Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Jeff Hanna

Ep. 99 - Jeff Hanna
"Bless the Broken Road"- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Co-Founder & Hit Songwriter


Scott turns the microphone around to ask Paul about the four songs he co-wrote on the album that just debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 album charts behind Paul McCartney and Eminem.

PART TWO - 6:58 mark
Our in-depth interview with four-time Grammy winner and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Co-Founder Jeff Hanna.

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Scott and Paul call up Jeff Hanna to get the inside scoop on the early days of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band when Jackson Browne was playing kazoo; how Jeff first got into writing songs during the era when he was playing in Linda Ronstadt's backup band; why he didn't want his record label to release "Mr. Bojangles" as a single; how "yacht rock" made its way into the Dirt Band; the time Steve Goodman kicked his butt in racquetball with a chemo pump in his arm; how one of their singles flopped but became a hit record 5 years later when they released the exact same record again; the reason he and his wife, Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Famer Matraca Berg, set co-writing aside; and how it's possible that Jeff never met one of his "Bless the Broken Road" co-writers until they showed up at the Grammy awards together.

Jeff Hanna is a founding member of the pioneering country-rock and American roots music institution, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with the group, Jeff has found success with songs such as “Buy For Me the Rain,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “House at Pooh Corner,” “An American Dream,” and the #1 country singles “Long Hard Road,” “Modern Day Romance,” and “Fishin’ in the Dark.”   

As a songwriter, Jeff has written or co-written many of the Dirt Band favorites, including “Bayou Jubilee,” “Make a Little Magic,” “Fire in the Sky,” “Face on the Cutting Room Floor,” “Partners, Brothers, and Friends,” “Baby’s Got a Hold on Me,” “I’ve Been Lookin’,” and “Down That Road Tonight.”

Hanna has found songwriting success outside the band with songs such as “High on Love,” which was a Top 20 country hit for Patty Loveless and “Bless the Broken Road,” which Rascal Flatts took to the top of the country chart in 2005. The latter earned Jeff a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year and a Grammy win for Best Country Song.

The CMA Album of the Year honoree and four-time Grammy winner saw his band’s legendary Will the Circle Be Unbroken album inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Archive and the Grammy Hall of Fame. He continues to tour with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and has been a consistent presence in the group for more than 50 years.  

Songcraft's Jeff Hanna Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy highlights from Jeff's catalog of original songs with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, including the original version of "Bless the Broken Road." If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.