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Songwriter Lori McKenna

Songwriter Lori McKenna

Lori McKenna is one of my favorite songwriters on the planet – Janet (sorry – just a habit from the 80’s).

You may know her songwriting from recent country hits by Little Big Town (“Girl Crush”), Hunter Hayes (” I Want Crazy”) and RaeLynn (“God Made Girls”), but she’s been a singer/songwriter for more than 15 years.

Talk about someone who can just flat out write. And, she’s a great example of a singer/songwriter who honed her craft, and was eventually recognized by performers who took her songs to the mainstream – Faith Hill and Sara Evans in particular in 2005.

She’s a great example of someone normally dropped into the Americana or Folk category who’s songs made it into the country genre because of her song craft. She tells stories you can be a part of without hesitation.


[Get the Full Song Analysis of “The Bird & The Rifle”]


Lori McKenna In Her Own Words



I first came across her in the 2001 when I heard Paper Wings and Halos. I found the CD at Ed McKay’s in Knoxville TN and it looked like it had that “folky vibe” I like. I was hooked by the songwriting, and bought every CD that came out after that.

My favorite album? Bittertown – amazing lyrics that are a textbook for anyone wanting to write beautiful, strong, empowering songs that tell the story of lives lived and to be lived.


Her Writing Style


Lori McKenna is one of the best at capturing common moments and turning them into relatable scenes that immediately pull the listener back into a memory and in the end, a larger message. Incredibly, her lyrics are so good at pulling you into a moment, the song draws in the listener at an individual level. Pretty gifted writing to do it so well, and so often!

And, the aspect I like the most about her writing: she seems to go with “honest” first. I think commercial or not is something that’s a decision made in terms of which pile it goes into – pitch, sing for me.

I could be wrong, but, to be honest, I sort of prefer songs that are written with a little of someone’s soul in them. For me, they’re usually the best ones sung live by the songwriter.

So let’s take a look at some of her songs!

One of my favorite Lori McKenna songs is “Stealing Kisses.” Faith Hill released this song on Fireflies in 2005.

The rich imagery in the song, the scenes it scrolls through, and the time jump it makes are pretty amazingly crafted, and most importantly, it’s great schooling for anyone learning to write songs.

When you get feedback that says “your song should be like a small movie” – this song is the perfect example of how to do it well.


Lori McKenna “Stealing Kisses”



Faith Hill Official Video


“Stealing Kisses” Lyrics



“It’s late enough all you kids should be home,”
The policeman says as he takes your beer for his own.
You remember wondering what his wife thought about his occupation.



He knows that you were just chasing a dream
To the town line and then back and over again.
So he winks at you girls and tells you all, “I’ll see you later.”



I was stealing kisses from a boy,
Now I’m begging affection from a man.
In my house dress don’t know you who I am?
I’m standing in your kitchen.



It’s late enough your husband’s dinner is cold,
So you wrap it up and leave it for him on the stove.
It’s probably the traffic again, or another important meeting.



And you haven’t talked to an adult all day,
Except your neighbor who drives you crazy.
When he finally gets in he’s sure not in the mood for talking.



I was stealing kisses from a boy,
Now I’m begging affection from a man.
In my house dress, don’t you know who I am?
I’m standing in your kitchen.



And hours become days, and days become years,
And you could burn down this town if they made matches from fear.
Buy you’re no worse off than anybody else –
Hey don’t you even know, don’t you even know yourself?



So you’re standing outside your high school door,
The one you walked out of twenty years before
And you whisper to all of the girls, run, run, run



I was stealing kisses from a boy,
Now I’m begging affection from a man.
In my house dress don’t you know who I am?
Take a look at who I am – I’m stealing kisses.


“Bible Song”




More Lori McKenna Links

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