Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Roger Cook

Ep. 81 - Roger Cook

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing: Brit Pop Prominence to Nashville Dominance

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Scott heads over to Roger's house on the outskirts of Nashville to get the lowdown on how jealousy motivated him to write his first song; why Bing Crosby helped him impress his dad; what he and John Prine were doing at 3:00 in the morning that resulted in a pair of #1 hits; how it feels to hear your tune in the grocery store when you're buying cereal; why he used to hate his best-known song; and how he became one of the only writers in Nashville history to pitch a future #1 hit to an artist by singing it live with a ukulele. Plus, we find out once and for all what the heck the title "I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" means!

Though he is now a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, the British-born Roger Cook began his career in the UK, first making a splash on the US charts with The Fortunes’ Top 10 hit recording of “You’ve Got Your Troubles.” Additional US singles in that era included the Top 10 hits “Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman,” by Whistling Jack Smith, and “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” by The Fortunes. 

In 1972 Cook scored with two different versions of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” an international hit that began as a groundbreaking commercial jingle for Coca-Cola before becoming a successful single for The Hillside Singers and then The New Seekers. Later that year he topped the charts with The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress).” He and longtime songwriting partner Roger Greenaway were named British Songwriters of the Year two years in a row for 1971 and 1972 at the Ivor Novello awards in the the UK.

In the mid-1970s, Cook moved to Nashville, where he found success with a string of #1 hits, including BMI Country Song of the Year “Talking in Your Sleep” for Crystal Gayle, “I Believe in You” for Don Williams, and “Love is on a Roll,” a song co-written with John Prine that became another #1 for Williams. Additional chart-topping hits include ASCAP Country Song of the Year “One Night at a Time” and “I Just Want to Dance With You,” both #1 singles for George Strait.

Roger’s songs have been recorded by The Drifters, Frankie Valli, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, John Prine, Sonny & Cher, Chet Atkins, Nancy Wilson, Bette Midler, Petula Clark, Brenda Lee, Clint Black, Amy Grant, Reba McEntire, and others. He is a Grammy nominee, ACM nominee, three-time CMA Song of the Year nominee, and the only British inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Additionally, he and Roger Greenaway were inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.  

Songcraft's Roger Cook Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy a selection of Roger's great songs. 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.