I have always been amazed by songwriters. The ability to inspire, move or entertain you in a three minute story is an incredible feat. John D. Loudermilk was certainly one of the best at the craft. Whether it was rock, pop, country or somewhere in between, he wrote songs that touched the lives of so many and will continue to do so for years to come. He had his songs recorded by legendary artists such as George Jones, Anne Murray, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Jay Z, and Roy Orbison, just to name a few.
His talent is showcased on the new album “A Tribute to John D. Loudermilk,” which is available today, September 15th and features Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and renowned guitarists Tommy Emmanuel and John Jorgenson. The album was recorded live March 24, 2016 during a concert at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. Although ailing at the time, John D. was on hand to witness this outpouring of love and respect. Sadly, he passed September 21, 2016 at the age of 82.
As a child of 80’s and 90’s country music, I didn’t recognize all of the album’s 24 songs, but enjoyed discovering those I didn’t know and taking a trip down memory lane with the ones I did. A track I immediately recognized as an old friend was “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.” It’s done exceptionally well on the album by Rosanne Cash and I remember Neal McCoy’s 1996 version that was a top 5 country hit. It was also released as a doo-wop song in 1967 by the group The Casinos, and was a number 6 pop hit that year. Eddy Arnold had a number 1 country hit with it in 1968.
Another flashback was the song “Indian Reservation” performed on the album by John McFee. The Raiders had their only chart topping song with it in 1971. I remembered it fondly from 1994 as perhaps the first time a song was ‘sampled.’ Tim McGraw’s first Top 40 country hit, “Indian Outlaw” contained a sampling of the song.
Maybe it’s not just the fact that I listen mainly to country music that I don’t know most of the songs, but that a lot of them were before my time. It was great to discover some great new music. Cory Chisel and Adriel Danae’s performance of “Ebony Eyes” was a stand-out song to me which was originally recorded in 1961 by The Everly Brothers.
Another discovery that I really enjoyed was Deborah Allen’s version of “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry).” It was originally a 1961 pop song by the American singer Sue Thompson. Songs like “I Want To Live,” “Tobacco Road,” “Waterloo,” “Abilene,” and “Mr. Jones,” run the gamut of genres, styles and eras of music.
That is the beauty of this album – the fact that genre, era and style of music is not always what’s important. Great lyrics speak to everyone and are timeless. Whether you are old, young or a fan of country or pop, there is something for you on this album. It is a great testament to the ability John D. Loudermilk had to write lyrics that can live on and continue to be interpreted beautifully by various artists who clearly have great love and respect for Loudermilk’s vast catalog of songs. Whether you’ve heard of John D. or not, I encourage you to get a copy and listen to this album.
All artist royalty proceeds will be donated to MusiCares, which was established by the Recording Academy to safeguard the health and well being of all music people. A film of the concert will be released as a PBS special.