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Jamey Johnson to Release Hank Cochran Tribute Album

Jamey Johnson photo by Jack Spencer, courtesy of UMG Nashville.

Jamey Johnson has teamed up with some of the biggest names in country music for his new album which doubles as a tribute to legendary singer/songwriter Hank Cochran. Livin’ For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran is set for an October 16 release but will first be available on vinyl beginning September 25.

Hank Cochran passed away in 2010 at the age of 74. Considered one of the greatest songwriters in country music, he helped develop the template for writing the perfect country song. He was known for his ability to capture extreme heartache in powerful yet simple lyrics.

“If I had to dream up somebody like Hank to influence songwriters, I couldn’t have done a better job,” Jamey said. “That’s what he was – not just for me, but for Willie and for a lot of people – just a helpful friend. If he knew you needed help with something, he could help you. He was there. And that’s what I want to be for the people in my life, same as Hank. He influenced me, not only as an artist and songwriter, but also as a person.”

Hank mentored artists including Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. His songwriting credits include the classics “I Fall To Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” “Make the World Go Away,” “The Chair,” “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” and “Ocean Front Property.” On Jamey’s new album, he and Willie Nelson sing “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” and are joined by Leon Russell and Vince Gill on “Everything But You.”

“Well, really, when you start talking about songwriters, you’ve got to say his name first,” Willie Nelson said. “Then you start talking about everybody else. I think everybody would agree that Hank was the best writer up there.”

Jamey, Willie, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson partnered for “Living for a Song” which includes a recording of Hank’s voice. Jamey and Merle also paired up for Hank’s “I Fall to Pieces” which was made famous by Patsy Cline in 1961. “It’s important historically for people to know who Hank Cochran was and what he did,” Merle said. “He always wanted to be the Hemingway of country music and I think he did it.”

There was a lot of anticipation as to how Jamey would follow his critically-acclaimed double album The Guitar Song. He opted to make the daring move of honoring his late friend and traditional country music with a labor of love for his follow up project. Jamey along with Buddy Cannon and Billy Ray Cyrus sat at Hank’s bedside, passing a guitar around and singing Hank’s songs during his final hours. He passed about six hours after they left.

“Shortly after he first met Jamey, Hank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” Hank’s widow, Suzi Cochran, said. “So for the two years he lived after that, Jamey would get off the road and pull his bus right up to the hospital, run up and see Hank and raise Hank’s spirits.  The last time Jamey saw Hank was the night before Hank died.”

Hank’s passing inspired the idea for Jamey’s tribute album. “We all met at the house one day and sang some songs,” he said. “Bobby Bare was introducing me to a bunch of songs that when I thought I heard it all, I hadn’t heard anything yet. All the best stuff was the stuff I didn’t know about yet. An entire list of songs was created, not because I knew these songs existed and wanted to cut them, but because the other person did. Everybody got to pick their own, and so for me, it was just as much of a journey as it was for the band or anybody else involved.”

Jamey and Hank’s relationship was one of mutual admiration. Hank appreciated Jamey’s deep appreciation for traditional country music. Jamey also served as an audience for Hank to share stories with, sharing about his early days in the business with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Harlan Howard and more.

“Hank adored Jamey,” Suzi Cochran said. “Hank loved Jamey. Jamey was a constant in the last chapter of Hank’s life. This is incredible. I wish Hank had been here to see it. He wouldn’t believe it. He would have cried.  He’d be happy. It’s exactly like Hank would have done it.”

Track listing:

  1. “Make the World Go Away” – Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss
  2. “I Fall to Pieces” – Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard
  3. “A Way to Survive” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill and Leon Russell
  4. “Don’t Touch Me” – Jamey Johnson and Emmylou Harris
  5. “You Wouldn’t Know Love” – Jamey Johnson and Ray Price
  6. “I Don’t Do Windows” – Jamey Johnson and Asleep at the Wheel
  7. “She’ll Be Back” – Jamey Johnson and Elvis Costello
  8. “Would These Arms Be in Your Way” – Jamey Johnson
  9. “The Eagle” – Jamey Johnson and George Strait
  10. “A-11” – Jamey Johnson and Ronnie Dunn
  11. “I’d Fight the World” – Jamey Johnson and Bobby Bare
  12. “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me” – Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson
  13. “This Ain’t My First Rodeo” – Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack
  14. “Love Makes a Fool of Us All” – Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson
  15. “Everything But You” – Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell
  16. “Livin’ for a Song” – Jamey Johnson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson

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