Pages Navigation Menu

Start With Something That's True

Songwriter Ashley Arrison

Songwriter Ashley Arrison

Below are excerpts from an interview with Ashley Arrison on Rob Brayl’s back in January of 2011.


Q  So I know that “Caged Bird” is your genuinely personal song with regards to domestic violence. Has music always been a cathartic release for you, a safe space?

ARRISON: I wouldn’t necessarily call writing music my safe place, but rather my most vulnerable place. I am not super prolific, writing songs all of the time. I really envy people who can do that, but songwriting is too emotional of an act for me to be able to pull my innermost thoughts, like water from a well, out daily or weekly or on command. I have to be feeling extremely vulnerable to say what I need to say. And when that moment happens, my thoughts come out fairly clearly, and that is the most cathartic feeling in the world.



Q  You’ve worked with numerous artists but two that stuck out for me were Kelly Clarkson and Lindsay Lohan. There has to be something interesting to say here, no?

ARRISON: Something interesting? For K[elly] C[larkson], all I can say is I have been privileged enough to have listened to her sing in hotel rooms and living rooms, as well as in the studio and on stage and never once have I not thought to myself, ‘Okay, there has to be a God.’ Because her gift knows no limits and it just seems other-worldly. Having Kelly sing backgrounds vocals on your track is a humbling experience! I know people love her and think she is incredibly talented, but I don’t think the world knows just how far her vocal and writing talents stretch. If you haven’t seen her live, you are missing out on seeing a talent that no one else in the world can match. However, I have seen a homeless man reject her when she tried to give him a homemade Easter dinner.

Q  What I love about your music is its honesty. How has your music evolved? Was it always driven by depth?

ARRISON: My coming-of-age artists were Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos, Alanis, Jewel; original writers who let us into their private worlds. You can’t tell me Sheryl Crow didn’t live ‘Strong Enough’, that Tori Amos didn’t live ‘Silent All These Years’, Jewel and ‘Foolish Games’, and obviously ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was as raw and real as they come. Feeling like I had a window into other people’s souls was so powerful and that was such a gift they gave me as a teenager. Those kinds of artists helped define me as a person and still do. That’s the point of music for me and always has been: to speak honestly, even when that means showing the cracks and vulnerabilities — which are the things I find endearing in other artists.

Q  Your latest album Hearts On Parade is completely solid. Is there a standout track for you, a personal favorite? (“The Hard Way” stand outs to me for some reason.)

ARRISON: Thank you very much. I think my personal favorite is the track “Hearts On Parade.” It sings like I’m just speaking about one person, but each line is fairly specific to the few different relationships I’ve had and the ways I was trying to bend and conform to try and make someone happy. It’s liberating to be so literal.

Q  What’s your biggest influence with regards to writing songs?

ARRISON: My biggest and only influence to date is love or the lack thereof. It’s usually the lack thereof.

Q  What’s your favorite song right now on pop radio? Any other singles/albums you can’t get enough of?

ARRISON: “Animal” by Neon Trees is probably my favorite. I want to try that as a cover. . . . “All The Right Moves” by One Republic has such a good chorus that I can’t get enough of.  “Back To December” grew on me – that verse melody is fantastic – “I haven’t seen you in a whi-iii-iii-llleee.” I love “Dear John” on the new album, too. “Fearless” is my favorite album of hers, though. I love her and I can’t fight it.  Beyonce’s “If I Was A Boy” makes me hurt-so-good. She throws down. I love “Why Don’t You Love Me,” too. Side note: My man’s car is named Beyonce, mine is Leona.

And speaking of Leona Lewis, I can always hear “Better In Time.”

Of fairly recent albums, I can’t get enough of Matt Nathanson’s album Some Mad Hope.


Discography & Cuts


  • Talking Circles (2008)
  • Hearts on Parade (2010)


Co-Write Credits

  • Kelly Clarkson “Tie It Up”
  • Kelly Clarkson “Wrapped In Red”
  • Kelly Clarkson “Winter Dreams”
  • Kacey Musgraves “Pageant Material”


Project Credits

  • Badly Drawn Boy About a Boy Soundtrack (2002)
  • Lindsay Lohan A Little More Personal (Raw) (2005)


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.