Or are they?
Stapleton got his start writing hits for other country artists before recording Traveller, and many people have heard his handiwork and not even known it.
The list is remarkable for its varied collaborators. Stapleton’s written for both George Strait and Luke Bryan, and it’s easy to see how he became so successful in country music. He knew how to write songs for artists that deftly capitalize on their past successes while still maintaining an original voice.
If anything, Stapleton’s story is another reminder that if you work hard enough at something you love, big things can happen.
Check out some of his greatest songwriting hits below.
Darius Rucker, “Come Back Song”
Stapleton co-wrote this song with Rucker and Casey Beathard, and it hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2010. It boasts a great sing-along chorus and easily relatable subject matter, something that Stapleton would become known for in other songs written for other artists.
Luke Bryan, “Drink A Beer”
Arguably one of Bryan’s most mature songs, he co-wrote “Drink a Beer” with Stapleton and Jim Beavers. Bryan has called it “the coolest sad song ever”, and it was received well by critics and audiences upon its release, mostly for the disconnect between the party-hard title and the actual lyrics of the song. It reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2014.
Steel Magnolia, “Keep On Lovin’ You”
Stapleton co-wrote this one with Trent Willmon for the married duo Steel Magnolia. It’s a simple song about devotion to your spouse, and Stapleton would use that subject matter again on Traveller’s “More Of You”. “Keep On Lovin’ You” reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2010.
George Strait, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright”
That’s right, Stapleton’s written for The King, too. He co-wrote this one with Al Anderson. The second single off Strait’s Here For A Good Time, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” is classic mid-tempo Strait that echoes some of his earlier hits like “Check Yes or No,” “Write This Down” and “Blue Clear Sky.” It peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2012.
Kenny Chesney, “Never Wanted Nothin’ More”
Co-written with Ronnie Bowman, this was Chesney’s second single on his Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates album. The song is a story about how priorities change as one goes through life, and it sounds a lot like earlier Chesney songs “I Go Back,” “Never Gonna Feel That Way Again,” and “There Goes My Life.” “Never Wanted Nothing More”‘s reliability earned the song a No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2007.
Josh Turner, “Your Man”
Sung at weddings everywhere after its release in 2005, “Your Man” was co-written by Stapleton with Chris DuBois and Jace Everett. It became the first No. 1 of Turner’s career, and earned Stapleton an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award for his songwriting work.
Honorable mentions: “If It Hadn’t Been for Love, ” recorded by Adele. “Something to Do with My Hands,” recorded by Thomas Rhett.