Bluesville at Horseshoe Tunica
When word got out that acclaimed Nashville artist Jamey Johnson was recording a tribute album to beloved songwriter Hank Cochran, musical superstars clamored to participate. “When we were talking about who to call, people just kind of presented themselves,” Johnson says. “I think the word got out after awhile, and we were getting phone calls from people wanting to do it. There weren’t a whole lot of arms that needed twisting.”
The resulting cast, plus the brilliant and timeless Cochran songs, make this recording one of the musical events of the year. From the ranks of the Country Music Hall of Fame came George Strait, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price and Vince Gill, not to mention Cochran’s oldest and truest friend, Willie Nelson. Veteran stars Leon Russell, Elvis Costello, Bobby Bare and Asleep at the Wheel perform on the album alongside contemporary artists such as Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack and Ronnie Dunn. “Everybody got to pick their own songs, so for me, it was just as much a journey as it was for anybody else involved,” Johnson reports. “I thought I’d heard all of Hank’s songs, and I hadn’t heard anything.”
Johnson is quick to praise the efforts of co-producer Buddy Cannon, who worked with co-producer Dale Dodson to recruit artists and explore Cochran’s vast catalog. “By the time Buddy was done with it, it was the easiest thing in the world. I can’t give him enough credit.”
Johnson grew up singing gospel harmonies in church and believes this is why he was able to sing so capably with so many different stylists on the album, as well as in Cannon’s various musical settings. Johnson performs Cochran’s Keith Whitley hit “Would These Arms Be in Your Way” as his only solo on the tribute album.
“Hank’s songs bring out the best in anybody,” Johnson observes. “You don’t go on auto pilot and skip over the words. He’s going to make you focus in on a song. That’s the beauty of a skilled songwriter. A good song just inspires you. It makes you want to do better. The songwriter puts the spirit in it. That’s why everybody had the desire to make something great. It doesn’t make the Hall of Fame worthless that Hank Cochran is not in there, but it certainly makes it worth less that he’s not in there. It’s a matter of just recognizing good country music.” Suzi Cochran pays perhaps the highest compliment this album could receive. “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.”
Awards & Accolades
2007 Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year ("Give It Away"), 2007 Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year ("Give It Away"), 2009 Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year ("In Color"), and 2009 Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year ("In Color").
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