Scotty Emerick is as straightforward and no-nonsense as his songs. That’s a rare quality in a man with a repertoire like his, but a welcome one. With massive hits like Toby Keith’s number one “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight,” Emerick has earned his bragging rights — he’s just choosing not to exercise them.
Emerick’s songwriting beginnings can be traced all the way back to his youth playing Moose Lodges and VFW Halls around his home state of Florida. “I came to songwriting just from playing music all my life, I guess,” Emerick says. “It was just natural.” After a stint in firefighter school, Emerick's love of music took over and led him to Nashville where he soon found himself signed on with Mark Miller’s Travelin’ Zoo Music and writing songs for Sawyer Brown, including the band’s 1995 hit “I Don’t Believe In Goodbye.” Between then and 1999, Emerick racked up a number of cuts, including George Strait’s"If It's Gonna Rain" and several tunes for Bryan White and Ronnie Milsap.
After signing on with Sony/ATV Tree’s Big Yellow Dog Music in 2000, Emerick began working with Toby Keith — a relationship that spawned five tunes on Keith’s Pull My Chain and seven songs on Keith’s latest, Unleashed, including the Keith/Willie Nelson duet “Beer for My Horses.”
“I believe in magic,” Emerick says of songwriting. “The best songs I’ve ever been a part of have just fallen out of the sky. It’s hard to describe how they happen. A good idea is the biggest starting point.” Laughing, he adds, “Sometimes, writings some songs is like pulling teeth. Other ones just fall out.”
He takes a similar approach to co-writing. “It’s different with everybody just because everybody’s different. But, it’s all the same, really. I get to write with my heroes. Great songwriters like John Scotty Sherrill, Dave Loggins and Red Lane.”
And what about hearing Willie Nelson sing one of your songs? “Oh, man that’s a trip,” he laughs. “He’s one of my biggest influences. Willie’s what I strive to be. He’s done so many songs in so many genres but he just makes them all his own.” In his typically understated way, Emerick sums up not only Willie’s approach, but his own. “It’s all about the music.”
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