He’s a publisher, producer and the man behind 32 #1 hits. Meet Ashley Gorley: writer on songs like Brad Paisley’s “Then,” Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night, ” and Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry.” He was the guy DJing his middle school dances. He was the guy making tracks in high school. His passion for music—of all kinds—led him to go to college at Belmont where he “interned like crazy”—smart move.
What’s Ashley’s writing process like? On today’s episode of This Nashvile Life, Ashley tells us about what inspires him, and how he approaches writing—especially how he prepares for writing with an artist. Interestingly it involves a lot of improvisation. There’s also a lot of really practical info about how to show up in the writing room. Ashley says a lot of times he likes to “go, push record.” This allows him to see if he can sketch out the shape of a song in the moment. He also shares some great stories from early in his career about working in the tape room of various publishing companies (the “Tape Room” ultimately becomes the name of his own publishing company.) At the time he would invite other unsigned writers to meet him at the publishing company after hours so they could write in real writers rooms and feel like they were really in the game.
I asked him if there was a moment when he knew being a songwriter was gonna “work.” His answer? “It depends on what you’re willing to endure, and it depends on what your significant other is willing to endure.” And this led us to a really interesting conversation around how much a person “needs” to get by. What level of income are they willing to settle for while they’re getting started. Is their spouse willing to wait it out, because any level of success takes time. We also talk about how important it is as a songwriter to have a family/spouse that’s supportive of what you’re doing for a living. For Ashley, his first hit song, Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget To Remember Me” came 7 years into his life as a writer. In the past we haven’t talked a lot about the role of a supportive spouse or the toll that the life of a songwriter can take on a relationship. It was compelling to hear how much of a team Ashley and his wife are, and how that really allowed him to continue to work as a songwriter even when he was between deals.
Ultimately, I think we see Ashley’s hardworking approach to writing, combined his passion for great songs as a big part of his success, but even he seems a little shocked at the number of hits that he’s had. He chalks a lot of it up to timing. But don’t be fooled, his interview is a sort of a masterclass in the kind of attitude it takes to be successful as a songwriter. Come with us as we try to figure out what it means to live This Nashville Life.