November 21

Rodney Crowell and One of His Best, “After All This Time”

This 1989 hit was sung and written by Rodney Crowell. So, if familiarity breeds contempt, then Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell had a prepared explanation for their stormy marriage that ended in 1992. Despite their efforts to maintain a certain distance between their separate solo careers, their relationship intertwined in numerous ways. They wrote a number of songs together, recorded a No. 1 duet. “It’s Such A Small World” in 1988. Both also provided a sounding board for each other. Rodney produced most of Rosanne’s fifteen Top-Ten hits which also include eleven number ones. Each has written songs about the other, like Cash’s “Seven Year Ache” and the subject of today’s backstory, Crowell’s “After All This Time.”

Crowell started writing what became “After All This Time” in 1978, just prior to his and Rosanne’s marriage the following year. He was working a lot with Willie Nelson in those days and wrote the first two verses with Willie’s unique singing style in mind. Rodney had written the lyrics down in a notebook, but after he and Rosanne moved in together, the notebook disappeared. Crowell didn’t see it again until he was in the process of establishing his new office in Nashville in the mid-1980s. He was unpacking some boxes that had been shipped from Los Angeles during the move and found the notebook containing the uncompleted lyrics to the still-untitled song. To Crowell, it seemed as if only five minutes had passed since he last worked on it, and he finished the song right then and there, changing the story line’s slant to fit his and Rosanne’s rocky relationship. With seven years elapsing from the song’s start to finish, Rodney called it “After All This Time,” then waited several more years before recording it as one of the three ballads on the history-making “Diamonds And Dirt” album, which Crowell co-produced with Tony Brown.

Brown thought “After All This Time” was one of Rodney’s best-written pieces, but it didn’t have any of the signs of what radio hits are usually made of. The finished product ran over four minutes long and it was very slow in tempo, but the song had some neat hooks in it, which worked to its advantage. In the end, the advantages outweighed the drawbacks, because “After All This Time” sailed to #1 on Billboard’s country singles chart on May 27, 1989.

It was a history-making event because it marked the first time ever that one person wrote, produced and performed four #1 country singles from the same album.

One more chart-topper came from the “Diamonds And Dirt” package, but Crowell had not written it. In addition, “After All This Time” picked up a Grammy for “Best Country Song of 1989” and it was nominated for 1989’s “Song of the Year” award from the Country Music Association.


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