My First Hit: Jason Nix on writing “Things a Man Oughta Know”

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Artist and songwriter Jason Nix met Lainey Wilson in 2016, and the two quickly bonded over their backgrounds and shared sensibilities. Two years later, their publisher set them up for a writing session with Jonathan Singleton, where the trio penned what would become both Wilson and Nix’s first number one song, “Things a Man Oughta Know,” Wilson’s breakout hit and Song of the Year at the 2022 ACM Awards. Below, Nix shares some things you oughta know about the making of this hit song.

What were you doing in your career before this song? There wasn’t a lot of traction. The pandemic put a hold on everything, and it put a hold on things when we were just starting to kick back up again. It was a strange time. Everybody was in a holding pattern, and that’s where I was. 

How did you first meet Lainey? The day she signed [with Sony/ATV] is when I met her. It feels like we’re on the same page, like we speak the same language in a lot of ways. She can do that to people, she makes you feel at home really fast. We hit it off then and I was lucky enough to start writing with her and loved the songs that we got. 

How did this song come about? I had the title sitting in a list of titles for a long time that I was kind of saving for myself, but I was struggling with how to make the idea matter to anyone besides me. When I thought about what it would mean if [Lainey] sang it, it obviously takes on a completely different life form, and they were both down to write it. Jonathan, like he always does, comes out of the gate swinging for the fence. We were all on that day, and we wrote the snot out of it.

What are some things men oughta know that didn’t make it into the song? That day was fun and easy and we were all cracking jokes about things that men should know but don’t do. Just the obvious things – [Lainey] would say how to put the toilet seat down. It’s just the normal stuff that we get bitched at about every once in a while, when a good bitching is deserved.

What direction did you originally want to take it in for yourself? I didn’t want to share that title at all. But it was always her song. I wanted it to be about my grandfather, but even now, I play that song as if I’m the character singing it. Because it applies to me, there’s a lot of truth in there. It’s super personal, and I think when a guy sings it, it still applies, and the song still matters to me when I sing it.

How did you feel after writing it? I didn’t think anything was gonna happen with it, but that’s how I’ve trained myself not to get disappointed. As far as I’m concerned, I just want to go in and write the best possible song I can and then completely forget about it. And then if it revisits me, that’s how I judge if it’s good for me or not. When she told me it was gonna be the single, I was really surprised but still didn’t want to get my hopes up about anything. But it turned out alright.

Were you watching the charts when it went to radio? When they took it to radio, it was there for a decent amount of time [Note: “Things a Man Oughta Know” took just over one year to hit the top spot]. I just tried to not think about it at all. I never looked, and I still haven’t heard it on the radio. I heard the tail end of it one time… and that’s about as much as I’ve heard. Just the end of it was very exciting for me to hear. [JokesMaybe I would have more of these experiences if I actually listened to the radio.

This song had a huge impact on Lainey’s career. Talk about being a part of that. What makes me happy is that I can experience it alongside everyone else in Nashville right now. I am very happy to have been a part of that song, and I love working with Lainey, but that woman busts her ass. She works harder than most anybody I’ve ever met, and she doesn’t need help at all writing a song. She deserves everything that’s coming to her, and it’s awesome to watch. That song doesn’t do anything unless Lainey sings it – that’s all her.

It was also your first number one. It was a huge deal for me, and it definitely has opened doors for me. I toe the line between what’s mainstream and Americana, but it’s caused people to listen a little more. They give it the time of the day. That song has changed my life in a lot of ways. Thanks to that song, we got out of debt, which is a huge deal. It’s a huge blessing, and the thing that I was most excited about is that I got to share that first number one with her. It sounds so freaking cheesy, but I’m so stinking proud of her.

“Things a Man Oughta Know” won Song of the Year at the 2022 ACM Awards. It’s heavy! And I just realized the top is a cowboy hat. I got so excited [when Lainey won]. I think I squealed like a little girl; I might have shed a tear. I jumped the railing on the fence after she got down [from the stage] and gave her a big old hug. I’ll remember that forever. That was insane.

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