Finally in a place where he is being recognized for great songwriting and having his work being picked up by some of the biggest stars in the business, James Otto shares the value of being a songwriter.

In a recent interview with 99.5 WYCD’s Steve Grunwald, Otto also talks up the value of playing live and touring. Though he admits that being on the road is much harder now with a new baby girl, at the same time, he says, it’s an essential part of his life.

“I live to do this man, this is what I love, so not being on the road is not an option for me.” Besides, he jokes, there is truth to the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Aside from touring (see his upcoming concert schedule), Otto is currently working on a new album (his last collection, Shake What God Gave Ya, was released in 2010). Now that his home studio has been repaired and is “back to normal” after one of the sprinklers let loose and flooded it, he spends as much time in there as possible.

He hopes to have the new album out later this year, but in the mean time he’s been writing songs for some of his famous friends.

Enter the Zac Brown Band. James Otto co-wrote the hit song “No Hurry,” the fifth single released from ZBB’s You Get What You Give album. That in itself was a test of patience, as Otto waited for it to be released to radio (it eventually made it to Number Two on Billboard).

“We had a big ol’ hit with it, which was amazing man. It was a song that we wrote a couple of years ago…they had been telling me all along [that] it’s gonna be a single, and when they got to the fourth single and it wasn’t a single yet, I was like, it’s not gonna happen.”

Otto explains that songwriting is the “life blood,” one of the things an artist lives for. Something that pays the mortgage, keeps your baby fed and makes the car payment. So when he heard “No Hurry” on the radio for the first time (while driving with his wife in the car), he reverently admits that “we pulled over on the side of the highway and sent up a prayer, it was a beautiful thing.”

One of the things Otto appreciates and loves about his friend Zac Brown is how Zac celebrates the “laid back side of life” on his records, which he says is “something we all need.” The message he gets from ZBB’s albums resonate a familiar tone, one that says, “thank you for those days when I can do nothing. I can just sit back.”

– Nanci Haskin/99.5 WYCD

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