’s.
The truth was that when I got that first big cut, I really wasn’t prepared for the life of a professional songwriter.
I didn’t know anything about the discipline and work ethic or commercial expectations required to be a professional songwriter, and honestly didn’t start a habit of daily writing until I was signed to my first publishing deal at Sony.
But over the years, and through the tears – living the ups and downs and all arounds of being a professional songwriter in Nashville, I learned how to do it.
A lot more struggle, and I could actually do it pretty well.
Trudging onward, I developed a unique style, and was able to help other people become successful, and find breaks into the industry through my contacts and relationships.
It felt good to help others, but I got kind of distracted in that, too, at the expense of my own development at times.
Skip ahead to the Leadership Music awards on August 23, 2009, Garth was presented with the Dale Franklin Award – an award for music industry professionals “who embody the highest quality of leadership and leading by example.”
During his acceptance speech, Garth said something that rattled my bones and struck a chord in me that could not be ignored.
On the stage, he spoke about the importance of songwriting, for the love of the music – about giving to the fans what they want and need, and what you feel you must give them as an artist.
And about the rest, he said, “When are we going to stop letting other people tell us what to do with our songs? We create this stuff! We should say what happens to it.”
At that point, I was writing for a publisher, and the money I was earning did not cover my monthly bills.
As a grown woman, my twins and I were being subsidized by my parents’ income. It was humiliating, and humbling, and when Garth stood up there and said those empowering words, my heart was struck aflame with purpose.
I would design a new system of music publishing that would support writers in a whole new way.
I would help them be self sufficient, develop their writing, earn and collect their own royalties streaming from their own content, and I would fulfill the legacy of being a “songwriter’s daughter” once and for all.
With this burning in my heart, the following year, I was able to launch Hillbilly Culture LLC my own publishing company, with a philanthropic mission to educate songwriters about the craft and business of songwriting.
The company has grown slowly, mostly by design, and partly by luck, but what started as the Hillbilly Culture Club December 1, 2010 has turned into the force of nature called Songpreneurs.
Our International community membership is growing, and our extended community reaches 6 countries and has the active participation of more than a thousand “songpreneurs” – songwriter entrepreneurs who are all working toward this vision.
All these years, I had never reached out to Garth to tell him how awesome I thought he was, or how much I appreciated what he has done for my family, but after some turbulent times in the Williams family, which resulted in me not seeing Garth induct my dad into the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame in 2012, I finally reached out to Garth in August of 2013.
It probably took me an hour to write the email, and when I did send it, I was surprised to get a reply from Garth not 10 or 15 minutes later.
Over the course of the next few months, even more amazing was the fact that he asked me to send him some songs, and eventually offered to help me work on revising one of them.
Honestly, I was starting to think that the person on the other end of the email was an imposter who knew I thought he was Garth and was messing with me.
But not long after that, he sent me a work tape singing the song he was helping me revise, and I about fell out in the floor.
No mistaking that voice. It was Garth Brooks for sure. Unbelievable. He was mentoring me.
One day, Garth asked me if I would help him finish a song he was writing.
He had already asked my dad for permission to write the tune with me out of respect, and because the song is pretty racy, meant to be an answer song to “That Summer.”
We were able to work out most of the song via email (a hard way to write for sure) and finished it up in person after it was nearly complete.
The result was the tune “She’s Tired of Boys,” which you can purchase as part of the Man Against Machine album, the Ultimate Hits Box Set, or stream on Amazon Music.
So what does it mean to be under the influence of Garth?
I can honestly say that my life is in large part a product of the influence Garth had on my family and my career path.
Without him, my dad wouldn’t have had such a stellar career – though he would have still had a good one as a songwriter with other artist’s cuts (including Reba, Tim McGraw, and Alan Jackson.)
Kim Williams in his study
I might not have been afforded the opportunity of graduating from Berklee College of Music, or of interning in my dad’s Sony co-publishing venture.
Without Garth’s influence, I wouldn’t have the incredible role model I have to look up to – not only in leadership, songwriting, performing, and philanthropy, but also in courage, perseverance, marketing, planning, strategy, and just genuine caring about what happens to others, especially songwriters.
Garth has been one of the brightest guiding lights of my life, and I am so honored to be a part of his come back album as co-writer on the song “She’s Tired of Boys.”
It means more than just a song on an album.
It’s a chance to prove myself as a writer to my family, to my critics and champions, to my kids, and really, to myself.
It stands for a culmination of what Garth said on that Leadership Music stage back in 2009 when he challenged me and the rest of that room full of hopefuls to chart our own course in the field of music publishing, and to be a self published songwriter on a major label cut.
There are a lot of influences I can point to who have helped me along this music career path, but none more important and lasting than being under the influence of Garth Brooks.
I was at the Target the first day the album was available for purchase, and later signed up for Amazon Music to listen to the whole Garth online digital catalog.
My name next to Garth’s as co-writers on the tune we wrote together – a tune that will change my life all over again thanks to GB.
Go check out “She’s Tired Of Boys” written by Garth Brooks and Amanda Williams on Amazon Music here >>
Here’s Amanda’s cover of “Papa Loved Mama” written by Garth and Kim Williams
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