Somewhere With a Songwriter

I never expected the opening scene of a book to occur in the men’s bathroom. However, this is where the story begins for the narrator of Party Like a Rockstar: The Crazy, Coincidental, Hard-Luck, and Harmonious Life of a Songwriter

You may not know the name J.T. Harding, but you have most certainly heard the songs he’s crafted and contributed to over the years. A few of these are the three-million-copy–selling “Smile” with Uncle Kracker, “Somewhere In My Car” with Keith Urban, “Somewhere With You” and “Bar at the End of the World” for Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley’s “Different For Girls,” Jake Owen’s “Alone With You,” superstar Blake Shelton’s No. 1 hit song “Sangria,” and Darius Rucker’s feel-good hit “Beers and Sunshine.”

Harding’s memoir shows what it takes to go from South Detroit (just like the Journey song) to the top of the Nashville charts. Through the trials and tribulations, music was (and is) the driving force. He explains, “Music gave me goosebumps. Music made me dream. Music made me strut instead of walk. Music was always there for me—happy, sad, or in between. Music transformed my front porch into a stage.”

As a kid playing rock and roll in his parents’ garage, Harding’s was a world in which every taste of new music, from KISS to Prince and everyone in between, was a revelation. Inspired by his favorite artists, he abandoned the classic ‘American Dream’ and ran away to Los Angeles, where he formed a band and became part of the music scene there, all the while selling records to his favorite artists and producers at Tower Records. Eventually, the hard work paid off and he wound up writing chart-toppers with multi-platinum artists.

Harding discusses his life-long obsession with dissecting songs and finding the inspiration to create his own. In addition, he gives the reader insight into the origins and construction of his most recognizable songs. The advice he provides to aspiring songwriters is fundamental. Party Like a Rockstar encourages you to use your own voice and to fight for your dreams so they know you care about them.

Some memorable moments mentioned include his stint as a personal assistant to an individual identified as “Sequin Pajamas,” a brief encounter with “The Purple One,” and a heartfelt discussion with “Desmond Child.” In addition, he offers a challenge – one that I happily accepted and thought was quite clever.

The memoir is a full-circle adventure beginning and ending in Nashville. His unshakable love for rock and roll is one I relate with on so many levels. The story is told with vivid detail and it felt like I was along for the ride through the good times and the bad. I loved every minute of it! Party Like a Rockstar is a must for music lovers and anyone who wants to learn how to write a hit song. 

Party Like a Rockstar: The Crazy, Coincidental, Hard-Luck, and Harmonious Life of a Songwriter by J.T. Harding is available wherever books are sold February 22 via Twelve Books.