Few people have held such a pivotal place in music history as “Cowboy” Jack Clement had. He worked with some of the greatest rock and country performers of the twentieth century and helped shape the genres at key points in music history.
Clement died August 8th after a long bout with liver cancer, just a few months before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
He was 82.
Born and reared in Memphis, Clement was performing with guitar and Dobro at an early age. After a stint in the Marines he cut his first record for the Sheraton label in Boston, Massachusetts in 1953,
The nicknamed ‘Cowboy’ Clement earned in his student days while playing pedal steel guitar with a local band. His real step toward fame came in 1956 when he joined Sam Phillips at Sun Records as a producer and engineer.
While there Clement helped shape American music history by working with Carl Perkins Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. He also fielded and recorded a curly haired kid from eastern Louisiana by the name of Jerry Lee Lewis while Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Florida. The initial session included Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms” and his own composition “End of The Road”. Later the pair would record the smash hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and the demise of the 50’s America was sealed.
in 1959, Clement began work as a producer at RCA in Nashville. After some time in Beaumont, Texas as producer and publisher Bill Hall in opening Gulf Coast Recording Studio . By 1965 he had become a significant figure in the country music business by starting a publishing business and a recording studio, where he recorded Charley Pride and Ray Stevens. In 1971, he co-founded the J-M-I Record Company.
Clement wrote many well-known and successful songs recorded stars such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins, Bobby Bare, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Jerry Lee Lewis, , Charley Pride, Tom Jones, Dickey Lee and Hank Snow. He also produced albums by Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings.
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973.
No current performer has straddled the music Row and Americana divide as deftly as Jamey Johnson.
His throwback sound, Alabama growl and biker looks appeals to those (like myself) that pine for the days of Waylon and Willie and the boys while his ear for a melody was able to grab the attention of the mainstream country radio and fans with his top 10 hit “In Color.”
Johnson is an unapologetic neo-traditional disciple of country music’s greats. He’s opened for Willie and done George Jones songs in the presence of the man himself. His next effort is to a man that influnced those giants.
On October 16th Johnson will be joined by Willie and many others on his new album, Buddy Cannon-produced Livin’ For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran. (vinyl beginning Sept. 25.)
Cochran, who died at age 74 in 2010, is considered one of the greatest songwriters in the history of country music. He helped evolve the perfect country template established by Hank Williams a generation earlier.
“If I had to dream up somebody like Hank to influence songwriters, I couldn’t have done a better job,” Johnson says. “That’s what he was– not just for me, but for Willie and for a lot of people–just a helpful friend. If he knew you needed help with something, he could help you. He was there. And that’s what I want to be for the people in my life, same as Hank. He influenced me, not only as an artist and songwriter, but also as a person.”
Cochran’s songs transcended the country genre to become American standards (a practice closely studied by Willie) his catalog includes “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” “Make the World Go Away,” “The Chair,’ “Set ‘Em Up Joe” which Johnson covered on 1010’s The Guitar Song. His songs have been recorded by artists including Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, George Jones, George Strait, Elvis Presley, Elvis Costello, Ray Price, Ronnie Milsap, Jim Reeves and many others.
Recording a collection of Hank Cochran tunes in a pop-country saturated industry takes guts, and truly reflects the original Outlaw spirit the hat acts on the radio brag having. When it came time to take the next step in his recording career, he listened to his heart and decided to embark on a labor of love. In a daring career move that is consistent with Johnson’s penchant for bucking conventional industry wisdom to create a unique path, he decided to devote his time and creative efforts to honoring his late friend and celebrate traditional country music.
Besides having a professional affinity to Cochran he also has a personal one. “Shortly after he first met Jamey, Hank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” says his widow, Suzi Cochran. “So for the two years he lived after that, Jamey would get off the road and pull his bus right up to the hospital, run up and see Hank and raise Hank’s spirits. The last time Jamey saw Hank was the night before Hank died.” Johnson joined Buddy Cannon and Billy Ray Cyrus at Cochran’s bedside as they handed the guitar back and forth while singing Cochran’s songs. Cochran died about six hours later.
“Hank adored Jamey,” Suzi Cochran says. “Hank loved Jamey. Jamey was a constant in the last chapter of Hank’s life.
“This is incredible,” she says of the tribute album. “I wish Hank had been here to see it. He wouldn’t believe it. He would have cried. He’d be happy. It’s exactly like Hank would have done it.”
I am really looking forward to hearing this release and look forward to hearing classic from it live when Johnson joins Willie Nelson and The Band of Horses on the Railroad Revival Tour 2012.
1. “Make the World Go Away” – Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss
2. “I Fall to Pieces” – Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard
3. “A Way to Survive” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill and Leon Russell
4. “Don’t Touch Me” – Jamey Johnson and Emmylou Harris
5. “You Wouldn’t Know Love” – Jamey Johnson and Ray Price
6. “I Don’t Do Windows” – Jamey Johnson and Asleep at the Wheel
7. “She’ll Be Back” – Jamey Johnson and Elvis Costello
8. “Would These Arms Be in Your Way” – Jamey Johnson
9. “The Eagle” – Jamey Johnson and George Strait
10. “A-11” – Jamey Johnson and Ronnie Dunn
11. “I’d Fight the World” – Jamey Johnson and Bobby Bare
12. “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” – Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson
13. “This Ain’t My First Rodeo” – Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack
14. “Love Makes a Fool of Us All” – Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson
15. “Everything But You” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell
16. “Livin’ for a Song” – Jamey Johnson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
Sure most genres deal with topic of love but few can work all the angles like country and roots music. Courting, marriage, sex, cheating, fighting, break-ups, shooting, disposing of bodies… it’s all there in all its heart-wrenching glory.
Some old, some new, all guaranteed to get to you some when mixed with tequila and memories.
I’m sure I let some beauties sip so feel free to add your own.
1. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
2. I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
3. Angel Flying Too Close the Ground – Willie Nelson
4. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain – Willie Nelson
5. Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson
6. Valentine’s Day – Steve Earle
7. Still I Long For Kiss – Lucinda Williams
8. Marry Me – Drive By Truckers
9. Arlington – Ridley Bent
10. Dale Watson – Every Song I Write For You
11. Before The Next Teardrop Falls – Freddy Fender
12. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich
13. Oh My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams
14. Carrying Your Love With Me – George Strait
15. Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks
16. Crazy – Patsy Cline
17. Gentle on My Mind – Glen Campbell
18. Lovin You Against My Will – Gary Allan
19. Golden Ring – George Jones and Tammy Wynette
20. He’ll Have To Go – Jim Reeves
21. Hello Darlin – Conway Twitty
22. Melissa – Allman Brothers Band
23. Hello Walls – Faron Young
24. Help Me Make It Through the Night – Sammi Smith
25. I Cross My Heart – George Strait
26. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charley Pride
27. It Only Hurts When I Cry – Dwight Yoakam
28. Please Break My Heart – Thad Cockrell and Caitlin Cary
29. Lovesick Blues – Hank Williams
30. I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry – Hank Williams