A Chance E-mail To Garth Brooks Changed Mitch Rossell’s Career
Mitch Rossell’s name may not ring a bell, but there’s a chance you’ve probably heard some of his songs without…
Mitch Rossell; Photo by Robby Klein
Mitch Rossell’s name may not ring a bell, but there’s a chance you’ve probably heard some of his songs without even knowing it. The up-and-coming artist, who hails from the hills of East Tennessee, has found success within Nashville’s songwriting circles. Not only has he been credited as the sole writer behind Garth Brooks‘ 2017 smash, “Ask Me How I Know,” but he also co-wrote the country icon’s follow up singles, “All Day Long” and “Dive Bar,” which features Blake Shelton.
Now Rossell is focusing on his own career as an artist. He recently released his new single, “American Dream,” and debuted an accompanying video to match. The emotional tune, co-written with good friend Dave Turnbull, captures the American spirit by acknowledging those who work hard to make a living while continuing the fight to make all of their dreams come true.
Rossell opened up about the inspiration behind the new track with Country Now, saying, “[‘American Dream’] felt like [a song] that would unify people or make people feel that we have more in common than we think. We all want the best, for our families, we want to be able to face our dreams, we want to be able to have rights, to do things that we get to do. We all want to enjoy our liberties. We all want peace. Most of us want good things for each other and ourselves. Those are the common things that all of us feel, no matter what the political spectrum you fall into.”
“To me, we’re so much bigger than the political stuff, and we all have the same goals, but we have different ways of getting there. I think treating each other poorly because of that reason, is not a good strategy. It is not who we are as a country,” he continued. “So my buddy Dave and I wanted to find a theme of something that everybody could grab onto and lock arms on and go, ‘Hell yeah, we believe in this.’ I feel like ‘American Dream’ does that for so many people.”
Perhaps the idea of bringing people together couldn’t be more fitting given the current climate with the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, as Americans and the rest of the world continue to pull together and make sacrifices to slow the spread of the virus. When Rossell first heard the news of COVID-19, he said he considered delaying the “American Dream” release. However, he quickly realized the impact the song had on him, as well as others who heard it.
“Music is the thing we need right now. We need to hear these kinds of messages because it reminds us of what we’re fighting for,” Rossell said. “We’re fighting together for the same goals – to keep each other healthy and safe, and to get this country stronger every day. Not in just one way, but in every way, in the way we treat each other, economically, all these things, you know, for our children, for our children’s children, we want to create the best environment we can. I think it’s up to us to keep fighting for it and keep grinding and keep clawing just the way our parents and our grandparents did.”
Like the message behind “American Dream,” Rossell is no stranger to putting in the time and work to see his professional successes come to fruition. The singer/songwriter first picked up the guitar during his freshman year of college as a way to honor his late father. He then moved to Nashville 15 days after graduation and later found himself climbing up the musical ranks, playing local venues and participating in songwriting sessions. But, his road to securing a top hit was anything but quick. He wanted to make sure his penmanship was polished enough for him to feel confident as a writer.
“I first moved [to Nashville] to focus on songwriting. I didn’t think I wanted to be an artist,” Rossell recalled of his early years in Nashville. “I started writing songs as much as I could. Now and then, I would take a meeting, and it was usually positive, but they would critique something, and it would just get me fired up. So, I’d go home and write my next best song.”
“That growth period over a few years was really good for me,” Rossell continued. “I played my first real show about a year into moving to town, and I fell in love with it. I started playing four or five times a week, for a living, and playing for tips, and writing songs during the day. I think that was helpful for me. It helped me become a better craftsman instead of just writing to write. I started to learn how to craft songs. The more I did it, the more I was around people that knew what they were doing.”
Rossell’s days of perfecting his song lyrics eventually led to a friendship with Brooks who, at the time, was putting together his 2014 comeback album, Man Against Machine. Rossell tells us that he cold-emailed four of his songs to Brooks, and the two began conversating back-and-forth.
“To this day, I have no idea why or what he heard that was so unique, but I’m grateful for it,” Rossell said of Brooks’ response. “He just emailed me back and had a lot of amazing things to say, and from there we just made conversation, started hanging out a little bit, started writing a little bit, and realized we had a whole lot in common. We just became buddies.”
Though none of Rossell’s songs appeared on Brooks’ Man Against Machine, the two stayed in touch, and the legendary entertainer even invited Rossell to open for him on his world tour. Months later, on a random Saturday, Rossell penned the moving “Ask Me How I Know” with plans to cut it for his EP. He says he reached out to Brooks for some feedback, and that’s when he received some unexpected news.
“Garth told me he loved the song and wanted to cut it, but he didn’t want to take it away from me because he believed in me as an artist,” Rossell said. “I just told him that I wanted him to take it. So, that’s how that whole thing played out.”
“Ask Me How I Know” would go on to become Brooks’ first No. 1 country radio hit since 2007. And, even though Rossell has seen a song that he wrote rise to the top, he has plenty of motivation to repeat that success.
“I’m a fan of like, really really taking your time on a song or just on anything in life,” Rossell said. “If you want it to be great, you have to take your time. So I like to focus on making sure it’s right and great, and I’ve been blessed to be around people that believe the same thing to help me push that even further.”
Rossell, who is signed to Wrensong Publishing, is currently in the studio working on even more new music.
Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Country Now, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.