It's definitely been a year to remember for hit Nashville songwriter Luke Laird. He has been responsible for ten top-40 singles on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, including three No. 1s. In addition, the Pennsylvania native added producer to his resume -- for Kacey Musgraves' "Same Trailer Different Park," which has topped many of 2013's year-end lists.
"I feel very blessed," Laird tells Billboard. "You move to Nashville hoping that one person one day would sing one of your songs, and to actually hear them on the radio, and work with new artists has been really cool."
Two of those chart-toppers, "One Of Those Nights" from Tim McGraw and "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum, were lead-off singles from their respective albums, something that Laird takes a great deal of pride in.
"It's really fun. Having a song like 'Downtown' or 'Pontoon,' which gets to be the lead single is exciting. After all, you don't want it to be the one that doesn't work. I've been on both sides of it. To have something that works, and is unique that you haven't heard the artist do before is really a cool feeling. I wrote it with Natalie Hemby and Shane McAnally, who are two good friends of mine, so it's always cool to have a song going up the charts that you wrote with some friends."
With the McGraw cut, Laird says it allowed him to go back and revisit his musical roots a bit. "I've been a Tim McGraw fan since I was in high school," he admits. "He actually recorded that song about a year before it was ever released. We didn't know if it was going to end up making the album, if it would get shelved, or what the plan was. So, it was really cool. He was someone I just remember watching on the CMA Awards, so to have him singing words that you wrote, it's a really surreal moment."
The third No. 1 with his name listed on it during 2013 was Hunter Hayes' "Somebody's Heartbreak." Laird says he had a special feeling about Hayes when he first met him. "Hunter and I wrote for the same publishing company. I knew he was super talented. We had written multiple songs together, but you never know how who is going to blow up. You can really see that he is in it for the long haul. It was an honor to be a part of that project."
In addition, Laird also got to be a part of the Kacey Musgraves story. "It's been one of the coolest thing because it was so organic how that all came together. I had been writing songs with Kacey, and Shane had been writing songs with her long before she had a record deal. All of a sudden, what we were doing was taking on a life of it's own, and she really wanted us to co-produce the album. When she first asked me, I told her I was honored, but if it's going to keep you from getting a record deal, I really want to make sure the record company was on board. It's such a testament to the artist that she is that she had a vision for what she wanted. That was one of those projects that came across very organically, and has taken on a life of its' own – even without having a major hit."
He is also producing Show Dog – Universal newcomers Native Run, and teenage artist Maggie Chapman, but he stresses that he is not quite ready to give up his day job yet to sit behind the glass full time. "I enjoyed doing that, but I always see myself first and foremost as a songwriter. To me, if it's something that is organic like that, and I can help create the sound, then I will totally do it. But, I want to make sure it's an artist that I genuinely believe in where I'm not just doing it to get paid. It's fun, and if it's the right project, I really enjoy it."