Why We Write with Kim Ruehl, Eps. 36: Slaid Cleaves

Slaid Cleaves is what we tend to think of as a “songwriter’s songwriter.” If you ask a swath of other songwriters whose work they most admire, his name is bound to get mentioned.

Across his dozen or so albums, he’s delivered a consistent blend of darkness and light, narrative songwriting that digs for the heart of humanity and speaks with poetry but without pretense.

With a new album, Together Through the Dark, due early in 2023, he is ready to dig again. For this episode of the Why We Write podcast, Slaid talks about the roots of his songwriting—his teenage band with fellow songwriter Rod Picott and the various stops he’s made along the way. He talks about the tricks he’s learned for getting the songs to come, how he occasionally pulls directly from newspaper stories, and of course why he continues to write songs despite having written so many good ones already. If you’re a songwriter, or just a fan of Cleaves’s work, this one is well worth a listen.

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