Cris Cohen: You have co-written a number of songs. What makes for a good co-writer?
John Hall: For me, a good co-writer is somebody who can help me finish a song I was having a hard time finishing.
Sometimes the match is so good that you go, "I want to write with that person again." Steve Wariner is one of those people. "You Can Dream Of Me," Steve's number one country hit… He and I wrote that together back in the 80s.
I had finished playing racquetball at The Y in Nashville. And I had a date to go to Steve's house and write after that. I was in the shower at the Y and had this idea. "If you're dreaming of someone, you can dream of me. I'm not going to follow through on it because I'm not available. I'm with somebody else."
I heard the music for the chorus and I sang it to myself the whole way there in the car so I wouldn't forget it. I walked in the door, sang it to Steve, and he said, "Great! Let's finish it." And we did in (about) an hour.
He's also really good at… I think of it like unearthing a fossil. If you find a little bone in the desert somewhere, it's like the foot of some dinosaur that's mostly buried. And you brush away with a paint brush at first to expose more of it.
Then you get to the point where you can pull on it. You don't want to break it by pulling too hard on it. The trick is to unearth that song and not destroy the vision of it or the initial inspiration.