Thursday, July 15, 2010

Farewell to a songwriting legend

No sooner did I learn about the passing of actress Vonetta McGee when Bill Crider—maitre’d to the dead—posted on his blog that country music songwriter legend Hank Cochran has died at the age of 74. I don’t mean to be facetious—but the first thing I said when I learned of this was a line made famous by Robert Hays in the 1980 movie comedy Airplane! (1980): “What a pisser.”

I Fall to Pieces. She’s Got You. Why Can’t He Be You. You’re Stronger Than Me. Make the World Go Away. You Wouldn’t Know Love. I Want to Go With You. A Little Bitty Tear. Funny Way of Laughin’. You Comb Her Hair. Don’t Touch Me. The Chair. Ocean Front Property. It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad). Don’t You Ever Get Tired (of Hurtin’ Me). That’s All That Matters. Miami, My Amy. What Would Your Memories Do. Set ‘Em Up Joe. Is It Raining at Your House. Right in the Wrong Direction. These are just a few of the many country hits—many of them standards—written or co-written by Cochran…who also had a country music career of his own from 1962 to 1980, with hits like I’d Fight the World and A Good Country Song. His high-charting hit was in 1962, when he took another country music standard, Sally Was a Good Old Girl to #20 on the Billboard charts.

Cochran was originally hired as a songwriter by Ray Price for Price’s Pamper Music (Price had big hits with World [before Eddy Arnold], Know Love and Tired) in the 1960s, and on his recommendation the company also agreed to hire a young man from Texas who was just starting out in the business. His name was Willie Nelson.

Hearing about Cochran’s death, I can’t help but think how the title of his mega-popular hit he wrote for Patsy Cline—I Fall to Pieces—describes how I feel at this time. (His first royalty check for that classic was for $11.000—even if that was the only thing Hank ever wrote, he’d still be considered one of the greats.) And now he’s gone…and it hurts just like a country song should. R.I.P, Hank…I feel a little bit better knowing that the jukebox in the Great Beyond is crammed with your songs.
Bookmark and Share


Jeff Overturf said...

"Hurts like a good country song should!" - well said.

Set 'em up Hank. I'll come listen to the juke witcha some time.

Amanda said...


Wings said...

Sad, but he left us with a lot to enjoy!