‘The country’s greatest songwriters’ come to Wantagh
The traditional country music image is of a singer-songwriter strumming his guitar and singing songs about his own life and experiences. There’s a lot of truth to this image, as country legends like Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson have made a name for themselves singing their own songs.
But they often sang songs by other, equally brilliant (though less well-known) writers, the likes of Elsie McWilliams, Fred Rose, Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Shel Silverstein. They were the artists behind the artists, but their stories were rarely told.
Now Tennessee Walt tells these stories in Tennessee Walt’s Three Chords and the Truth: The Nation’s Greatest Songwriters, a brand new show that looks at the people who wrote – but didn’t sing – some of the country’s greatest songs, appearing at Wantagh Public Library on Saturday June 11.
The artists who are featured in the new show are not household names. They are people like Elsie McWilliams, Fred Rose, Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Shel Silverstein. Cochran, Howard, Rose and Walker are all in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and McWilliams and Silverstein should be, but even many die-hard country fans have no idea who they were.
“You may not know their names,” Wren said, “but you know their songs: ‘Hobo Bill’s Last Ride,’ ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,’ ‘You Don’t Know Me,’ ‘Heartaches by the Number,” “Make the World Go Away,” and “A Boy Named Sue” were all written by these men and women.
“People like Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson were brilliant songwriters,” he continued, “but they were also great judges of songwriting, and they knew a song would be great for them when they heard it. Williams’ “Lost Highway”, Lynn’s “One’s on the Way” and Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” were all written by other people, and they deserve some of the credit so that these songs have become classics.
“This show is a chance for the people behind the songs to spend their day in the sun.”
Three agreements and the truth (the title is taken from Harlan Howard’s famous definition of a country song) is Tennessee Walt’s fifth show, following on the heels of The Other Great American Songbook, Bristol & Beyond: The Birth of Country Music, Hanks a Lot!, Riding with the Outlaws and An afternoon in the countryside. These shows were enthusiastically received at dozens of venues in the greater New York area, as well as Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas.
Tennessee Walt’s Three Chords and the Truth: The Nation’s Greatest Songwriters will be presented on Saturday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at the Wantagh Public Library, 3285 Park Avenue in Wantagh. Free entry. For more information, call (516) 221-1200 or visit www.wantaghlibrary.org.