After more than four decades in music and a vast collection of songs he’s written for himself and artists like Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Keith Urban and many more, Rodney Crowell has decided it’s time. to compile a book presenting some of his work.
“It was about a year ago,” he says, “it occurred to me that I should have a lyrics book. And I did it kind of selfishly, honestly. I put the songs I wanted in mind, not necessarily the most popular or the most recognized because of radio exposure or whatever I went with what I’m proud to have written from my standard as a ‘songwriter.
The end result is a beautifully illustrated coffee table type book containing the lyrics to many of his songs, some of his own writing, as well as the notes he took while writing them.
“Most of the lyrics to my songs from the last few years are on a computer and the ones before were printed in these folded books that I have. But I also still have over 30 notebooks with quite a few pages of scribbles and of first and second drafts.
In the book, he shares the backstory behind some of the songs and much of his early days in music. And there are many, many personal photos.
Multi-GRAMMY artist and songwriter, Crowell has penned 15 No. 1 hits and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. ‘Word for Word’ delves into some of his best-known songs like “I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tryed”, “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”, “Somewhere Tonight”, and others.
He also wrote “Shame on the Moon” recorded by Bob Seger, “Long Hard Road” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Making Memories of Us” by Keith Urban.
The book highlights his many collaborations with artists like Emmylou Harris, Guy Clark, Rosanne Cash and others.
“Emmylou is my sister by another mother,” Crowell says. “We have a brother/sister relationship that dates back to when we were in our twenties. We’re good friends.”
The two met in the 1970s and Harris later hired Crowell as guitarist, harmony singer and arranger for his band.
He wrote and recorded a number of songs with Rosanne Cash, before and after their marriage. The two share four adult daughters and an ongoing connection through music. She wrote a song for the book.
“Something I often say in public about Rosanne is that we had a successful marriage that just ended. We parted very amicably. In fact, I introduced her to her husband and to this day, I’m proud of it. He is a good man. My wife and I were talking the other day and she said, “You know, I love Rosanne. It’s just a very truthful thing.
Crowell also had a close relationship with Rosanne’s father, Johnny Cash.
“I came into his orbit as a young man trying to prove myself and I think he was perplexed in front of me. I wanted to be respected as my own man and sometimes I would do stupid things. He would smile or hand me over to my place, he knew what I was doing, but I think he recognized the level of work I was producing and we had a good friendship.
After more than forty years as a singer-songwriter, Crowell is still working hard to make music. He also shares what he knows. He recently completed his third songwriting camp which brings aspiring songwriters from around the world to Nashville to learn the craft from some of his masters. (He will hold camp again next summer.)
He hopes his book can also inspire those who wish to write songs. He has just launched a book tour that will take him across the country to promote “Mot pour mot”.
He is also working on a new album which should be released next year. At 72, Crowell has no intention of slowing down and may even pick up the pace a bit.
“I work more now than when I was young,” he says. “I jokingly tell my wife that I blundered a lot when I was younger, and I don’t do that anymore. She just laughs. But I’ve reached an age where time is up, and I don’t not much time for fun unless i can reframe it as part of the creative process so i still do it i still do everything maybe less in the public eye but i still do it and i benefit more.