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Jamey Johnson (with dog Hank) is doing a Hank Cochran tribute. Willie Nelson, others contribute.
FILE/Donn Jones/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 10/16/2012
AP Music Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Hank Cochran was one of country music's greatest songwriters. He was also an opportunist, something Jamey Johnson discovered when he met him at a mutual friend's office several years ago.
"Hank was there, and as I was shaking his hand, Hank pulled out a CD of songs that had my name written on it," Johnson said of the late music legend. "So I didn't know I was going to meet Hank, but he sure enough knew he was going to meet me that day. He was a-planning on it, and right off the bat he was pitching me songs, and every time I saw him he was asking me to cut this one or cut that one."
Johnson pays tribute to Cochran with the release this week of "Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran," a deep look at the songwriter's career. Johnson teams up with stars like Willie Nelson, George Strait and Alison Krauss on what is mostly a duets album comprising of Cochran classics such as "Make the World Go Away" and "I Fall to Pieces."
Co-produced by Cochran's friends Buddy Cannon and Dale Dodson, the 16-track album also includes one Johnson solo song, "Would These Arms Be in Your Way."
"He was pretty adamant about wanting me to cut that song," Johnson said. "I hope we did it justice. I regret that Hank never got to hear it, but he did finally quit pitching me that song. He was relentless."
The album cements the friendship of Johnson and Cochran in Nashville lore and represents another creative left turn for the fiercely independent 37-year-old Alabama singer-songwriter. Johnson sang at Cochran's bedside the night he died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at age 74.
A RARE MODERN TRIBUTE
He carried that tribute a step further by making a rare modern example of a country performer saluting a songwriter's body of work. Once a fairly regular staple in Nashville--one of his favorites is Waylon Jennings' tribute to Harlan Howard, "Waylon sings Ol' Harlan"--they've pretty much disappeared.
Johnson could think of no better reason to bring them back.