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Meet the Canadian behind some of country music’s biggest hits

Last Updated Nov 28, 2019 at 8:29 am MST

Songwriter Deric Ruttan speaks with CityNews' Lindsay Dunn in Nashville, Nov. 22, 2019. CITYNEWS

“It feels like a miracle every time it happens, and then once it happens you want to do it all over again.”

Deric Ruttan is talking about the miracle of a song he wrote going to #1 on country radio in the U.S.

The Ontario musician, who calls Nashville home, is behind some such hit songs as Dierks Bentley’s career changing ‘What Was I Thinking’, Blake Shelton’s smash hit ‘Mine Would Be You’ and dozens of other chart toppers.

“I remember the first time I heard a song I wrote on the radio,” Ruttan said, while look at guitars in a downtown store in Nashville.

“I was driving home from the gym and it was about 8 a.m. and I was listening to the big country station in Nashville and it came on the radio. My heart started racing and I started to race home because I wanted my wife to hear it and we have this long gravel driveway. I was fishtailing just trying to get to the home barely staying on the driveway. As soon as I got to the door the song stopped and the DJ –game on. It was a feeling I’ll never forget though.”

Since then, Ruttan has written dozens of hit songs for some of country music’s top stars, as well as a number of up-and-coming musicians. But it has taken a long time for the singer to become one of the most sought after writers in Music City.

“It’s a weird business writing songs for a living. You go through these long stretches where you don’t get anything recorded and then in six weeks you get four things cut by different artists and then those songs become singles. In that moment you think ‘Yes! I can do this!.’ but then you have another week with nobody recording anything and you think ‘I’m finished, I’m done!’” he explained.

“You go through these highs and lows but you just have to adjust and you have to learn how to deal with your emotions and not go crazy in the process.”

What some of the musicians in Nashville who record Ruttan’s music may not know is that he is an accomplished singer/songwriter in his native country. As a solo act he has had #1 hits in Canada and played most of the big festivals across the country.

The father of five says despite his success it’s not easy getting those songs recorded and making a career writing some of the soundtracks to peoples lives.

“It really is a journey because once you actually write that hit song it seems like it’s a miracle … what I always equate it to is it’s like a combination lock with 100 different codes,” Ruttan explained.

“They all need to line up for that lock to open and then when that opens, the song actually being released as a single is like another 100 different codes that need to be unlocked, and then for that song to go #1 is like another 100 codes having to be unlocked. So when it finally happens it feels like a miracle!”

How does one even start the process of writing a hit song?

“It all starts with a title,” Ruttan laughed. “Most songwriters have just words in their phone or on pieces of paper and then you think of melodies and the story you want to tell and it goes from there.”

He has been trying to release new music following his hit 2013 album “Take The Week Off” but every time he goes to finish the album another artists wants to record one of his songs. It’s not a bad problem to have.

“Right now the album is 75 per cent finished but the last couple of songs I had on someone asked to record them so I had to take them off! But, we should have new music out in the first quarter of 2020.”