Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Rodney Crowell

Ep. 125 - Rodney Crowell  

"After All This Time" - Still the Coolest Guy in Nashville


Scott and Paul chat about their friends at Pearl Snap Studios, Paul's recent ASCAP award, the Ken Burns Country Music documentary, a sad loss in the songwriting community, and how an encounter with Rodney Crowell made an impression on Paul when he was in fifth grade. 

PART TWO - 12:03 mark
Scott sits down for an in-depth conversation with Rodney Crowell in Nashville during Americanafest.

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Scott gets together with Rodney Crowell to hear why Townes Van Zandt stealing his girlfriend led to his first cut as a songwriter; how he went from making $7 a night and living in his car to landing a publishing deal; why he told his wife to take her time bailing him out of jail so he could write one of his now-classic songs; how getting rejected by Anne Murray led to getting discovered by Emmylou Harris; the song he realized he inadvertently ripped off when writing “Ashes By Now;” the reason he decided to re-write one of his most classic songs years after it had become a hit; the song he and Rosanne Cash wrote that he still wishes she’d record; how he co-wrote a song with Roy Orbison from beyond the grave; why he now regrets speaking out about covers of his songs he didn’t particularly like; which of his recent compositions he calls one of the best songs he’s ever written; and why he feels like he didn’t find his voice and become a real recording artist until his tenth album.  

Emmylou Harris—who once employed Rodney Crowell as the guitarist, harmony singer, and arranger in her legendary Hot Band—introduced many listeners to Crowell’s songs, which then went on to become hits for other artists. “Til I Gain Control Again” was covered by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Bobby Bare before Crystal Gaye took it to the top of the country charts. “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” and “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” became number one hits for The Oak Ridge Boys and Waylon Jennings, respectively. “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” went on to become a hit for both Lynn Anderson and the duo of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, while “Ashes By Now” became a Top 5 single for Lee Ann Womack before going on to be covered by Etta James.    

While it was Harris who first shone the spotlight on Crowell, he soon established his own successful artist career, becoming the first country singer to earn five number-one hits from a single album. His biggest self-penned singles as an artist include “It’s Such a Small World,” “She’s Crazy for Leaving,” “Many a Long and Lonesome Highway,” “If Looks Could Kill,” “Lovin’ All Night,” “What Kind of Love,” “I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried,” which was nominated for a Best Country Song Grammy, and “After All This Time,” which was nominated for both CMA and ACM Song of the Year and won a Grammy for Best Country Song.

Crowell songs that have become number one hits for other artists include Bob Seger’s recording of “Shame on the Moon,” The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper’s Dream),” “Somewhere Tonight” by Highway 101, Tim McGraw’s recording of “Please Remember Me” and Keith Urban’s cover of “Making Memories of Us.” Additional highlights of his catalog include Vince Gill’s Top 10 recording of “Oklahoma Borderline”; “Stars on the Water,” which has been recorded by Jimmy Buffett and George Strait; “Voila an American Dream,” which has been recorded by Guy Clark and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; and “Song for the Life,” which was recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kathy Mattea, and Alison Krauss before becoming a Top 10 hit for Alan Jackson.

As a producer, Crowell was behind a string of hits for then-wife Rosanne Cash, including “Seven Year Ache,” “Ain’t No Money,” which he wrote, and “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” which he and Rosanne co-wrote and which earned him his first of sixteen Grammy nominations. Crowell has since been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting from the Americana Music Association, the prestigious ASCAP Founder’s Award, the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award, and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
In recent years Crowell has become an Americana darling with critically-acclaimed albums such as The Houston Kid, Fate’s Right Hand, The Outsider, Sex and Gasoline, and a pair of duet albums with Emmylou Harris, Old Yellow Moon and The Traveling Kind. His latest album is called Texas.

Songcraft's Rodney Crowell
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