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September 12

Meet Cowboy Jack Clement: Song Lyricist behind Johnny Cash’s Hits

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Behind every great singer is an imaginative and creative songwriter.

Meet Cowboy Jack Clement: Song Lyricist behind Johnny Cash’s Hits 1
If you have not heard of him yet, let me introduce to you, Mr. Jack Clement. He has written songs for Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins, Bobby Bare, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cliff Richard (“It’ll Be Me”), Charley Pride, Tom Jones, Dickey Lee and Hank Snow.

A quick search online and you will see that apparently, his biographers and certain historians would attest how he had contributed enormously to the country music world. Besides being a song lyricist, he was, himself a recording artist, a producer, and a discovery of future iconic stars like Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and of course, Johnny Cash.

Our Man, Jack Clement

But one thing that distinguishes Clement as a songwriter was his non-conformist and whimsical mind in whipping a song. And what was the product? Oh, nothing huge! It was just Johnny Cash’s multi-million selling album, “Everybody Loves a Nut” with iconic songs like “Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, The One on the Right Is on the Left, and Everybody Loves a Nut.” And who could forget “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart?” His humorous touch on these songs was drawn from his years as a comic artist.

Knowing this quirky side of Clement, Johnny Cash sought him to produce “Ring of Fire” with Cash’s idea of including mariachi horns. Fortunately, Clement did not disappoint him.

Now for a more serious note, we got “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” which was No. 1 for 10 weeks in 1957, and “Guess Things Happen That Way” which was No. 1 country for eight weeks and No. 11 pop in 1958. All these, were again, hit songs by Cash.

“Jack was a musical mastermind, in a sense. But what made him stand out to people was, he had this sense of fun and a little bit of mischief in everything he did.”
(by  Michael McCall, historian for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum )


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