Rodney Crowell is a Grammy-winning country music singer, songwriter, and musician known for his innovative blend of traditional country and rock music.
Born on August 7, 1950, in Houston, Texas, Crowell grew up in a musical family and was influenced by a range of genres, including country, rock, and blues.
Throughout his career, he has collaborated with some of the biggest names in country music and has written hit songs for artists such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and Keith Urban.
Crowell’s journey into music began when he was just a young boy, and he learned to play the guitar from his father.
As he grew older, he became increasingly interested in songwriting and began performing in local bands.
After honing his skills and developing a unique sound, he caught the attention of Emmylou Harris, who invited him to join her backing band, the Hot Band.
This experience helped launch Crowell’s career as a solo artist, and he went on to release his debut album, ‘Ain’t Living Long Like This,’ in 1978.
Since then, he has continued to produce critically acclaimed albums and has cemented his place as one of the most influential figures in country music.
- Rodney Crowell is a Grammy-winning country music singer, songwriter, and musician from Houston, Texas.
- He learned to play guitar from his father and began performing in local bands as a teenager, eventually joining Emmylou Harris’s backing band, the Hot Band.
- Crowell has collaborated with some of the biggest names in country music and written hit songs for artists such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and Keith Urban.
- He has earned multiple Grammy Awards and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and continues to make a significant impact on country music.
Early Life and Musical Influences
Rodney Crowell’s formative years were marked by a diverse range of musical influences, including traditional country, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues, which would later shape his unique sound and style as a musician.
Born on August 7, 1950, in Crosby, Texas, Crowell grew up in a musical family where his father played guitar and his mother sang in the church choir. Crowell’s early exposure to country music came from his father’s record collection, which included the likes of Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell.
As a teenager, Crowell discovered rock ‘n’ roll, and in particular, the music of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. He also began to explore the blues, listening to the music of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King.
Crowell’s eclectic musical tastes were further broadened when he moved to Houston in the late 1960s and began to frequent the city’s vibrant music scene, where he was exposed to a variety of musical genres, including soul, jazz, and folk.
These early influences would prove to be instrumental in shaping Crowell’s unique sound, which blended elements of traditional country with rock ‘n’ roll and blues.
Learning to Play Guitar and Write Songs
Developing proficiency in playing the guitar and composing songs is a crucial step in the journey of becoming a successful musician.
Rodney Crowell started playing the guitar at the age of eleven, and he quickly became fascinated with the instrument. He was influenced by various musical genres, including rock and roll, country, and blues.
He took guitar lessons from local musicians and learned by listening to records. Crowell’s parents encouraged him to pursue his musical interests, and he began performing in local clubs and bars.
During his teenage years, Crowell started writing his own songs. He was inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan and other folk musicians.
He started to develop his own style and voice as a songwriter, and his songs explored various themes, including love, loss, and social issues.
Crowell continued to refine his guitar playing and songwriting skills, and he eventually caught the attention of the music industry. His talent and dedication to his craft helped him establish himself as one of the most influential and successful singer-songwriters of his generation.
Joining Emmylou Harris’s Backing Band
At a pivotal point in his career, a young musician joined Emmylou Harris’s backing band, which would prove to be a significant turning point in his journey towards becoming a successful musician.
Rodney Crowell, having honed his craft through years of writing songs and playing guitar, was invited to join Harris’s Hot Band in 1975. This was a great opportunity for him to work alongside some of the most talented musicians in the industry, including James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, and Emory Gordy Jr.
Being part of Harris’s Hot Band allowed Crowell to showcase his skills as a songwriter and musician on a much larger stage. He contributed several songs to Harris’s albums, including ‘Till I Gain Control Again,’which became a hit for both Harris and Crowell.
Crowell also played guitar and sang backup vocals on Harris’s recordings and toured with her for several years. This experience helped Crowell establish himself as a respected songwriter and performer, and he went on to achieve great success as a solo artist in the following years.
Debut Solo Album: ‘Ain’t Living Long Like This’
The debut solo album of the musician, titled ‘Ain’t Living Long Like This’, marked a significant milestone in his career and showcased his talent as a songwriter and performer. Released in 1978, the album featured ten tracks, including the title track, which became Crowell’s first hit single.
The album was produced by legendary producer Brian Ahern and featured guest appearances by Emmylou Harris and other notable musicians. The album received critical acclaim and established Crowell as a prominent figure in the country music scene.
His songwriting skills were particularly praised, with many critics noting the clever wordplay and vivid storytelling in songs like ‘Voila, An American Dream’and ‘Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight.’ The success of the album set the stage for Crowell’s future solo releases, and cemented his reputation as a talented singer-songwriter.
Songwriting Success for Other Artists
One notable aspect of Rodney Crowell’s career is his success as a songwriter for other artists. His songwriting abilities have been widely recognized, with his work being recorded by numerous notable performers in the country and rock genres. Crowell’s songwriting credits include hits for Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and Rosanne Cash, among others.
Crowell’s success as a songwriter can be attributed to his ability to blend different genres and create songs that have a universal appeal. His style of songwriting often combines elements of country, rock, and blues, resulting in songs that are both catchy and timeless. Crowell’s ability to write songs that resonate with listeners has made him one of the most sought-after songwriters in the music industry, with his songs being recorded by artists from different generations and backgrounds.
His songwriting success has also earned him numerous awards and accolades, including multiple Grammy Awards and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Return to Solo Work with ‘Diamonds & Dirt’
Following his success as a songwriter for other notable performers, Rodney Crowell returned to his solo work with the release of ‘Diamonds & Dirt’ in 1988. The album marked a departure from his previous works, as it showcased a more commercially-driven sound that blended country music with pop, rock, and soul.
The record was an instant hit, spawning five chart-topping singles and becoming Crowell’s most successful album to date. Despite the shift towards a more mainstream sound, ‘Diamonds & Dirt’ still retains the lyrical depth and musical craftsmanship that Crowell is known for.
The songs on the album delve into themes of love, loss, and redemption, and are delivered with Crowell’s signature blend of wit and sincerity. The album also features collaborations with several notable artists, including Rosanne Cash and Vince Gill, further cementing Crowell’s status as a prominent figure in the country music scene.
Collaborations with Other Musicians
Collaborating with various musicians, notable artists such as Rosanne Cash and Vince Gill have contributed to the success of Rodney Crowell’s career in the country music scene. One of his most significant collaborations is with Cash, whom he was married to from 1979 to 1992. The two worked on a number of albums together, including ‘Seven Year Ache’and ‘King’s Record Shop,’which both achieved commercial and critical success.
Cash and Crowell’s partnership yielded hit singles such as ‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’and ‘It’s Such a Small World.’Their collaboration also extended beyond music, as they co-wrote Cash’s memoir ‘Composed: A Memoir.’
Another prominent collaboration in Crowell’s career is with Vince Gill, with whom he co-wrote the hit single ‘Oklahoma Borderline.’The two also worked together on Crowell’s album ‘Life Is Messy,’on which Gill played guitar and sang backing vocals. Additionally, Crowell contributed to Gill’s album ‘I Still Believe in You,’co-writing the title track and playing guitar on several songs.
Their collaboration extended beyond music as well, as they co-hosted the CMA Awards together in 1990 and 1991. Overall, Crowell’s collaborations with Cash and Gill have helped to solidify his place in the country music world and showcase his versatility as a songwriter and musician.
Honors and Awards
Throughout his career, Rodney Crowell has been recognized with numerous honors and awards for his contributions to the country music scene. These accolades span across various categories, including songwriting, performing, and producing.
Here are some of the most notable honors and awards that Rodney Crowell has received:
Grammy Awards: Crowell has won two Grammy Awards, both for Best Country Song. The first award was in 1989 for ‘After All This Time,’and the second was in 2014 for ‘I’m a Mess.’
Americana Music Honors & Awards: Crowell has been honored with multiple Americana Music Awards, including Album of the Year for ‘The Houston Kid’in 2001, and Song of the Year for ‘It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long’in 2010.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame: In 2003, Crowell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which recognizes songwriters who have made significant contributions to the industry.
These honors and awards are a testament to Rodney Crowell’s immense talent and impact on the country music industry. Despite his many achievements, he remains humble and continues to create music that resonates with audiences around the world.
Legacy and Influence on Country Music
Rodney Crowell’s lasting impact on country music can be seen through the numerous artists he has influenced, including Emmylou Harris, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill. Crowell’s songwriting style, which blends traditional country with rock and roll, has been emulated by a generation of country musicians. His lyrics often tackle heavy themes such as love, loss, and addiction, while also incorporating elements of personal introspection. His influence on the genre has been widely recognized, with many citing him as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.
Crowell’s legacy extends beyond his music, as he has also been a mentor and collaborator to many artists in the industry. He has produced albums for acts such as Rosanne Cash and John Prine, and has also been a frequent collaborator with Emmylou Harris. His contributions to the genre have been recognized with induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Despite his success and influence, Crowell remains humble about his impact on the genre, emphasizing the importance of having a strong work ethic and a commitment to the craft of songwriting.
Recent Projects and Future Plans
Recently, Crowell has released several albums showcasing his continued dedication to the craft of songwriting and his ability to blend traditional country with modern elements. He has also collaborated with various artists such as Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, and John Paul White. These recent projects have solidified his position as a celebrated songwriter and musician in the country music scene.
Looking towards the future, Crowell has expressed his desire to continue creating music and exploring new sounds. He has stated that he wants to keep evolving as an artist and take risks, while still staying true to his roots. With his immense talent and decades of experience in the industry, it is clear that Rodney Crowell will continue to make a significant impact on country music for years to come.