Having made their respective livings by observing life, love and the human condition for the better part of three decades, Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin have become two of the industry’s most celebrated country and pop songwriters.
Among the songs Douglas has penned are “Grown Men Don’t Cry” (recorded by Tim McGraw), “Raise ‘Em Up” (Keith Urban and Eric Church) and the Oscar-nominated “Coming Home” from Country Strong. In 2014, he joined the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Shamblin, who co-wrote the iconic Bonnie Raitt hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” has also had hits with “Life’s a Dance” (for John Michael Montgomery) and the Randy Travis classic, “He Walked on Water,” and became a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member in 2011. While they continue to team with other writers, the pair has been writing songs together for more than 12 years.
In addition to the remarkable success they have both had on the charts, Douglas and Shamblin also share a gift for bringing darker, more challenging subject matter into the light, finding acceptance for such unlikely material at country radio as Shamblin’s “Don’t Laugh at Me,” a plea against bullying that was popularized by Mark Wills, and Douglas’s “Love’s the Only House,” a call for greater compassion that became one of Martina McBride biggest hits.
Their latest collaboration is Shatter the Madness, a thoroughly inspired – and inspiring – four-song, four-video project which considers the turbulence of the country’s current political climate and takes collaboration to a whole new, more urgent level, all in an effort to reclaim and inspire something they consider in short supply these days: hope.
The project began with the songwriters’ Grammy-nominated “The House That Built Me,” a Number One hit for Miranda Lambert. In the inaugural video, which premiered last month, Douglas performed a poignant version of the tune. It’s no coincidence that the song which bookends that performance – and serves as the title track for the Shatter the Madness project premieres today, just as the Republican National Convention concludes and before the Democratic Convention begins.
“‘Shatter’ was written over four years ago, Shamblin tells Rolling Stone Country. “Seeing our nation and world in crisis Tom and I could no longer leave it on the shelf. We realize it might only be a teardrop of hope in an ocean of despair but we released it anyway because we believe songs change lives and Love Conquers All.”
“The truth is we didn’t really want to do this. We had to do it,” Douglas adds. “It’s as if the song chose us. We didn’t write it; it wrote to us for a time such as this. The minor chords in the verse give in to the joyous melody in the chorus: ‘Only love is the hammer strong enough to scatter the sadness and shatter the madness, and the people say AMEN.'”
The four songs on the project, (“The House That Built Me,” “Legacy,” “Good Man Gone Bad” and “Shatter the Madness”) each represented with a corresponding video, follow a single protagonist through the entire storyline, as he experiences happiness, despair and anger, and in the final title track and clip returns to a place of love and hope.
See the three previous videos, each of which includes conversations with the songwriters, at TomDouglasMusic.com.