Every year, countless singers leave home and descend on Nashville with visions of superstardom dancing in their heads, and every year most of those singers return to Moose Dick, Montana, with their tails between their legs. However, if you look good with your shirt off, à la Kenny Chesney, or have a surgically enhanced rack, à la Kellie Pickler, you've got a better shot as a recording artist than those who've been beaten with an ugly stick, because you'll look good in a video on CMT. On the other hand, if you can write good songs, Nashville will keep you around to pen hits for the singing cowboy hats on their label. But it is rare for someone pegged as a songwriter to cross the bridge over troubled waters to become a Nashville recording artist. Singer/songwriter Phil Vassar is that rare anomaly, a good songwriter who wrote hits for Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, and Alan Jackson in the '90s before being signed as an artist by Jackson's label, Arista Nashville. Possessed of a good voice and piano chops, Vassar has carved out a nice career for himself as one of country music's good guys, an affable entertainer with a stable of hits, including the number ones "Just Another Day in Paradise" and "Real Love," and his good-natured 2009 chart hit, "Bobbi With an I," just might be the only country tune ever about a cross-dressing redneck. Vassar may or may not look good sans shirt, but in any case, score one for the songwriters.
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