Chris Tompkins is an award-winning songwriter whose lengthy list of credits include tunes recorded by Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Jimmy Buffett and Bucky Covington, among others. Earlier this summer, the Alabama native had his eye on one project he specifically wanted to write for -- 'American Idol' winner Scotty McCreery's upcoming debut CD, 'Clear as Day.' Chris ended up landing a song on the album -- news made even sweeter with its release to country radio as the 17-year-old's second single. The Boot sat down with Chris to find out how he wrote 'The Trouble With Girls' and who gets the real credit for the tune's rapid success.
My co-writer, Phillip White, and I have known each other for a long time. He's from my hometown in Alabama. We ran into each other this summer and got together to write. I usually always write at my studio at [publishing company] Big Loud Shirt, so I can use my Pro Tools, but Phillip proposed that we do it at Universal. I thought, "That's a good idea. It will be old-school -- two writers with a guitar and a piano -- with no toys to play with and interrupt the creative process." It was a good change from my everyday norm.
The song actually started with Phillip having the title, 'The Trouble With Girls,' and the first verse, and the spin at the end of the chorus. I sat down at the grand piano and worked out the melody for the verse. At that point, we didn't really have a chorus, and it felt like we needed to get somewhere big, musically, very quickly. Then out of nowhere, I started singing the line, "they smile that smile," and a second later Phillip chimed in with "bat those eyes," and after that we knew we were on to something.
Phillip stayed on me to go over to my spot to do a work tape. I feel like I owe a lot to Phillip for making me get off my lazy butt to demo it quickly. Phillip's a great guy and a great songwriter and friend. He knows how to reach in and pinch off a piece of your heart, and we've always been a good pairing.
The best thing about getting this cut -- and the same thing happened before Carrie cut 'Before He Cheats' -- I knew that if I were lucky enough to get an 'American Idol' cut, this was an album I'd love to be on. I always thought Scotty was a frontrunner and I'm proud to be a part of this.