Tim James was probably destined to write music for a career.
The Murfreesboro native and 1978 Oakland High graduate recalls “always writing something” when he was growing up.
“I’ve always written stuff, even when were kids,” James said. “I never really thought about pursuing it as a career, most likely because I didn’t know anybody who did it for a living.
“We grew up a blue-collar family. My dad was like, ‘that’s great, but you’ve got to get a job.’ I didn’t think too seriously about until probably the late 1980s when I was living in California.”
James certainly chose the right career path, however, as evidenced by the vast number of country music hits he has written or co-wrote.
Among his successful hits are Toby Keith’s “My List,” which was the No. 1 country single in 2002. He currently has a publishing contract with Warner/Chappel.
He also wrote “Love Like Crazy” by Lee Brice, “Give it All We Got” by George Straight, “All I Ask for Anymore” by Trace Adkins and “It’s Good to Be Us” by Bucky Covington (American Idol performer).
“All I Ask For” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 2010. James has also written.
James said it has been a long road to achieving his success.
“When I lived in California, I started a band and we played country music down the coast around Los Angeles,” he said. “We opened for Toby Keith, Lee Roy Parnell and some other folks.
“Once I sunk my teeth into (writing) I started making trips back to Nashville. I met Charlie Monk and I played him some songs. He chewed me a new one and said you can’t live out there and write 15 songs a year. The guys here are writing every day and everybody treats it like a job.”
It was then we James decided to move back to Murfreesboro.
“I decided to move back here and I got three publishing deals,” he said. “I was at one for two years before they closed up shop and then I was out of a publishing deal. I painted houses for a year and a half. In 2000, I got a publishing deal with a company Toby Keith owned, and I went from nothing to having the No. 1 hit (“My List”). That will put you on the map.
“From there, when they closed up shop, I signed another publishing deal and I have stayed with it. I’ve probably had 40 songs cut from various artists. In 2007, I had a song with the American Idol guy, Buddy Covington. In 2009, I had a single with Trace Adkins. In 2010, ‘Love Like Crazy’ won Billboard song of the year. It was the longest running song in history at 56 weeks.”
James’ most recent success came with the No. 1 hit “Give It All We Got” by George Straight.
“This past year, I had the George Straight No. 1 hit,” James said. “I’ve been blessed to have big songs. I’ve been super blessed to have had singles cut.”
James said he once got good advice from former NFL All-Pro player Mike Reed, an accomplished writer and musician.
“I went to his house and asked him what his secret is,” James said. “He said the secret it to show up to work. I had two guys at my house (Monday) and one of the guys is on the show ‘Nashville.’ We just worked on a song. There’s not too many days I’m not working at it. Most of the time is spent sitting in a room and banging something out.”
James said said there are various ways in which he is inspired to write a song.
“If somebody says something to me that I think is a good saying, I’ll remember it,” he said. “There are a 100 different ways to skin a cat. I’ll wake up sometimes in the middle of the night. I don’t wake up a lot, though.”
“With ‘My List’ I told a guy had this idea and went with it. ‘Love Like Crazy’ was inspired after my dad passed away. He had a lot of good common sense values.”
James will be performing Tuesday at the inaugural Bluebird in the Boro, which is a benefit for Alive Hospice. The event if Monday through Wednesday at Mayday Brewery. Songwriter Dan Couch, who lives in Murfreesboro, and Danny Myrick also will perform with James.
On Monday, Marshall Altman, Dylan Altman, Marla Cannon-Goodman and Matt Warren will perform. Wednesday’s lineup includes Jeff Cohen, Billy Montana, Kendall Marvel and James T. Slater.
James lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, Tara, and 5- and 9-year old children Tia and Tessa.
He estimates he has written more than 1,000 songs since taking the profession seriously.
It’s obviously turned out to be a most prosperous and destined career.