March 20

Why “Ain’t Living Long Like This” Was a Top-Notch Album

The year 1978 marks the journey toward establishing a solid songwriting career for country artist Rodney Crowell. This year, he signed with Warner Brothers and released his debut album, Ain’t Living Long Like This. Subsequently, three singles from the album began to sell over one million copies. Thanks to other country music artists who recorded these songs and made them reach commercial success.

Last year, Crowell celebrated the 40th year of the album’s release. The Houston-born songwriter then shared some humble words about the success he’s reached in the field of writing music.

“My reputation as a songwriter is what got me there,” said Crowell.  “I got a record deal because people were recording my songs early and covering them. Thank heavens, they kept me in business. I bow in earnest to those who kept me in business. I think that Warner Bros. signed me to a recording contract [thinking], ‘This guy’s producing material that’s making it to the top. He’s bound to hit sooner or later.”

living long, Ain't Living Long Like This, Rodney Crowell, Top-Notch Album
Photo credit: Rodney Crowell/Official Facebook Page

Ain’t Living Long Like This: Album Content

The eight-track album includes three covers, namely “Elvira” (Dallas Frazier), “(Now and Then, There’s) A Fool Such as I” (Eddy Arnold), and “I thought I Heard You Calling My Name” (Norma Jean). All three singles missed the chart’s Top 40 while the album failed to score a spot on the Top Country Albums chart. Despite such, the record has been considered his best and most influential album.

Several music critics reviewed the album favorably. Allmusic’s Brett Hartenbach shared his positive comment on the album saying that:

“it did not only showcase Crowell’s songwriting prowess, but also his ability to deliver a song, whether it’s one of his own or the work of another.”

Without a doubt, Ain’t Living Long Like This has provided the blueprint of Crowell’s journey to becoming one of the godfathers of the Americana music movement of today.

living long, Ain't Living Long This, Rodney Crowell, Top-Notch Album
Photo credit: Rodney Crowell/Official Facebook Page

“I Ain’t Living Long Like This” Single

The title track of the album was a successful hit when Waylon Jennings covered it in 1979. His version appeared on the album What Comes Around Goes Around. It earned the outlaw country singer his eleventh No. 1 record on the country chart. A year earlier, another country legend Emmylou Harris recorded the song for her 1978 album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town. I Ain’t Living Long Like This” went on to be covered countless times by many other artists.

Watch Jennings’ live performance of the song below.


rodney crowell

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