Songwriters are the life’s blood of the music industry. They create the tapestry upon which every artist creates their careers and their legacies. Often we never learn their names unless they are also an artist.
One of my favorite songwriters who is also an artist has created some of the songs country listeners know by heart with over 55 million of his songs sold by artists including Ricky Skaggs, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins and many more.
His name is Larry Cordle. An eastern Kentucky boy, his music was born from a family that lived so far back they needed to entertain themselves, he said. Larry and I came to know one another many years ago while performing on the road.
“Mom said I could sing ‘I’ll Fly Away’, all the way through when I was 2,” he said. “Papaw would get the fiddle out in the evenings sometimes and play and dance for us. Just as soon as I was old enough to try to learn to play, I did so and kinda seconded after him on the guitar.”
The college grad that studied accounting to support his musical habit played nights in clubs and wrote songs.
It was the summer of 1983 when his childhood neighbor Ricky Skaggs took his song “Highway 40 Blues” to the top of the charts. It was Ricky that convinced Larry to come to Nashville and write for his publishing company where Larry was able to learn from some of the best writers in the business creating for Welk Music for $200 per week.
With his band Lonesome Standard Time, he has garnered two Grammy ® nominations and numerous bluegrass and Americana awards. He is also often singing lead and harmony with fellow bluegrass stars on award winning recordings.
His latest recording “Pud Marcum’s Hangin’” includes thirteen of his songs that beckon back to the storytelling that fueled what became country music from Appalachian ballads His songs however carry with them the polish that comes from a lifetime of songwriting.
Among this collection are “Justice for Willy,” “Hello, My Name is Coal,” “Pud Marcum’s Hangin’,” “Uncle Bob Got Religion,” “Angel on His Shoulder,” “Molly,” “Shade Tree Mechanic,” “The Death of Bad Burch Wilson,” “Brown Check,” “Gone on Before,” “Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink,” and “America, Where Have You Gone.”
“There are three or four true stories amongst them,” he said.
The title cut actually reflects upon a story his great grandfather told him about the last hangin’ in Lawrence County, Ky.
“He always said his pappy was at the hangin’,” he said.
He penned the song with Connie Leigh.
“We were lookin’ on the computer and I recalled the story,” he said.
He said while the man that was killed was someone that no one liked the man hung for the killin’ was well liked.
“My great grandpa always told the story in a way that you thought he may not have been guilty,” he said. “They didn’t have any physical evidence.”
Larry said that he sometimes likes to write a song from the point of view of something that cannot speak.
“Hello, My Name Is Coal,” I am really proud of it,” he said. “It’s very true to the region.”
He said that he started the album as a songwriter’s project.
“I had this collection that didn’t quite fit with regular Lonesome Standard Time records,” he said. “It’s not really my band.”
He welcomes guest appearances from Del McCoury, Carl Jackson, Randy Kohrs, Ronnie and Garnet Imes-Bowman, Steve Thomas, Jerry Salley and a long list of super pickers.
One of the more touching songs of the collection combines his writing talents with one of his favorite songwriters – Ronnie Bowman.
“The idea of that song came out of a dream about my mother in 2009,” he said. “I heard laughter in another room. I recall so vividly what her laughter sounded like. I went through this doorway. One of the laughs I could hear was hers.
“She was sitting around a table with 10 or 12 other people,” he said. “I just started crying and she said, “Honey, What is wrong with you?” and I woke up. I tried so hard to go back to sleep to see who the others were. But I couldn’t. One was my mom and one was my wife’s aunt.”
The duo had set a date to write together and Ronnie’s mother had died suddenly just before.
“I told him I got this thing and I don’t know if we can sit here and do this,” he said. “It was really hard to write.
He said completing has brought greater peace.
“It was something that we had to get out of us,” he said. “I think it was God that sent it to us.”
Other songs share topics that resonate with the audience, he said, such as “Brown Check” and “America, Where Have You Gone.”
Whether you order this CD or one of his others, it will definitely entertain you.
For more information or to order visithttp://www.larrycordle.com/.