Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Writer's Block, Part 1 - Harlan Howard

Harlan (on the left) taking it all in.

Who's the greatest country songwriter of all time?

That's an easy one. The answer is Hank Williams. (What did you expect me to say?) Other greats include Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Fred Rose, and—of course—the legendary Harlan Howard of Detroit, Michigan. (If I'm forgetting anybody, please remind me in the comments).

Howard epitomized the classic country songwriter. His personal style went a long way towards defining the genre. Interestingly, he suffered a severe case of writer's block in the 1970's. But by then his legacy was intact. Read the AMG bio here.

Check out some of my favorite Harlan Howard compositions:

Gram Parsons - Streets of Baltimore (buy album).

Ray Price - Heartaches By the Number (buy album).

Charlie Walker - Pick Me Up On Your Way Down (buy album).

Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces (buy album).

k.d. lang - I'm Down To My Last Cigarette (buy album).

Ray Charles - Busted (buy album).

Do you have any favorite Harlan Howard songs that I left out?

(A word of warning if you are thinking about buying one of Harlan Howard's own recordings: He was known for his great songwriting, not his vocal delivery.)


brendan said...

Wow, what an amazing set of songs. I had never even heard of HH. Really interesting stuff cooking up here. STWOF is a gem itself.

paul said...

Hey Brendan, Glad you like it. Thanks for the great compliment!