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July.05 Cover - Rodney Crowell PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob Townsend   

By 1974, Crowell had landed two of his earliest songs, "Til I Can Gain Control Again" and "Bluebird Wine," on Emmylou Harris' first album. In 1975, he joined Harris' legendary Hot Band. Two years later, Crowell signed a solo recording contract. Since then, his songs have been covered by everyone from Waylon Jennings and Tim McGraw to the Grateful Dead and Andy Williams.

Crowell married Rosanne Cash in 1979. And they had a musically productive, if stormy marriage, as Crowell produced several of Cash's hit songs and albums, including Seven Year Ache. But they divorced in 1992.

From the point of view of the casual observer, 1988 might have been the highpoint of Crowell's career. His album Diamonds and Dirt yielded five straight #1 country singles. But Crowell, who turns 55 next month, wasn't really happy with his work. And after the obligatory break-up album, 1992's Life Is Messy, and two more somewhat less than stellar efforts, he split from the business in 1995, retreating to the life of a single parent.

Crowell returned to recording in 2001 with The Houston Kid, a largely autobiographical album that delved deeply into his rough and tumble Lone Star upbringing and earned him loads of critical praise.

"There are a lot of revelations about childhood and abuse and alcohol and all of that," Crowell says of the Houston Kid. "But that's a memoir from the environment in which I grew up. Some of it is very specific. And some of it is sort of articulating from a collective of kids I grew up with. The Houston Kid is not just me."

In 2003, Crowell continued his reentry with Fate's Right Hand, a chronicle of his recent mid-life struggles that, if anything, was even darker and more intensely personal than The Houston Kid.

"I personally thought that Fate's Right Hand was digging deeper because it was a trip inside," he says. "I was consciously making an effort to articulate my own particular brand of spirituality -- that being the spirituality that comes with my age group. Those changes are physical, they're mental, and they're emotional. They're tough. They're not for sissies."


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