top 5 country songs i wish i had written

by guest blogger & newest member of the ispeaknashville team, zach carter

as a songwriter, i’m constantly listening to songs on the radio and records that i love with a different set of ears.  questioning things like, ‘what would i have done differently?’  and ‘would i have done that melody in verse 2?’ these songs that i’m about to tell you about, i wouldn’t change a thing.  i like to tell myself they just forgot to call me when they needed another co-writer…it’s fine, i’m fine.  i’m gonna start it out with an oldie but a goodie.

lo-fi, john oates, zach & josh carter at tin pan south

1. “i hope you dance” lee ann womack – mark d. sanders / tia sillers

lee ann delivered a killer vocal on this but the songwriting slays me. mark and tia are songwriting machines. i’ve known tia for a long time and i still look at her like she might be from a different planet sometimes.  her ability to deliver metaphorically genius lyrics in a way that is so conversational still blows my mind. 

my favorite line i wish i would’ve written:

time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,

tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone”

2. “the house that built me” miranda lambert – tom douglas / allen shamblin

my favorite miranda lambert song. fun fact: the house that built me was written 6 years before miranda ever made it the country number 1 you know and love.  this song gives me all the feels. within the first few lines i’m back standing in front of my childhood home. that is some good songwriting. it’s pure brilliance.

my favorite line i wish i would’ve written:

if I could just come in, i swear i’ll leave,

won’t take nothing but a memory

from the house that built me”

3. “monday morning church” alan jackson – erin enderlin / brent baxter 

alan jackson is a legend; but so is erin enderlin. she is one of my top favorite songwriters in this town. her country metaphors and brilliant hook twists leave me wishing i was as cool as her. if you read the lyrics and you will see exactly why she deserves to be on this list and why she should be in a gaudy gold frame on display in the country music hall of fame.

my favorite line i wish i would’ve written:

“the preacher came by sunday said he missed me at the service

he told me Jesus loves me but I’m not sure I deserve it”

4. “these days” jeffrey steele / steve robson –

who doesn’t love old school rascal flatts? this is probably my favorite song of theirs.  you might sense a pattern by now. i love conversational lyrics. this is the epitome of a conversational lyric.

yeah, life throws you curves

but you’ve learned to swerve me,

i swung and i missed and the next thing ya know

i’m reminiscing”

to be able to craft lyrics like you are having a conversation put to a melody is not only hard work but is the mark of a great songwriter.  the verses in this song are my favorite.  i can close my eyes and i feel like i’m there; i’m the singer talking to that someone.

5. “begin again” taylor swift

ok, i’ll admit it, i’m a swiftie. don’t know what to say. the haters gonna hate. anyone who can write a song by themselves or an entire album  by themselves deserves to be recognized. 

i’ve been spending the last 8 months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end

but on a wednesday in a cafe i watched it begin again”

i love this song because the hook is so simple but the way she set it up was so cool and different. very real and relatable which has been he keystone of her success really and why her audience connects with her. those types are always my favorite songs.  the ones that i can immediately be transported into the thick of the story. 

speaking of cafes, i’m signing off from my small wooden table at this quaint coffee shop, sipping on hipster coffee.  i love geeking out over killer songwriters and the talent that this community has.  thanks for geeking out with me.  now go write a song or sell something.   

*insert something emotional*


about the blogger:

although he’s the newest ispeaknashville team member, zach, along with his twin brother, were first introduced to nashville and it’s music scene in 2009 with their debut ep the carter twins.  they have written with some of the top songwriters in town and shared the stage with the likes of lady antebellum, jason aldean, toby keith, john oates, eli young band and faith hill. with two grand ole opry performances under his belt, zach definitely has his finger on the pulse of everything music city.


meet nashville: five minutes, five questions with danny from nashville’s own nicoletto pasta

so you’ve got quite a list of flavors lately.  what have been the most popular so far?

we have been making a variety of different flavors this year mainly for the farmers markets.   when we decided to manufacture flavored pasta, we chose to use real ingredients opposed to certain powders other companies use to enhance the flavor which often contain additives and preservatives.   fresh baby spinach for our green spinach fettuccine, squeezed lemons and zest for our lemon pepper, real porcini mushrooms, and multiple cups of garlic for our most popular “super garlic” linguine.   we want our pasta to taste great but also be able to tell our customers all of the natural ingredients in our flavors.   

10944861_974006792624237_7753682086201135175_ndo you guys offer a gluten free option?

we are working to offer more gluten free in 2016.  because we use durum wheat on all of our machines, we would need a dedicated facility and new machinery to claim a certified GF product. as an alternative, we do have a good friendship with a GF plant in denver that has provided us with a line of dried pasta made with rice flour so we look forward to offering that until we develop our GF recipe on dedicated equipment for fresh & dried.      

did you know in the 18th century, the word macaroni was a synonym for perfection? that’s why the feather in yankee doodle’s hat was called “macaroni”.  true story.

yes actually!   really, who would’ve thought that a cut of pasta would become a word to describe fashion and style.   world travelers would see the dish around italy and france and they were amazed at how exotic that noodle was.   apparently, the term stemmed from an established “macaroni club” in britain.     

time to make the pasta
time to make the pasta

where can people find you guys and your pastas now that the summer farmer markets are over?

the markets were a big help in letting us test certain pasta cuts and flavors as well as gaining feedback from our customers on what they would like to see.   we look forward to seeing everyone again in the spring of 2016.  until then, we are still at the franklin winter market at the factory every saturday and we are participating in a few holiday markets in november in december. those include the gallatin galavant on small business saturday and porter flea market in december.   our dried pasta cuts can also be picked up at a few great stores in nashville as well as our website. 

porter road butcher (east & west)

batch (nashville farmers market)

cocos italian market

tower market & deli

Nicolettos-Logo-Black-Textwhat’s next for the nicoletto’s pasta company?  we have had a really great response from the community here in nashville during our first year in business.   restaurants such as fido and lockeland table supported us with adding our fresh cuts to their menu weekly, and we have had a great response serving lunch out of the grow local kitchen in the nashville farmers market several times a month.  looking ahead to 2016 we will be opening our first retail / eatery store in east nashville just down the road from our factory.   we are excited to open a place that customers can come on in and pick up any of fresh pasta, ravioli, gnocchi or dried pasta to take home or stay for a quick lunch or dinner.   look for us at 2905A gallatin pike next door to mickeys & the hop stop in east nashville coming january 2016.    visit us at or @nicolettospasta on facebook, instagram, and twitter for more updates!

5 minutes, 5 questions with jake’s bakes

Display1well, we’re heading into a crazy polarizing holiday weekend that, let’s be honest, does anyone really love?  lots of expectation and materialism.  bah.  i say take time out to treat yourself.  kick back with netflix and have some fresh, hot cookies delivered to your front door.

jake veyhl and the folks at jake’s bakes opened a new retail location last fall which allowed them to step up their game in the cookie-making business.  i thought it was time to check in with them:

first off, how’s your new retail space? new space is amazing. i was so fortunate to find great people who were willing to share their kitchen with me as i was starting out but being able to bake all day uninhibited is definitely where it’s at. our space isn’t huge but it gets the job done and we know how to appreciate having some place that is our own. i love being able to see and chat with people that love our cookies as well. previously, it was only the delivery drivers that got to meet our cookie lovers but now the smiles fill up our store and it is a blast to be a part of.

has that widened your delivery availability?  no, it’s actually shrunk our delivery radius for two reasons: first, we don’t have as easy access to the highway as we did so covering miles is a little more difficult. second, we have a place where people can come pick up cookies now. previously, we had no drop-in availability so if people wanted our cookies, they had to get them delivered. now, they can come to us, too.IMG_1361

the united states spends $550 million annually on oreos alone.  when jake’s bakes reaches those numbers, where will you vacation you think? $550 million, huh? think i could probably splurge for a plane ticket to the coast instead of driving at that point. liz and i enjoy warm weather so how about bora bora? that’s a bucket lister.

ever thought of offering a gluten-free option?  yes, i’ve experimented previously but opening a store got in the way of testing. it’s still in the idea file. i’ve been asked more than once about offering some.


any big holiday specials for valentines this weekend?  no specials. these few days are some of our busiest of the year already!

jake bakes | 2422 elliston place 615.645.5916



meet nashville: 5 & 5 with miss tennessee, brenna mader

gallery_photo1366717650Headshotas a belmont graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, brenna mader aspires most for a career as a television host.   at 26, she’s already hit the ground running as the face of GAC‘s superfan weekends, TBN‘s joy in our town, and as a media correspondent for tom arnold’s my big fat redneck vacation after show on CMT.   next up though on her to-do list, she competes for the miss usa title live on nbc this sunday (june 16th at 9pm est) as miss tennessee.  we sat down with her for a quick five minutes, five important questions:

first off, congrats congrats on making it this far.  we’re all rooting for you.  if i’m not wrong, last year marked tennessee’s 7th straight placement in this competition…feeling the pressure?  not really!  i couldn’t be more proud to wear the tennessee sash and i think the record speaks more highly of kim greenwood’s program than anything.  are girls in tennessee more beautiful than girls in other states? no, they just have one of, if not the best teams in the nation, prepping them!

well, they are actually 30% prettier but moving on.  without throwing any contestants specifically under the bus here, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen someone do to get ready for a competition over the years?  i have seen girls put preparation h all over their legs and wrap them in saran wrap overnight.   i’ve heard it works but the results only last for a few hours, so you won’t catch me doing that one!photographer_uploaded_2_133_0_1370308220_2013

so, random trivia, you’ve been to 43 states.  plan on visiting any of your bottom 7 states this year?  i would love to – i’m trying to buddy up to alaska and hawaii so i can have a place to stay! 😉

if you could have perfect mood lighting wherever you walk or your theme song played every time you enter a room, which would you choose?   i’m a nashville girl – theme song!

good plan!  i hear you’re a huge proponent of good nutrition.  what’s one good stat we might to take with us today?  for all kinds of tips, you can check out my blog (!

to vote for brenna go online here.  the winner automatically moves on to the semifinals.

meet nashville: 5 in 5 with crayon sculptor herb williams

the panther and rabbits from herb william’s art, plunderland

how many crayola crayons are in a 50-pound case?  sculptor herb williams is one of the few individuals that may know the answer is 3,000.  he orders a lot of them.   to give some perspective, according to crayola trivia, 730 crayons if melted will cover an nba basketball court.  one of  herb’s largest art pieces to date, plunderland, a mythical fairy tale that centered around a sixteen-foot long beanstalk with various animals, required 250,000 crayons and over a year to create…that’s a lot of 50-pound cases.

so we’ll start with important questions, favorite color?  i think my favorite color is always whichever prominent color i just used in the last sculpture i finished. that’s almost impossible though, like picking a favorite child.

how did you land on crayons as your medium of choice?  crazy trial and error and experimentation and much gnashing of teeth and starvation and driving oneself ever so slightly crazy in searching for your own unique voice.herb1

does crayola deliver them to your doorstep?  absolutely. by the pallet. i am the only individual wholesaler in the world so i get the individual colors in 50 lb cases of 3000 individual sticks.  crayola is in my five.

Plunderlandhaha, you were commissioned by obama’s administration at one point to design pieces that he & secretary of state hillary clinton could give as gifts to foreign dignitaries.  have you heard from any random leaders along the way that received them? no, i was chosen.  wish i was commissioned.  that would mean i could design whatever i liked to a point.  we’re still working on what the design should be.  politics are a game I never wish to enter.

what’s next? it looks like i am building a major exhibition of about 60 or so sculptures of mine to take an international museum tour. i cannot wait!herb2