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An Interview with the legendary Hank Cochran
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

Let the good times roll Ö On any given day it is likely that an artist in one of Nashville's myriad of recording studios will be recording a song that had been written by the legendary Hank Cochran. That has been the case for the past six decades as hundreds have mined the massive Hank Cochran catalogue for award-winning gems such as "I Fall To Pieces," "She's Got You" and "Make The World Go Away," to name just a few.

Ch.L.: Hank, you are a well-respected person in Nashville. How do you feel about being a living legend?

Hank: I donít really feel like a living legend, but I do feel really good about being alive and about the fact that I still enjoy my career.

Ch.L.: You have had countless hit songs throughout the years and you are still writing songs which are cut on albums by stars George Strait, George Jones, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and many more. Where do you get the inspiration for so many songs?

Hank: My inspiration comes from life and from talking and listening to people. I canít just sit behind a desk and write a song; the spark has to come from somewhere and I believe that it is a gift from God.

Ch.L.: Hank, at the time you write a song, do you already know if it will be a hit or not?

Hank: When I write something that affects me and that I am really moved by, then I believe it is a hit - but no one knows for sure about anything. Sometimes it takes a long time to find somebody that is interested in a song and wants to record it, but when I am convinced a song is a hit, I donít give up Ė I just try again and again to get it cut. I have written songs that did not get recorded until years later and then they turned out to become Number One hits.

Ch.L.: What was it like to work with major artists as a young songwriter?

Hank: ScaryÖ When I first came here I was 24 years old and it looked like everybody else around here was 40 and I was afraid of what these 'older' people would think about me. At that time I was an unknown and the people I was working with were my idols. Later on, those artists became friends of mine and now Iím 69 years old and still working at it, so over the years things have kind of turned around. I am thankful that it did and I enjoy the friendships I have with the people that are still alive, like Ray Price. He called me last week and wants me to do the title song of his new album.

Ch.L.: Do you already know any details about your new project for Ray Price?

Hank: No, not yet. All I know at the moment is the title, but the rest is still only in my head and we (Ray, Red and I), still have to sit down together and work on it.

Ch.L.: Hank, most other people your age would say 'Thank you friends, but it is time to relax now'. You still find the energy to start new projects. Can you tell us something about them?

Hank: I am working together with a new artist called Rick Sousley. He just cracked the Texas Charts with my song 'Patsy Proof.í I really like his voice - to me he sounds like a younger George Strait. I also contributed several songs to my good friend, John Cody Carterís new album, and weíll be working together on his next single. Those are only the new artists who I am working with right now, but I also contribute material for other artists, some of whom Iíve known for many years, like Mark Chesnutt, Reba McEntire for example.

Ch.L.: You wrote the song "Oh, What A Love" for Tanya Tucker. Can you tell us something about it?

Hank: I wish I could, but that song was written years ago and I donít really remember the details anymore. Sometimes, itís hard to remember the specifics of an individual song Ė Iíve written so many during my lifetime. But, I am convinced that every time one of my songs turns out to be a hit, it was a gift of God.

Ch.L.: LeeAnn Womack is one of your biggest fans. She recorded your song "He'll Be Back" - do you know why she chose that song?

Hank: She recorded that song because she liked it and was convinced of it. She did record some other songs that were different from the way people heard her, direction-wise. With that album she did something completely different from what people were expecting of her and were used to hearing. Audiences didnít follow her into that new direction and therefore the album was not a huge commercial success.

Ch.L.: Hank which one of all the songs you have written is your personal favorite?

Hank: "Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me" is my favorite song. It is so close to me and I lived every bit of that song. Itís my best-written song, certainly. Sometimes I look at it and I still cannot believe that my name is on there by itself.

Ch.L.: Hank another great song that you have written is "Make The World Go Away." What is the story behind that song?

Hank: The idea for the song came to me when I was at the movies with my girlfriend. Somebody on the screen had said something that had triggered that title in me. I left in the middle of the movie, because I wanted to note down my idea right away. I was very happy and exited about the song once I had finished it and could hardly wait until the next morning until I could play it to the owner of the label. Once he had heard it, he just looked at me and said that he felt this was the worst song I had ever written. Of course that judgment hurt me, because I thought it was one of the best songs I had ever written. Later on, when the song was finally recorded and released, I was proved right.

Ch.L.: Your personal favorite is the album LIVING FOR A SONG. Why that album?

Hank: LIVING FOR A SONG practically describes my life. I did include Honky-tonk banjo tunes on it, some trumpet and all the other instruments. The songs on the album are my favorite ones of all the ones I have written - some written with colleagues - and they are songs that really mean something to me.

Ch.L.: If you had to pick out one of these 14 songs which one is the dearest one to you?

Hank: "You Wouldn't Know Love." I wrote this song together with Dave Kirby, who I helped bring to town and introduced into the business. But then I would need to mention "You Let Me Down" as well. The song is one of my favorites because it actually happened to me. Craig Dillingham included that song on his new album as well and it is doing really well on the Texas Charts.

Ch.L.: Today many European fans buy their music via the internet on sites like Amazon.com. Is your album available there as well?

Hank: I have to admit that I donít know. After the album was released I was already so busy with my new project that I didnít check on it. My passion is writing songs and I do not spend much time worrying about anything else.

Ch.L.: Hank, we are currently sitting on your boat. How did you find this boat?

Hank: Harold, the captain, is a good friend of mine. I met him on another boat in California about 20 years ago. At that time Harold worked for John Wayne. When John got sick, I hired Harold. He told me that he could only stay for three months, until I had gotten used to the boat, but in the end, he stayed with me for four years and we have been friends since then. He came down here to spend a couple of weeks with me and we went to Gulf Shores and to New Orleans, because he wanted to look at a boat that a friend of his had redone to its original state. So we went with no intention of buying a boat, but when I saw it, I just bought it. Naturally he had to come back with me and work for me until I got used to the boat.

Ch.L.: Hank, everybody knows that you are one of the best songwriters of the last century. Tell us about the artist Hank Cochran.

Hank: The artist ĎHankí is also a writer - I just like to record in order to get my songs heard. For me the stage is a bit scary, but it is another avenue to get my songs heard by an audience. My publicist, Martha Moore, was with me when I was introduced to the Mississippi Hall of Fame and I was just a nervous wreck going out there in front of all these people. Thatís one of the reasons why Eddie Cochran and I split up. Early in my career, Eddie Cochran and I worked together as 'The Cochran Brothers' and we played a lot of Rockabilly music. We were doing well, until one day I just said ĎI canít do this any more. I cannot stand in front of these people, play Rock Ďn Roll and watch the people go crazy all around me.í Thatís when I went to Nashville to concentrate more on songwriting and Eddie went to England. Later on, Eddie became a big star there.

Ch.L.: Hank, what advice would you give someone who wants to become a songwriter?

Hank: First, if you are sincere and serious about it, you have to understand that it has to mean everything to you. You will feel that at times you have to give up everything else and concentrate on being a songwriter. You have to be really dedicated. That is the experience I have had in my career and other songwriters around me who needed that same dedication in order to be successful. Second, if a person tells you that a song it not good, but you are convinced about it, you cannot let that bother you. You just have to go somewhere else with it.

Ch.L.: Is there something that the world should know about you that has not been said before?

Hank: I donít think so. Iím really like an open book. I donít hide anything from anyone, and when people listen to my songs, they will know who I am.

Ch.L.: Hank, it has been a pleasure talking to you, thank you for spending your time with us today.

Christian Lamitschka ( Christian@CountryStarsOnline.com )

 

     

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