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David Nail Interview-Palm Beach Post
By Janis Fontaine | January 15, 2010
Newcomer David Nail is riding the wave of Red Light, his first top ten single, right into West Palm Beach Wednesday when he plays the South Florida Fair with Chris Young, who is celebrating his first No. 1, Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song.)
Nail took ten minutes out his hectic schedule to chat about his married life, the role song-writing plays in his life and how coaching baseball changed him.
Post: What a great year 2009 was for you!
David Nail: It has been. I’ve had a couple weeks to let things sink in, and relax and take it easy for a few days. Now I’m geared up, I’m on the bus heading to Memphis for our first show of the year and we’re excited.
Post: I thought it was beautiful that you followed the tradition and asked Catherine’s parents for her hand in marriage before you proposed.
Nail: That’s something down where I’m from that it’s almost frowned upon if you don’t. I knew that was something I was going to do, and I was more nervous than I’ve probably ever been, didn’t know exactly how to go about it, so I swallowed my pride and crossed my fingers that they would approve and they did.
Post: I read you said that your mother told you if you couldn’t be happy with Catherine you couldn’t be happy with anyone.
Nail: I was standing outside the place where I bought the ring, and I told her, Do you have any issues with Catherine being your daughter-in-law, and she said didn’t miss a beat, she said, “If you can’t be happy with Catherine, you are going to have to grasp the concept of never being happy.”
Post: You kind of have a dark side, like in the song Clouds, where you just can’t love the woman in the same way she loves you.
Nail: I think it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t love them as much. I think really early on I was always looking forward to finding that person who could complete me, as cheesy as that is, so I was more or less on a mad mission to find that person, and as ridiculous as it may sound, I thought if I can go through quantity, I’ll find the quality, and I sped-dated my way through a lot of bad relationships. As soon as I realized we weren’t a match, I kind of lost interest. Just didn’t want to waste their time, or my own. I’m kind of — I’m sitting next to two guys in my band so it’s ridiculous I’m saying this -— a hopeless romantic. You know, I would search for that romance and sometimes I would put the cart before the horse, so to speak, and read too much into certain things and the next thing I know I’m two months in and I’m saying to myself, that probably wasn’t that big a deal, but for some reason at the time it meant she was my soulmate. But like they always say, when you least expect it, it’ll come out of nowhere and that’s definitely how it was with my wife.
Post: You must have really learned how to be patient in 2009 because it took more than 40 weeks for Red Light to make it to Top Ten on the charts.
Nail: Yes, but all good things come with time, and I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be easy, it was going to take a while, so I had that in the back of my mind and I just kinda keep my head down and really just concentrated on what I can control, which isn’t very much, but I just tried to take things step-by-step.
Post: Turning Home is one of my favorite songs, and it’s going be your next single. (Trivia: The song was co-written by Kenny Chesney!)
Nail: It’s going to be released later this month and we’re excited about that. The song kind of was the theme to this record, and was one of the first songs that was a part of it. We kind of built the record around that. It was one of those songs that I heard where I could close my eyes and see it.
Post: You use a lot of imagery in your songs, and it makes it easy to go on that little journey with you.
Nail: That’s something I learned from the people I’ve written with and I’ve tried to incorporate. I’m a big movie guy and the songs that I grew up loving are those songs that are really picturesque in their descriptions and I was really satisfied with the songs we picked and that I wrote. I felt like they contributed to the goal and now I’m gearing up to write for the next one.
(Among the best first verses of a song ever is on Clouds. Add the haunting melody and you have one great song! Here’s the lyric:
“Well, the turn signal’s clicking and the seconds are slipping away,
Just a little bit more this turnpike and so much to say.
The airport traffic slows us to a still,
I turn the radio down and leave one hand on the wheel.
I don’t how to tell you what you want to hear,
You see, guys like me, we just disappear,
And you deserve someone who will never leave,
Girl, the last few days are the best we’ll ever be.”)
Post: Is song-writing cathartic to you? Do you use it to deal with problems?
Nail: I do. I think all the songs I write are that way. It’s really the only way I know to go about it, is to write that way.
Post: I think it’s really clear in a song like Missouri, where I can almost feel your sadness.
Nail: Yeah, that was definitely a dark period in my life, so it was one of those songs I wrote that I put away for a couple years, and it wasn’t until I was making this album that I pulled it out and said, Man this is something that references a not-great period of my life, but at the same time it kind of shows where I was and what I’ve overcome.
Post: The story Payton Wright really touched you. (Payton died from a a rare form of brain cancer called Medulloepithelioma when she was just five years old. See (www.paytonwright.org).
Nail: It was story I heard randomly and the next thing I knew I was in e-mail chains with both her mother and father and I was just moved by it. I felt like I needed something to get involved with and I waited for something I was inspired by and moved by and that came along at that time. I tell Patrick, Payton’s father, all the time that it was fate. I was meant to find her and she was meant to find me.
Post: I was surprised that you were the catcher on your baseball team.
Nail: That was a position that I always enjoyed. I think everybody grows up wanting to be a pitcher but I never had much control as far as the mound, so my father always told me if you don’t feel you can be successful as a pitcher, you should be a catcher because you’re just as involved.
Post: I know that for a while you coached kids’ baseball and that that helped you recharge.
Nail: It did. It was one of those things I did during my struggling years to take my mind off things and it definitely worked. Those kids changed my life.
Post: Then you got to through a ball out at the Cardinals game and you got to be a correspondent.
Nail: I did! 2009 was crazy. I got to do a lot of things that I never imagined. It was a wild year, one that I was sad to see leave, but at the same time, I’m excited about 2010.
Post: Did you ask Miranda Lambert to sing on Strangers on a Train, or did your record label set that up?
Nail: I was on her bus one night and I had had a few Dr Peppers, and got the courage to ask her to sing on it, and I joke that she’d had a few too many Dr. Peppers and said yes.
Post: How did you handle the disappointment of having your first single fail, and being dropped by your record label?
Nail: I was so young, I didn’t really know. I’d gotten a record deal so quickly after moving to Nashville that I wasn’t quite prepared for what life was like without one, so it took awhile to adjust to that. Everything happens for a reason, I’m much more pleased that this record was the one that introduced me to the listeners.
Post: What motivates you as far as song-writing?
Nail: I’m just one of those guys that subconsciously when I’m sitting on the couch or driving the car, I’m sort of thinking about stuff, and next thing I know, I find myself writing things down and it just goes from there.
Post: So how has being married changed your career?
Nail: It’s great to have someone to share that with, as opposed to being by yourself, and plus she’s very green to the business and all of the smallest things are huge things to her.