There is nothing better than seeing the good guys win in the Country Music industry and Wyatt McCubbin is without a doubt one of those guys. In just one conversation with Wyatt, I could tell the man is a genuine guy who cares about making good music and does it for all the right reasons. Wyatt McCubbin is an early favorite to be at the forefront of UPstar. Music's 2023 Artists to Watch as his career is about to explode with his crisp voice and top tier songwriting. As a songwriter, Wyatt is as elite as they come. He has penned songs for Riley Green, Dustin Lynch, Cody Johnson, Josh Ward, Jacob Bryant, Jake Bush, Kenton Bryant, Triston Marez, Drew Parker, Brent Cobb and Tracy Lawrence, along with others. I guess you could say the guy knows how to write a damn good song. I sat down with Wyatt and talked about his single "I Can't Count That High", how a broken arm was the gateway for his music career and all of the individuals who took a chance on him early on in his career.
Get To Know Wyatt
"I'm from southwestern Ohio, a small town called Selma, Ohio. That's where I'm from, but it's outside of a town called South Charleston which is where I went to school. Most people would be more familiar with Springfield or Dayton, Ohio. My family moved to Ohio from Kentucky for work. I come from a blue collar family, all ironworkers. If I didn't break my arm playing football in 7th grade, I would probably have been a 4th generation ironworker. I was always into sports - football and baseball were always my thing. I wasn’t good at them, I just liked playing. When I broke my arm, it was really bad. It required a few surgeries to put in pins and plates and then have them taken out. I was told I needed some form of physical therapy. I was given the option to come in and do therapy at the hospital or do something like taking guitar lessons. To me learning the guitar sounded fun so I did that. If not for breaking my arm, I would never have picked up a guitar or anything like that... the only music I have in my family is distant. We would go to some family reunions on my mom's side and certain parties and I had some cousins that played Country Music, like Ol' Hank Williams songs. It always amazed me, but never made me want to pick up a guitar. That's how I got into music... I like to call it "a lucky break".
I came to Nashville for the first time at 14 years old. Out of the blue, I wound up with a management deal that led to a relationship with a songwriter which helped me come to town right out of high school at 17. I came down here and started working with writers. That was 10 years ago. For the first 6 years or so, I was back and forth from Ohio to Nashville every other week. I would play gigs back home and do some things in Nashville like writer's rounds. I also worked at a radio station near Dayton, Ohio every weekend. I would get done with a radio show on a Sunday night and come down to Nashville for a week to write songs and then go back up to Ohio. When me and my wife got married 3 years ago I finally made the move to Nashville full time. With all the relationships I've made, it led to some great opportunities with two publishing deals. I'm now signed with 50 Egg Music and Tape Room Music which has been a huge blessing."
A Song We Can All Relate To...
I can't lie, I'm a sucker for a meaningful song that really strikes you in the heart. In a world where some (not all) Country Music is being watered down and all about a catchy chorus that gets people dancing, Wyatt McCubbin is keeping the roots of good storytelling alive. "I Can't Count That High" isn't a song with hidden meanings and a cryptic message. It is simple, sweet and authentic about being thankful for the life you live - with good people around you and living a great life with more things than you ever imagined. It is a beautifully produced song with a laid back vibe that gives an intimate feel between you and the lyrics being sung. An absolute masterpiece and one of my favorite songs out right now. Wyatt McCubbin is a name you will be hearing a lot of in the next few years.
Inspiration Behind "I Can't Count That High"
Written By: Wyatt McCubbin, Jonathan Singleton and Casey Beathard
Produced By: Ashley Gorley & Jonathan Singleton
"Like I said, when I was back and forth between Ohio and Nashville, I had a lot of time on my hands in the car to think about ideas. But when I finally moved here, I realized that time was cut short because of just writing everyday. So a lot of weekends I'll sit on the patio at my apartment, have a guitar out there with me and think of ideas. The idea for this song came from the most genuine place - me thinking about being a guy who doesn't deserve to be here most days and being so lucky, blessed, fortunate, whatever your word is. I literally got to think about how many blessings I have in my life. Day after day you can't even touch them all. By the time I realized what I was thinking about, I mumbled "I Can't Count That High". I had a little melody worked up, but I didn't have much more than the end of the chorus. I had a write the next week with Jonathan Singleton and Casey Beathard; talk about some heavy hitters. I do my homework for writes like that, because there could be a million other guys in that room. When I shared my idea, it really hit those guys - luckily the same way it hit me. We decided to write this song and throughout the write we had a few teary eyed moments. It's such a simple, but heavy song if you really think about it. Jonathan and Casey helped bring home that song. To see how people have reacted to the song has been very inspiring. It was the last song I've released out of the 5 and it's the highest streamed song so far."
Q & A With Wyatt McCubbin
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "Well, I think writing those first 10, 20, 30 songs alone at my childhood home, by myself as a 14 or 15 year old kid let me realize that I could at least make things rhyme. If they made sense that was a whole other thing. I had fun writing, so it didn't matter if I made money doing it or not. When I started thinking that way, I did it because I loved it. Once I finally got down to Nashville and was making money, writing songs and playing live shows, it felt like I was getting away with something. That was the "light bulb" moment; they were paying me to do this and it's like the old saying "I hope they don't find out that I would do this for free". I realized I could make money playing music and could pay the bills. If that's all I ever do, I am tickled to death."
Q: What was the first song or album that made you fall in love with music?
A: "I'm going to throw a curveball. When I broke my arm and started playing guitar, Country Music was around and it was always really number 1 in my childhood. My mom and dad would play Country on the speakers, but there was a rock and roll side of me, a young teenager wanting to rebel. The first CD that I bought with my own money was AC/DC's "Back in Black". I remember putting it in my portable CD player, cranking it up, learning all those riffs and being inspired by how cool it was and how everything tied in with all the guitar work.
I would say even before that, before I picked up a guitar, my dad was a HUGE Merle Haggard fan. I remember that voice coming through those speakers as well as another one who was an Ohio boy, Johnny Paycheck. There were moments in my dad's 1993 Chevy Silverado when he would put that Johnny Paycheck cassette in and there was a duet with Merle Haggard. I thought that was the coolest thing I've ever heard in my life. It was honky tonk music and made me feel cool."
Q: Who's someone in the music industry that took a chance on you and has helped you find success?
A: "Well, one of the first guys would be a guy named Billy Yates. He “found” me when I was 16 going on 17. He discovered me on Twitter of all things. Billy is a songwriter here in Nashville and has several big George Jones songs that he has written, a couple of those being "Choices" and "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair". He reached out and signed me to my first publishing deal, putting some money in my pocket and letting me know I could do this. Billy let me know that he would be there for me.
My core group of co-writers followed after meeting Billy - guys like Carson Chamberlain, Mark Nesler, Tommy Lane and Jonathan Singleton. Those are just a few of the first ones that led to spider webs of more co-writers."
Q: If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
A: "I would say, keep an eye on the big picture, but also, don't miss the little things along the way that are big steps. I felt like in the early days, I wanted to be on the peak of the mountain, long before I was deserving. That's not me saying I am deserving now, but I learned to really celebrate the little victories because you will drive yourself insane trying to throw hail mary's and home runs all day. The idea is just to get on base, be a great base runner and have patience. That is the best advice I would give my younger self, 5 or 10 years ago. It took every step along the way to get to where I'm at now."