Hillary Lindsey owes her breakthrough into Nashville songwriting to her roommate, who was interning at a record label and took one of Lindsey's work tapes to her bosses one day. The year was 1994. "The tape got sent around to different publishers, and Famous Music signed me," Lindsey reflected to Music Row back in 2015. Her story was just beginning; she soon singed with Epic out of Los Angeles but was dropped three months later when cutbacks were made. But she didn't let that low point distract her. She began writing with several other pillars of the songwriting community, Gordie Sampson, Brett James, Troy Verges and numerous others. Within her first year of professional songwriting, she landed upwards of seven cuts.
She landed her first No. 1 hit in 2002 when Martina McBride took "Blessed" to the top, jumpstarting one of the most impressive songwriting careers in history. Over the past 15+ years, Lindsey has amassed dozens of hit singles and worked with the best of the best in country music, including A-list superstars like Carrie Underwood. You peep the liner notes of any Underwood album since the "American Idol" champ made her start in 2005, and you'll see at a least a handful of Lindsey credits. Her work doesn't stop there: Lindsey has written songs for Faith Hill, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Steven Tyler and more. Read on for our picks of Lindsey's 10 best songwriting collaborations (so far).
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10. "Grigio Girls"
Lindsey hasn't done as much pop songwriting, but her collaborations on Lady Gaga's latest album, 2016's indie-pop Joanne are among her finest moments. Forget "Million Reasons" and "A-YO," "Grigio Girls" (written with Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson and Bloodpop) has a much sturdier hook and probably should have been the album's lead single: and not the scratchy "Perfect Illusion."
9. "Two Black Cadillacs"
One of Carrie Underwood's best songs comes in the form of this southern gothic tale of revenge. When a wife and a mistress find out their man is cheating on them both, they plot a deadly plan. Underwood, Lindsey and Josh Kear turn out one of the darkest modern country songs; the music video layers on an even more sinister twist for good measure
Faith Hill finds freedom in heartache with this sweeping ode to an ex. Lindsey links up with Troy Verges for one of the best ballads of all times, tapping into that uncontrollable sorrow and resilience. Hill might be a little bruised but she uncovers more room to breathe and find herself again.
7. "Bourbon in Kentucky"
Despite being written by Lindsey, Ryan Tyndell and Gordie Sampson, Dierks Bentley steps into the story rather easily. The lyrics read as a post-breakup, bourbon-soaked lamentation; but during the creation of Riser, Bentley's father passed away. When context is layered on thick, the emotion is rather overwhelming.
6. "Three Mississippi"
Penned by Lindsey, Angelo Petraglia and (you guessed it) Troy Verges, the song is framed around the idea of counting to three and hoping and praying things will change. But for Terri Clark, "three Mississippi is where I'm at tonight," she sings. She's reached her limit and isn't willing to turn back.
5. "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)"
The storm might seem like it's endless, but Gary Alan is here to let you know that eventually the dark clouds will move on. The superstar wrote the song with Lindsey and Joseph Warren. It's stamped with plenty of Alan's signature soul and his soaring vocal. And if that background vocalist sounds familiar, that's Lindsey herself.
4. "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus"
With what is touted as one of Sara Evans' best songs, Lindsey teamed up with Aimee Mayo, Chris Lindsey and Troy Verges to craft a story about an unwed mother who fleas her hometown in the deep South. While on a Greyhound bus, she unexpectedly gives birth. "Sweet baby, girl, she looked into the face of a brand new world."
3. "Beat Up Bible"
The first song recorded by quartet Little Big Town to appear on this list is fairly fresh. Featured on the band's The Breaker record, the song reflects on the importance of faith to a family and to coping with death. Co-written with Cary Barlowe and Shane Stevens, it is a stark acoustic ballad which packs a big ole punch.
2. "Address in the Stars"
Caitlin & Will first rose to fame when the took the crown on the first season of CMT's "Can You Duet?" back in 2008. While the duo never released their debut full-length album, they did issue an impressive, self-titled EP, which contained this incredibly powerful ballad. Lindsey co-wrote the song with bandmate Caitlin Lynn, Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey.
When Lindsey, Liz Rose and Lori McKenna get together, magic happens. This might not have been a massive hit for Little Big Town, but it remains one of their finest vocal performances. The trio compares being in love to being drunk. "When I die, I don't wanna go sober," rings the hook.