Role Models: Peter Cooper on Tom T. Hall

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  Every now and again, a songwriter friend will ask me, “Why Tom T. Hall?” And when they do, I usually start by mentioning that Tom T., Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and John Hartford changed the very language of country music, bringing a literacy and emotional clarity that was completely different than what had come […]

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The Top Ten Country Songs Every Songwriter Should Know

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To view #11-50, click here. OK, I admit it: These aren’t the best 50 country songs. In fact, I’ll submit that there is no such thing as the “best” or the “greatest” when it comes to songs. Making “Long Black Veil” arm-wrestle with “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is silly and fruitless. Championships are for sports, […]

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50 Country Songs Every Songwriter Should Know

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To view the Top Ten Songs, go here. 11. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” Written and recorded by Hank Williams. Released 1949. A nearly surreal weeper, Hank Williams’ evocative ballad utilized language in a way that was completely new for its country music time, and completely influential in ours. “The silence of a falling […]

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Merle Haggard: As He Is (Part 3)

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“It is a character study,” Haggard said in his American Songwriter interview, then revealing that his 1969 self was the character. “It was the photograph that I took of the way things looked through the eyes of a fool. I was just as dumb as a rock at about that time, and most of America […]

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Merle Haggard: As He Is (Part 2)

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Haggard’s childhood provided significant hardship and sadness, both of which continues to channel into song. In “Oil Tanker Train,” he sings a line that could be sung believably by none but Haggard as he relates the way that an oil tanker train “Would rumble and rattle the old boxcar we lived in/And I was a […]

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Merle Haggard: As He Is

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“Songwriting gets harder and harder, unless you just want to try to write a better version of what you’ve already done,” said Merle Haggard, 73, sitting in a Middle Tennessee studio and making clear that he wants much more than that. Meanwhile, hundreds of nearby Nashville songwriters worked in vain to write even passable versions […]

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BUDDY & JULIE MILLER: The Proof is On the Pizza Boxes or Nothing is Written in Stone

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It’s an unusual duo album…

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RODNEY CROWELL: Closer to Heaven

Photo by Alan Messner

RODNEY CROWELL: Closer to Heaven

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TOM T. HALL: Old Dogs, Children, Watermelon, Wine & Other Stories

Tom T. Hall has been an author, a garment factory worker, a cemetery groundskeeper, a military man and a disc jockey…

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GARY ALLAN: Writing His Way Through the Pain

Gary Allen

As Allan’s music gets louder, it also has grown deeper and more honest.

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