The sun was low in the sky and the leaves had started to change as I rolled up a long driveway in the suburbs of Nashville. Minutes later, another vehicle pulled up next to me and a man with a giant smile bound out. He apologized for running late and motioned for me to follow him. COVID-19 protocol had us sitting on the deck of his beautiful home to talk life and music.
It is difficult to truly describe Rob Hatch, because he is so many things. The Cross City, Florida native always greets people with a smile (and usually a joke). He is open and welcoming. He is full of energy and life. He is thoughtful and deep. And, most importantly, he is authentic. What you see is what you get. I admire and appreciate that quality in a person. It’s part of what makes his songs so amazing.
Rob’s is a story unlike most. He didn’t sing much growing up…only in the youth church choir. He didn’t learn to play guitar until college and then taught himself…on a borrowed guitar. He only wrote his first song to impress a girl (It worked). Rob had no intention of working in music. There was a job waiting for him at the family car dealership after college. However, life had different plans.
Even if he didn’t see them at the time, there were signs he was meant to be a songwriter. “I always felt music…early,” Rob said. We spent a lot of time talking about some of those indicators.
What also struck me about Rob is his hunger to be educated about music. He wants to know everything about the process. He wants to learn about people and their stories, because it helps him write a better song. There is no ego when it comes to his craft. In fact, when he talked about arriving in Nashville, he said, “All my friends were my teachers. I felt like I knew the least.”
His core friend group has been together for years…in some cases almost 20 years. They have served as a support system for each other through the trials, tribulation and joy that is the music industry. Rob’s first cuts were with friend and business partner Jamey Johnson. He’s also had hits with buddies Jerrod Niemann, Randy Houser, Dallas Davidson and Lee Brice. Plus, he’s shared in some of those songwriting successes with friend and co-writer Lance Miller.
During our interview, Rob’s kids played happily in the backyard and ran up to ask their Dad questions. It is obvious both this father and his kids have a wonderful relationship. Rob’s wife Shannan is a successful and beloved music industry executive. She was busy getting things done at the house and in the office while we chatted. They complement each other perfectly and have a marriage that is easy to admire.
After we were done recording, Rob and I sat talking a while longer. As usual, the topic of great songs came up. Rob said one day a long time ago Jerrod Niemann asked him what one of his favorite songs was. When Rob responded, “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by Travis Tritt, Jerrod asked him why. Rob didn’t have an answer at the time. He just loved the song (I agree. It’s always been one of my faves.). Jerrod went on to explain nothing rhymed in that song. That is what made it stand out…made it different. WHAT?! Nothing DOES rhyme in the that song. How did I never notice that?! Mind. Blown. Rob said from that point on he started paying attention to every detail of his craft. And I thought about that song for another two weeks.
Nashville can be brutal at times, but this songwriter knew he was staying for the long haul no matter what. It has worked out well for him with numerous cuts and three #1 songs.
Driving back down that driveway, a smile crossed my face. You see, this beautiful house filled with a wonderful family and many songwriting awards is just a few miles away from where Rob Hatch got his first Nashville job almost 20 years ago. A lot has changed since those Jersey Mike’s days.
Go to the Notes Entertainment Podcast to hear more about:
- Missteps and misspellings on the road to success
- The story behind one of his massive hits
- The profound answer one songwriting legend gave to Rob’s question
- Rob’s version of “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice
- And more!
The podcast will be available on iTunes soon. In the meantime, listen to the songs we discussed in the podcast.
Rob Hatch Podcast Song List:
- “Goodnight Kiss” by Randy Houser (written by Rob Hatch, Jason Sellers and Randy Houser)
- “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice (written by Lee Brice, Rob Hatch and Dallas Davidson)
- “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore (written by Dallas Davidson, Rob Hatch and Brett Jones)
- “Shinin’ On Me” by Jerrod Niemann (written by Jerrod Niemann, Lee Brice, Rob Hatch and Lance Miller)
- “I Never Go Around Mirrors” by Lefty Frizzell (written by Whitey Shafer and Lefty Frizzell)
- “On the Other Hand” by Randy Travis (written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz)
- “Diggin’ Up Bones” by Randy Travis (written by Paul Overstreet, Al Gore and Nat Stuckey)
- “More Than A Memory” by Lee Brice and Garth Brooks (written by Lee Brice, Billy Montana and Kyle Jacobs)
- “Long, White Cadillac” by Dwight Yoakam (written by Dave Alvin)
- “into the Mystic” by Van Morrison (written by Van Morrison)
- “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper)
- “Seven Spanish Angels” by Ray Charles and Willie Nelson (written by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser)
- “Chiseled in Stone” by Vern Gosdin (written by Vern Gosdin and Max D. Barnes)
- “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by Willie Nelson (written by Willie Nelson)
- “Desperate Man” by Eric Church (written by Eric Church and Ray Wylie Hubbard)