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Hank Cochran, who began his performing career as part of the popular 1950's duo, 'The Cochran Brothers' (Eddy Cochran was the other, but they weren't actually real brothers) wrote his first song at the age of 13. Over the years since then, he has had his songs recorded by an impressive list of artists that includes; Patsy Cline (the success of "I Fall To Pieces" a co-write with Harlan Howard, enabled him to become a full time songwriter in 1961) Ray Price, Lynn Anderson, Eddy Arnold ("Make The World Go Away"), Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Don Gibson, Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton, Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Junior Brown, Ty Herndon, Tracy Byrd, LeAnn Rimes, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait ("The Chair," a co-write with Dean Dillon, is still one of my all-time favourites) Daryle Singletary & Wade Hayes among many others in other genre's of music and he has consistently held top charting positions for the last 5 decades. He was inducted into the Country Music Foundation's Walkway of Stars in 1967 and the Nashville Songwriters' Association International Hall of Fame in 1974.
"Livin' For A Song" is Hank's first release since his Number One Americana CD "Desperate Men: The Legend & The Outlaw" was issued in late 1996. His last Country CD, "Make The World Go Away" on Electra Records, dates back to the early '80s.
Of the title track he said, "All I did was write my biography, it wasn't always easy and at first there were parts of it I didn't like, but now I do. And I'd do it all over again." Co-written with Bo Roberts and David Holster, "Livin' For A Song," is a tribute to the sometimes hard-knocks and soul-searching lifestyle that songwriters must sometimes endure. This is a songwriter's song, sung by a master of the craft
Of the 14 tracks on the album, 10 are penned or co-penned by Hank with the other 4 tracks coming from 'foreign' writers. Best of the latter is undoubtedly, the wonderful, partly spoken, "When Cotton Was King" a nostalgic look back at how things used to be. Written by Andy Wrenn, the song also benefits from the added vocals of Clinton Gregory on the chorus.
You wouldn't expect a bad song from this songwriting master, and you don't get one. Every one of the 10 Hank Cochran penned songs on here are expertly crafted. From telling his life story in the title track, to a story of losing out to someone else in love with, "He Little Thinged Her." There's heartbreakers in "You Wouldn't Know Love" a wonderful song penned with Dave Kirby, the similarly themed "I Fell Apart," and "Something Unseen" a song that as I write, is climbing back into the top 10 of the EMS European charts after recently making it's way down (and must surely be in with a chance of gaining the record for the longest stay on the chart) while the spiritual and moving, "The Pen" another recitation, is guaranteed to raise a hair or two on the back of the neck!
Not all the songs on here are downbeat though, as Hank does a lively cover of "Honky Tonk Angels" and goes into western/swing mode for "Magic In The Band" a good, catchy toe tapper, co-written by Hank with Craig Dillingham.
Whenever you talk of top Nashville songwriters, the first two names that come to mind are Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard. They are and (sadly, in the case of Harlan), were the songwriter's songwriter. The one's that other writers look up to. I am sure there is many a songwriter out there who would love just a little bit of that Hank/Harlan magic in their songs. Produced by Hank along with Jim Vest, "Livin' For A Song" is an excellent album, and an essential part of any country music fans collection. It certainly is in mine!