Thomas said Nelson's song, "I'd Have to Be Crazy," was one that affected him like music never had before, and was one he listened to over and over again.
"I really thought about how clever these lyrics were and how great these chord changes were," Thomas said of the song. "If I have to pick the one person to me who reigns above all as just my favorite songwriter, my favorite performer, the person who means the most to me as a musical entity -- it's got to be Willie."
35-year-old Thomas, grew up when MTV was just getting its start. He remembers the first day MTV aired, and has fond memories of the songs that vividly bring him back to those moments in his childhood.
"Growing up right at the beginning of MTV ... I get really fuzzy hearing Don Henley, "Boys of Summer," Thomas said. "Every time I hear that I can immediately feel like I am that little kid sitting in front of the TV watching it."
"You feel all of the feelings that you felt when you were a kid. There's only a couple songs that can do that every time I hear it -- still at 35."
Around the holidays, Thomas is a self-described "Christmas geek." He admits to having a large collection of Christmas music on his iPod, a fact his friends tease him about. His collection includes everything from the Backstreet Boys to Mariah Carey, to Don Henley's version of "Come Home for Christmas."
"I love the Mariah Carey Christmas album," said Thomas. "Being a child of the 80s I like going back to those MTV 'That's What I Call Christmas' Christmas CDs and you got like all the greats: Darryl Hall and John Oates doing 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' ... Don Henley singing 'Come Home for Christmas' -- those things just make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. "
One song Thomas can't get out of his head is Brandi Carlile's "The Story."
"I've been walking around with it in my head so much that I just want to smack her when I see her because I can't get it out of my head," said Thomas, who claims he wears his Ipod out playing the singer/songwriter's album.
Carlile reminds Thomas of a "new, improved K.D. Lang," with "just this amazing voice and with these beautiful songs."
Thomas has expanded his playlist repertoire lately, exploring all sorts of different artists on the internet. He recently discovered songwriter Paolo Nuitin on the Web and is particularly inspired by his song "Last Request."
"I think that those are the moments that inspire you to want to write something," Thomas said. "You know you want to go out there and write something that inspires somebody else as much as that song inspired you. And it's like this cyclical process that keeps going on with artists."
"I'd Have to Be Crazy" WILLIE NELSON
"The Boys of Summer" DON HENLEY
"Please Come Home for Christmas" THE EAGLES
"The Story" BRANDI CARLILE
"Last Request" PAOLO NUTINI