Longhorn Livin’ To Music City Singin’: An Interview With Texas Bred Songwriter Ben Danaher

It’s no secret The Longhorn State has produced some of the finest songwriters our ears have ever beheld. Whether it’s Brownsville, Monahans, Houston (Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell) or a number of other Texas towns, they’ve got something in the water.

Ben Danaher grew up among that water.

Danaher spent his formative days living in the unincorporated community of Huffman, Texas, 25 miles outside of Houston. Music ran in the family, and before too long, he was off and running.

Danaher released his debut album, Still Feel Lucky, towards the end of last year, and has released singles and toured throughout this year. He’s gearing up for more touring come early 2020.

We had the opportunity to ask Danaher some questions about life as a Nashville songwriter, his debut record, and more.

Music Mecca: Where did you grow up, and who/what got you into playing music?

Ben Danaher: Huffman, TX. My whole family played music, so there were always guitars around the house growing up. I wanted to be just like my dad and brothers.  

MM: Can you talk about how you first got started in playing and songwriting in the Nashville circuit?

BD: I had flown up to visit and met some folks at Carnival Music.They set me up with some co-writes. Then I was on the fence about making a move until Allen Shamblin convinced me that being in Nashville was a good move.  

MM: Were you ever intimidated by the ever-churning competition of “Music City,” and the pressure of being a Nashville musician?

BD: I stay intimidated by Nashville being so full of talent. But that same level of talent motivates me to work harder. There will always be someone out there working harder than me or singing better songs, so I have to be on it everyday. 

MM: What has been one of your most defining and accomplished milestones as an artist so far?

BD: Making this record Still Feel Lucky has probably been the biggest milestone. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to make a real record. I quit drinking and ended up saving money and it came to life. It has opened quite a few doors for me.

MM: What was your experience like putting together your debut album Still Feel Lucky? Did it deliver how you envisioned it to?

BD: I had a really great experience. I worked with Michael Webb on it. It just came together organically. We used the band I was playing shows with, and he made it easy to have an environment to record and not worry about studio time/ or what should or shouldn’t be on the radio. Really a low pressure environment.

MM: What was the process of writing and recording it like?

BD: Writing that record took a while. It was a compilation of years of heartache and overcoming some pretty heavy personal hurdles. That part was easy. The writing…not the living.  

MM: Do you have a specific atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process, or does it happen more sporadically?

BD: Lately touring has been so much that it hasn’t  been as frequent as I would like it to be, but the goal is to try to sit down everyday and see if you can still do it again, haha.

MM: Do you have the wheels in motion for a second album, or are you focusing on singles, tour, rest, etc.?

BD: We put out 5 singles this year and have another one to go. That project will end up being an EP, but then next year I plan on recording a new full length record. I will also be joining Aaron Lewis in the first part of the year for his acoustic tour. Looking forward to that.

MM: What advice might you have for young songwriters looking to begin their music career in Nashville? (or anywhere)

BD: The only advice I could give is to keep trying. Even when people are saying no. A lot of the songs I get the best reaction from were songs that got rejected by really credible song people in Nashville. The gatekeepers don’t always have the answers, you control your own destiny.  

MM: How do you define success as a musical artist? 

BD: That’s a tricky one. I think being able to do it for a living and still have the means to be able to create everyday. You’re always going to want more from your career, and I am really bad at not appreciating what I have going on sometimes, but I like to consider myself a success, not by numbers but by the fact that I’m here and present and am able to write songs everyday and people can hear them. 🙂

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