1. The story behind ALABAMA’s #1 single “IN PICTURES”
This song was born after walking into my song plugger Bobby Boyd’s office at BMG Music Publishing, located on the second floor of 1 Music Circle North, sometime in 1992. He had a new photo of his son, who I believe lived in Texas, on the window ledge in his office. I remarked, “that boy is getting big”, Bobby’s somewhat mournful response was “yeah, I’m watching him grow in pictures.” I immediately made a mental note, that sure sounds like a good song idea, but I didn’t say anything about it and went about our typical conversation, about who knows what.
I soon took a trip back home to Rhode Island to visit with my family and on these visits, I usually stayed with one of my sisters, who had recently begun having children and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the little ones. On the flight back to Nashville, I began to think of how sad it would be if they were my own kids and I only got to see them a few times a year, missing out on all their childhood milestones. First steps, first words and so on. Which of course, led me back to the phrase Bobby had uttered; “yeah, I’m watching him grow in pictures.” The next day I stayed home and sat at the baby-grand in the converted garage of our old house in Kingston Springs and the chorus “I missed her first steps, her first words and I love you daddy is something I seldom heard, oh it hurts me so to watch my baby grow, up in pictures”, just fell out. I remember thinking to myself; this is a good “verse”. Shows how much I knew.
The next time I stopped in the office to visit with Bobby, I told him I had used something he had said to me in conversation in a song and had a chorus and some verse ideas mapped out. I politely asked if he didn’t mind me using what he had said to me. Over the next week or two I would stop in and ask him what he thought of my latest ideas and we discussed the realities of the situation I was attempting to write about.
In a short period of time after demoing the song, Linda Davis recorded a wonderful, heart felt version for her Arista debut CD, produced by John Guess. As luck would have it, Alabama would hear her version listening to her CD “Shoot for the Moon” while driving the through the Georgia mountains and decided to record it themselves and make it the title track of their 1995 RCA release. It would become a #1 Country single in December of 1995.
In December of 2014, Craig Wayne Boyd performed the song on the finale of “The Voice.” Craig went on to win the competition and released “In Pictures” as a digital single, peaking at #3 in digital sales. What a beautiful surprise!
2.The story behind RHETT AKINS’ Top 10 Single “SHE SAID YES”
Rhett had an artist development deal on Warner Bros. records with A&R staff member, Paige Levy. Sometime in 1993 or 1994. I had recently pitched songs to Paige for consideration to be recorded by members of her stable of artists. She liked one particular song “It Ain’t Easy Being Me” which I had written with my friend Joe Collins. Paige kept the song in her “good songs” file to play for her artists in the future, who were searching for material. She eventually played it for Rhett, he liked it, which led to our co-writing appointment at 1012 16th Avenue South, a short time later. The building was rented to The Malloy Boys, a co-venture with BMG, owned by Jim and David Malloy who had much success with producing Eddie Rabbit, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton among many other hit artists.
Upon sitting down for our co-write, Rhett played me what he had started of what would become his Top Ten Single “She Said Yes”. I liked the verse he had begun and agreed the title of the song could provide us with a suitable destination for a good song. One of the most memorable moments in writing the song that day, was when I thought of the line; “they lit a flame with the match that God had made” to precede the hook; “…when She Said Yes”. I will never forget the look on Rhett’s face as he said to me “you Yankees are good for something.” This of course, because Rhett was from Southern Georgia and I, originally hailing from Rhode Island.
After completing the song, to celebrate, Rhett and I stopped into a Music Row watering hole called “Toucan’s”, which was located at 26 Music Square East, in the same building that would later house “Sammy B’s” and “Figlio’s On The Row.” While there, we struck up a conversation with songwriting legend Harlan Howard, who proceeded to warn Rhett of the pitfalls of making a habit of stopping in for a “cool one” after co-writes too often. Rather ironic, considering Harlan’s frequency of haunting the same type of establishments for similar purposes. RIP Harlan.
After a short period of time we demoed the song and pitched it around a little. It was put on hold by legendary producer Jerry Crutchfield for his artist Tracy Byrd, who was at the height of his career at the time. As young writers we were obviously excited at the possibility of Tracy recording the song, but as often happens, he eventually passed on the song. In the mean time, Rhett had left his development deal with Warner Bros. and had secured a deal with the newly re-opened Decca Label, a subsidiary of MCA Records. Mark Wright produced Rhett’s album and “She Said Yes” was the 4th single released after two false starts and on the heels of his first radio hit “That Ain’t My Truck. “She Said Yes” was released in October of 1995 and eventually peaked in the Top Ten after six months on the charts in April of 1996.
Years later, I discovered that Clay Akins, the former American Idol contestant and successful recording artist had recorded a version of our song and submitted it to be considered for the show. Funny what you can find on YouTube. ☺