Why We Write with Kim Ruehl, Eps. 53: Tim O’Brien

With about two dozen albums under his belt since the 1970s, Tim O’Brien is a verifiable songwriting veteran. He has written bluegrass songs, country songs, blues songs, Irish folk-style songs, straight-up singer-songwriter songs, and big radio hits, among others.

His latest album, Cup of Sugar, is full of songs with animal protagonists, topical themes, and a nod toward Walter Cronkite. On this episode of the Why We Write podcast, O’Brien digs into what he’s learned from writing in all these styles. He shares the wisdom of his songwriting heroes and the insight he’s gained from working so many times with Darrell Scott.

Learn why he thinks writing songs can be like watching grass grow, and why he believes Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” is one of the most perfectly written songs.

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