When word got out that acclaimed Nashville artist Jamey Johnson was recording a tribute album to beloved songwriter Hank Cochran, musical superstars clamored to participate.
"When we were talking about who to call, people just kind of presented themselves," Jamey says. "I think the word got out after awhile, and we were getting phone calls from people wanting to do it. There werent a whole lot of arms that needed twisting."
The resulting cast, plus the brilliant and timeless Cochran songs, make this recording one of the musical events of the year. From the ranks of the Country Music Hall of Fame came George Strait, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price and Vince Gill, not to mention Cochrans oldest and truest friend, Willie Nelson. Veteran stars Leon Russell, Elvis Costello, Bobby Bare and Asleep at the Wheel perform on the album alongside contemporary artists such as Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack and Ronnie Dunn.
"Everybody got to pick their own songs, so for me, it was just as much a journey as it was for anybody else involved," Jamey reports. "I thought Id heard all of Hanks songs, and I hadnt heard anything."
Jamey is quick to praise the efforts of co-producer Buddy Cannon, who worked with co-producer Dale Dodson to recruit artists and explore Cochrans vast catalog. "By the time Buddy was done with it, it was the easiest thing in the world. I cant give him enough credit."
Jamey grew up singing gospel harmonies in church and believes this is why he was able to sing so capably with so many different stylists on the album, as well as in Cannons various musical settings. Jamey performs Cochrans Keith Whitley hit "Would These Arms Be in Your Way" as his only solo on the tribute album.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Hank Cochran died in 2010, but he left behind a song catalog that the world reveres. Masterpieces such as "Make the World Go Away," "I Fall to Pieces" and "Dont You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" merely scratch the surface of his genius that produced hits on the country charts for more than four decades.
Cochran was also widely loved for his generosity of spirit, charming personality, easy-going humor and boundless kindness. During the final years of his life, he became a mentor to Jamey.