September 15

Remembering Rodney Crowell, His Above’s & Beyond’s in Country Scene

A Look-Back

28 years ago this month, on September 23, 1989, Rodney Crowell scored his fifth and final number one song with an old Harlan Howard evergreen, “Above And Beyond.” Buck Owens had recorded the original version in 1960 (which went to #3), and it was one of the first songs Rodney had learned to sing as a child. When Crowell landed at the top with his version of “Above And Beyond,” he made history by becoming the only artist to reach #1 with five songs from the same album, a mark that still stands today.

The Artist

Now, let’s take a look at how he came about as a country music artist. Rodney Crowell is an American musician, known primarily for his work as a singer and songwriter in country music. He had come from a musical family, with one grandfather being a church choir leader and the other a bluegrass banjo player. His grandmother played guitar and his father sang semi-professionally at bars and honky tonks. At age 11, he started playing drums in his father’s band. In his teen years, he played in various garage rock bands in Houston, performing hits of the day mixed with a few country numbers.

When he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in search of a musical career he got a job as a songwriter after being discovered by Jerry Reed. Later he also met Guy Clark who became a major influence in his songwriting. Emmylou Harris had recorded one of Crowell’s songs, “Bluebird Wine.”

He also formed a musical group, The Cherry Bombs, that signed him a  solo deal Warner Bros. Records and in late 1978, released his debut album, Ain’t Living Long Like This. Up until 1986, he just wrote songs and made several country hits by artists like Waylon Jennings, Oak Ridge Boys, and several covers by Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Jerry Reed and others.

Though best known as a songwriter and alternative country artist, Crowell enjoyed mainstream popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Crowell continued to enjoy success as a songwriter in the 1990s and 2000s. Crowell’s songs that reached to Top Ten on the country charts in the decade included “Song for the Life” by Alan Jackson, “Making Memories of Us” by Keith Urban, “Ashes By Now” by Lee Ann Womack, and “Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw. Rodney Crowell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 with fellow inductees Hal Blair, Paul Overstreet, and John Prine.  In 2007, Rodney Crowell was inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame. Until today, Crowell continues to provide background vocals, write songs and music videos as well.

His Life

In terms of his personal life, he was married to Rosanne Cash (daughter of Johnny Cash) from 1979 to 1992 and they had an influence on each other’s careers. Although Crowell and Cash are now divorced, they remain on friendly terms, performing together occasionally. Crowell and Cash have three daughters, Caitlin, Chelsea, and Carrie, and together raised Hannah, Rodney’s daughter from a previous marriage. He married Claudia Church in 1998 and they share a home south of Nashville with their dog, Mono.

All-in-all, Crowell has had five number one singles on Hot Country Songs, all from his 1988 album Diamonds & Dirt. He has also written songs and produced for other artists.

He was influenced by songwriters Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Crowell played guitar and sang for three years in Emmylou Harris’ “Hot Band”.

He has won two Grammy Awards in his career, one in 1990 for Best Country Song for the song “After All This Time” and one in 2014 Best Americana Album for his album “Old Yellow Moon”.

How interesting it is to get to know multi-talented people like Rodney Crowell. We all hope that he will continue to make great songs that will continue to leave a mark in our hearts.


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