Why A Hit Songwriter Had To Learn To Eat Humble Pie!

Songwriter Humble pie


After writing my first hit song I thought I had arrived but songwriter humble pie wasn’t far behind…

About 11 years ago, when my son was eight, I was fortunate enough to have a new single on radio. I had moved to Nashville at 32, and eight years later, it was finally paying off with a song called “Fall,” sung by country superstar Clay Walker. People around town suddenly knew my name. The day after it cracked the top 5, my son’s school called and asked if I would come in and sing it for Garrett’s class. I was stoked!!

Garrett came home from school that day and I informed him of The Big News. “Garrett, I’m going to sing at your school next week.”

Well, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Silence…more silence…hmmmm. Then, he spoke these 8 words, “Dad, you just can’t play at my school.” I immediately understood. He was at that awkward age when his parents kind of embarrassed him. He said, “None of my friends like Country music.” I was a little crushed, but I put aside my feelings and agreed. I didn’t have to play at his school if he was uncomfortable with the idea.

A few months month later, however, I found out the same song “Fall” was recorded by Pop singer Kimberley Locke AND she was going to perform it on American Idol! ‰

Wow, that’s my son’s favorite show. So, I decided to surprise him and not spill the beans that it would be sung for a national audience. The night the show aired, we sat together watching. Kimberley nailed the song and announced it was her new POP single. Even Simon raved, “What a great song!”

Wow, even Simon dug the song. What were the odds???

When the show cut to commercial, I looked over at my son. He spoke in a deadpan tone, “You still can’t sing at my school, Dad.‰”

Songwriter Humble Pie to the face!

We laugh about it now. And just this morning I got a text from him.  “Dad, what songs have you written?” (Seems he’s met a friend at school who loves Country music.) Kids. They keep us HUMBLE!

Write on! ~Clay


Clay Mills is humble pie eater… and a co-founder of SongTown and a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter. He has 2 Grammy nominations and is the co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing. 



*If you’d like to hear the Country, AC, and Dance versions of “Fall,” just click below on each.

Fall- Clay Walker (Top 5 Country Hit)


Fall- Kimberly Locke (Top 15 Pop AC Hit)


Fall- Kimberly Locke (#1 Dance Hit)

19 thoughts on “Why A Hit Songwriter Had To Learn To Eat Humble Pie!

  1. I was sitting in the park playing with my young son, probably 11 or 12 years old. Some people were coming our way. He said, “Dad! Don’t sing like Bob Dylan!”
    But this is the same kid who watched me squeeze a ketchup package to put it individually on French fries, one at a time, and said, “Dad! You’re embarassing me!”
    My point being, you can’t let any one person’s opinion stop you from doing things your way.
    Not singing at his school was a good call. That social milieu, for him, was a big deal, and not doing something that could add a level of stress to his life was worth the sacrifice. I raise my glass to you for your sense of what was important in that choice.
    Songs should always be tried in different genres. I often rewrite for a female point-of-view. I often try it as a blues, with a jaunty country tempo, or any interpretation that occurs to me. A good Song can work in other genres.

  2. Yes, it’s our loved ones that always manage to keep us grounded and in the “real” world. Thanks for sharing this as a reminder and wow, beautiful song!

  3. I”m very much partial to the country version. Clay is an amazing singer; But the pop & dance versions are cool too. I haven’t herd this song before. Interesting to me that you used the same word “again” to end the first two lines in the song. You don’t hear that very often. As a writer I would generally try to stay away from doing that? OBVIOUSLY it works just fine in your song. Do you have a rule of thumb you woule generally follow in this regard?

    As always; great song and thanks for the inside info. 🙂
    P.S. I “did” go to my kids school to sing at a few Remembrance Day ceremonies. No “hit” song but they seemed to be ok with it. You just never know! 🙂

  4. It’s a small world!!. . I was playing in a cover band at a large country night club. Clay walker and gang came into the club after there gig in Fresno to unwind. On our break, someone one played “Fall”on the juke box. I immediately new it was Clay singing and said to him, you see, if I wrote a song like that, I wouldn’t need to play 60 songs a night in this nasty place!.

  5. I love hearing your stories. The life of a songwriter is not what you would expect and this illustrates that perfectly. Thanks Clay!

  6. You make me feel so much better Clay. My family are not Country music fans either, and don’t ask me about what I’m working on or to hear my latest songs, and that can be hard. Luckily I’m versatile, and I can get some kudos from an occasional Pop or Rock tune. I hate to think of myself as needy, but I do believe songwriters are more sensitive than regular earth folks, so I guess I’ll always be looking for those affirmations. I just gotta remember to keep everything in context, and that this too shall pass. And, eating a little Humble Pie never killed anyone.

    1. Ave,
      Bruce Hornsby tells a story about how, long before his record deal, he wrote and put together a rough demo for “The Way It Is”. He played it for his wife, and she said, “meh”. He was so disheartened that he threw the cassette into a drawer and forgot about it for a long time. Then he rediscovered it, decided he liked it, demoed it and that demo got him his deal, and the song went on to be #1.

      As humans, we’re wired to value the opinion of the significant people in our lives. That’s just “the way it is”. 🙂

  7. That is so cool Clay, I’m hoping to have that same scenario with my two girls who for now, do not care for country music, although, they have mentioned a bit here and there while I was sitting and writing, comment that they like that tune 🙂

    Thanks Clay

    1. I have 5 kids, all well into adulthood now. My oldest because I carried him everywhere in a backpack became a guitar freak because I was always going into guitar stores and his playpen was in the room where my I kept and played my guitar and amp. Well in the 90’s he was a teenager playing guitar in a garage band. He told me he hated country music. I was in the process of buying him a Les Paul for his upcoming high school graduation. The store where I was buying it had a flyer for an upcoming session or appearance of Fred Newell a session musician who played on one of the cable country shows. I made him go with me to Fred’s appearance. I won’t say it led him to abandon his regular music tastes but he became a country fan and I showed him some licks and how to learn them off the CD or radio. Ironically his high school garage band had a singer named Cole Corbin who was the son of a local Country Songwriter and Artist Bob Corbin of the Corbin Hanner Band. He got to meet Bob when they rehearsed at his house.

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