Barry Dean (songwriter)

Barry Dean (born c. 1967) is an American country and pop music songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee. He has written three No. 1 singles with “Pontoon” (Little Big Town),[1]Day Drinking” (Little Big Town) and "Think a Little Less" (Michael Ray), along with a Top 40 hit with “Girls Chase Boys” (Ingrid Michaelson).[2] He has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song on Tim McGraw's "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools."

Barry Dean
Background information
Born (1967-05-10) May 10, 1967
Okmulgee, OK
OriginPittsburg, Kansas
Occupation(s)Singer-Songwriter, Record Producer
Years active2003-Present
Associated actsLittle Big Town, Hunter Hayes, Ingrid Michaelson

Early life

Dean was born in Okmulgee, OK and grew up in rural Pittsburg, KS.[2] He wrote songs and played in bands throughout high school and during his time at Pittsburg State University. Dean briefly pursued songwriting in Los Angeles but abandoned that in his 20s.[2]

Dean returned to Pittsburg and worked as Creative Director for Pitsco Incorporated. He was involved in the education business for several years with a focus on marketing and media technology.[2] In his mid-30s, Dean’s wife encouraged him to pursue songwriting again and signed him up for a cruise held by the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International for aspiring songwriters.[3] The NSAI subsequently invited Dean to a song camp in Nashville.[3] He considers this camp a formative experience where he learned how to write professionally[4] and began to co-write with other Nashville writers.[2]

Songwriting career

For his first years as a songwriter Dean continued to live in Kansas and would commute into Nashville to co-write. He eventually moved to Nashville and signed with BMG in his mid-30s.[5] His first songwriting cut was Reba McEntire playing “Moving Oleta,”[2] a personal song Dean wrote based on his grandfather’s love for his spouse as she went through Alzheimer’s Disease.[6] His first single, Matrina McBride’s “God’s Will,” was also personal, written in response to his daughter’s premature birth and slow recovery.[7] Rolling Stone included “God’s Will” on its list of the “Saddest Country Songs of All Time.”[8]

Dean has had two No. 1 hits with Little Big Town, his first with “Pontoon” and again with “Day Drinking.”[2] “Pontoon” has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[9] Dean also reached No. 1 with “Think a Little Less” recorded by Michael Ray.[5] Dean has co-written many hit radio singles including Jason Aldean’s “1994,” Brothers Osborne’s “Rum,” Hunter Hayes’ “Tattoo,” Toby Keith’s “Drinks After Work," Ashley Monroe's "On to Something Good," and Allison Krauss & Union Station's "My Love Follows You Where You Go."[2] In addition to country, Dean's “Girls Chase Boys,” co-written and performed by Ingrid Michaelson, appeared on multiple radio charts, won a BMI Pop Award, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.[2]

In the past decade, Dean has had songs recorded by Jason Aldean, Charlotte Church, Billy Currington, Brett Eldredge, Hunter Hayes, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood, Jon Pardi, Brothers Osbourne, Lori McKenna, and Maren Morris, among others.[10]

Pontoon,” co-written with Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby, went on to be nominated for a number of Country Music Awards.[11][12] Tim McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Barstools,” which Dean co-wrote with Luke Laird and Jonathan Singleton, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song.[5] His music has appeared in movies, such as Act of Valour, and TV shows, such as Nashville and NCIS.[10]

Dean is primarily a co-writer, often working with songwriters Luke Laird, Lori McKenna, and Natalie Hemby.[13] Dean left Universal Music to join Creative Nation with Beth and Luke Laird.[14][13]

In appreciation for providing him a place to stay after his first child’s premature birth, Dean has been an outspoken advocate and organized a benefit for the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States.[15][16]

Songwriting Discography[10]

Year Artist Album Song Co-written with
2003 Martina McBride Martina "God's Will" Tom Douglas
Reba McEntire Room To Breathe "Moving Oleta"
2006 Heartland I Loved Her First "Judge A Man" Don Poythress
John Corbett John Corbett "Judge A Man" Don Poythress
2007 Carrie Underwood Carnival Ride "Crazy Dreams" Troy Verges
Lewis, Scruggs & Long Lifetimes "James White" Don Poythress, Brian White
2008 Hush Backroads "Hush" Gerlach, Hartmann
Chris Eaton Dare To Dream "Alright" Don Poythress, Chris Eaton
Phil Stacey Phil Stacey "No Way Around A River" Harrington
2009 Karen Peck and New River No Worries "The Hour I First Believed" Tony Wood, Don Poythress
2010 Bill Anderson Songwriter "One Bad Memory" Bill Anderson, Tim Nichols
Laura Bell Bundy Achin' and Shakin' "Boyfriend" Luke Laird, Laura Bell Bundy
Adam Brand It's Gonna Be Ok "Kiss You Back" Adam Brand, Travis Meadows
Don Poythress feat. Ricky Scaggs Wash Away " Faithful Love Of Jesus" Don Poythress, Karyn Rochelle
Clay Walker She Won't Be Lonely Long "People In Planes" Luke Laird
Lori McKenna Christmas Release "Wishlist" Mary Steenburgen, Troy Verges, Lori McKenna
Whitney Duncan iTunes EP "Getting Off Now" Luke Laird, Whitney Duncan
Katharine McPhee Unbroken "Last Letter" Luke Laird, Katharine McPhee
"Anybody's Heart" Luke Laird, Katharine McPhee
Guy Penrod Breathe Deep "Breathe Deep" Don Poythress, Tony Wood
2011 Neal McCoy XII "A-OK" Luke Laird, Brett Eldredge
Alison Krauss Paper Airplane "My Love Follows Where You Go" Lori McKenna, Liz Rose
Hunter Hayes Storm Warning "Cry With You" Hunter Hayes
"Faith To Fall Back On" Hunter Hayes
"Can't Say Love" Hunter Hayes
Sara Evans Stronger "Life Without Losing" Luke Laird, Sara Evans, Andrew Dorff
Lori McKenna Lorraine "American Revolver" Lori McKenna
"The Most" Lori McKenna
"Still Down Here" Lori McKenna
"Rocket Science" Lori McKenna
Meat Loaf, John Rich, Lil Jon, Mark McGrath Feat. on Celebrity Apprentice "Stand In The Storm" Troy Verges
Martina McBride Eleven "Ask The Boy" Troy Verges
Charlotte Church Back to Scratch "The Story Of Us" Luke Laird, Charlotte Church
"Suitcase" Luke Laird, Charlotte Church
"Unraveling" Luke Laird, Charlotte Church
2012 Little Big Town Tornado Pontoon Luke Laird, Natalie Hemby
Kellie Pickler 100 Proof "Rockaway" Kellie Pickler, Brent Cobb
Hunter Hayes Act of Valor: The Album "Where We Left Off" Hunter Hayes
Jay Sean, Jewel, Owl City ConAgra Child Hunger Campaign "Here's Hope" Luke Laird, Hunter Hayes
Montgomery Gentry Act of Valor: The Album "What It Takes" Troy Verges, Andrew Dorff
Neil McCoy XII "Judge A Man" Donald Poythress
Marlee Scott Beautiful Maybe "Rhinestone in the Rough" Lesley Roy, Desmond Child
Trent Dabbs Future Like Snow "Better Off Now" Trent Dabbs
"Hoping For Home" Trent Dabbs, Luke Laird, Mary Steenburgen
"Future Like Snow" Trent Dabbs, Lori McKenna
Brandon Heath Blue Mountain "Blue Mountain" Luke Laird, Brandon Heath
2013 Jason Aldean Night Train "1994" Luke Laird, Thomas Rhett
Toby Keith Drinks After Work "Drinks After Work" Luke Laird, Natalie Hemby
Ronnie Dunn I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes "I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes" Luke Laird, Lori McKenna
Jake Owen Days of Gold "Tall Glass Of Something" Luke Laird, Jaren Johnston
Thomas Rhett It Goes Like This "Sorry For Partyin'" Jimmy Robbins, Thomas Rhett
Billy Currington We Are Tonight "Another Day Without You" Andrew Dorff, Shane McAnally
Brett Eldredge Bring You Back "Gotta Get There" Luke Laird, Brett Eldredge
2014 Little Big Town Pain Killer "Day Drinking" Troy Verges, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet
Brothers Osborne Brothers Osborne "Rum" John Osborne, T. J. Osborne
Hunter Hayes Storyline "Tattoo" Troy Verges, Hunter Hayes
Ingrid Michaelson Lights Out "Girls Chase Boys" Ingrid Michaelson, Trent Dabbs
Blake Shelton Bringing Back the Sunshine "Anyone Else" Luke Laird, Natalie Hemby
Hunter Hayes Storyline "Flashlight" Troy Verges, Hunter Hayes
"Wild Card" Luke Laird, Hunter Hayes
Steve Moakler Wide Open "Crooked Heart" Steve Moakler
Angaleena Presley American Middle Class "Surrender" Luke Laird, Angaleena Presley
2015 Tim McGraw Sundown Heaven Town "Diamond Rings and Old Barstools" Luke Laird, Jonathan Singleton
Ashley Monroe Blade "On To Something Good" Luke Laird, Ashley Monroe
Hunter Hayes The 21 Project "Saint or a Sinner" Hunter Hayes, Lori McKenna
2016 Hunter Hayes TBA "Yesterday's Song" Hunter Hayes, Martin Johnson
Michael Ray Michael Ray "Think a Little Less" John Nite, Jimmy Robbins, Thomas Rhett
Lori McKenna The Bird & the Rifle "Halfway Home" Lori McKenna
"Old Men, Young Women" Luke Laird, Lori McKenna
LeAnn Rimes Remnants "How to Kiss a Boy" LeAnn Rimes
2017 Brothers Osborne Pawn Shop "Dirt Rich" John Osborne, T. J. Osborne
"Rum" John Osborne, T. J. Osborne
The Steel Wools Straw in the Wind "The Well" Brent Cobb
Little Big Town The Breaker "Free" Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, Lori McKenna
Steve Moakler Steel Town "Siddle's Saloon" Steve Moakler
2018 Devin Dawson Dark Horse "Dip" Devin Dawson, Luke Laird
BØRNS Blue Madonna "We Don't Care" BØRNS

Production Discography

Year Artist Album Details
2011 Lori McKenna Lorraine Producer
Travis Meadows Killin' Uncle Buzzy Producer
2012 Sugar and the Hi Lows High Roller Producer

Awards and nominations



  • MusicRow’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year Nominee[18]
  • CMA Song of the Year Nominee for Little Big Town’s “Pontoon”[19]
  • ACA Song of the Year Nominee for Little Big Town’s “Pontoon”
  • NSAI Songs I Wish I'd Written Award for Little Big Town’s “Pontoon”


  • NSAI Songs I Wish I'd Written Award for Tim McGraw's "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools"
  • BMI Pop Award for Ingrid Michaelson's "Girls Chase Boys"[20]



  1. Parker, Eric (September 4, 2012). "Little Big Town Earns First No. 1 Single". MusicRow.
  2. Schlansky, Evan (August 4, 2014). "Writer Of The Week: Barry Dean". American Songwriter.
  3. Reuter, Annie (March 31, 2017). "The Writer's Round with Barry Dean". Sounds like Nashville.
  4. Staff. "Barry Dean Calls NSAI Song Camp a 'Rare Opportunity.'".
  5. McIntosh, Dan (April 19, 2017). "Barry Dean".
  6. Dauphin, Chuck (October 2, 2014). "Little Big Town's Secret: Natalie Hemby and Barry Dean on Writing Country Hits". Billboard.
  7. Gooding, Sarah (February 13, 2016). "Barry Dean Nominated for Grammy". Morning Sun.
  8. Staff. "40 Saddest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone.
  9. Waterman, Dan (January 21, 2013). "How Did They Write That? Little Big Town's 'Pontoon'". American Songwriter.
  10. Staff (Summer 2018). "Barry Dean: Credits". All Music.
  11. Staff (October 17, 2013). "BMI Writers Owen, Steele, Jennings and Martine Honored at NaSHOF". BMI.
  12. Murray, Rebecca (October 31, 2013). "2013 American Country Awards Nominees Announced".
  13. McIntosh, Dan (April 19, 2017). "Barry Dean".
  14. Bialas, Michael (December 6, 2017). "With High Roller (and Song Premiere), Sugar and the Hi-Lows Sweeten the Pot". Huffington Post.
  15. Larimore, Jordan (November 5, 2017). "Songwriter Barry Dean Stayed at Ronald McDonald House after Daughter's Premature Birth". Jopling Globe.
  16. Staff (October 28, 2017). "Noted Nashville Songwriter Returns Home to Give Back". Pitt State (Newspaper).
  17. "Country Music Association Awards - 2012 | Winners & Nominees". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  18. Nicholson, Jessica (May 22, 2013). "'MusicRow' Awards Announce Breakthrough Songwriter Nominees".
  19. "Searchable CMA Awards Database". Country Music Association.
  20. Skates, Sarach (May 15, 2015). "Nashvillians Bring Home BMI Pop Awards". Music Crow.
  21. "Grammys 2016 Preview: The Inside Scoop on the Best Country Song and Country Album Nominees". February 13, 2016.
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