What Is Country Music? Jordan Davis Says It All Starts With Songwriting
There's a parable, perhaps best known as the subject of a famous 2005 commencement speech given by the late American writer David Foster Wallace, about two young fish who are swimming along when they pass by an older fish. The older fish says, "Morning, boys! How's the water?" After he swims away, one of the younger fish turns to the other and says, "What the hell is water?"
The joke is that since the two fish are surrounded by water every day, it's difficult for them to identify exactly what it is. Jordan Davis has a similar reaction when asked to define country music.
An avid country music fan since childhood, Davis comes from a family that has a long history with the Nashville songwriting industry. His uncle, Stan Paul Davis, wrote hits for artists including Tracy Lawrence. Davis' brother, Jacob Davis, is a musician and songwriter, too; in fact, the two brothers co-wrote Davis' No. 1 hit "Take It From Me," along with a third writer, Jason Gantt.
Below, Davis reflects on what country music means to him, and how close the art of songwriting -- and his own songwriting background -- is to his relationship with the genre.
I mean, just, my childhood. It's now my life. It's how I pay my bills. It's something that has become so much more than something I've had a deep love for since I was a kid, you know, with my dad.
It kind of goes back to songwriting! I mean, I feel like songwriting is the start of country music, and it's something that I've -- well, I've [loved] songwriters from John Prine to Jim Croce to James Taylor. I almost wanna say that country music is songwriting, and songwriting is something I love with all my heart.