NASH Country Weekly Magazine: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Welcomes Four New Members at 2015 Ceremony

Ceremony brings together the writers of “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Seven Year Ache” and “Always on My Mind.”

L to R: NaSHOF board chair Pat Alger; Inductees Mark James, Rosanne Cash, Even Stevens and Craig Wiseman and NaSHOF Executive Director Mark Ford
photo by Bev Moser/Alliance
Rosanne Cash made an interesting discovery Sunday while preparing to attend the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony. The new inductee and her father, Johnny Cash, are the only father-daughter pair in the Hall of Fame.
“All I have wanted since I started writing songs was to be a member of this Hall of Fame,” said Rosanne, describing herself as a wife, mother and songwriter.
Rosanne, along with songwriters Even Stevens, Craig Wiseman and Mark James, was welcomed into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in Nashville Sunday evening (Oct. 11). The crowd of music industry VIPs was treated to tunes written by each of the new inductees, performed in between entertaining introductions.
Rodney Crowell—who was married to Rosanne from 1979-1992—welcomed his former wife into the Hall, saying he believed some of her best work as a songwriter was ahead of her. Rosanne credited Rodney with encouraging her and giving her confidence “before I was really good.” While looking over the crowd of her peers, she noted, “There is so much history in this room. Every one of the writers in here inspire me to be a better writer.”
Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill performed “I Was Watching You” and “Seven Year Ache,” respectively, before Rosanne was officially welcomed into the Hall of Fame.
Hugh Prestwood called Even Stevens “a Renaissance man,” adding that people have no idea how great a writer he is. In addition to writing such hits as Eddie Rabbitt’s “Drivin’ My Life Away” and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman,” the songwriter was named one of BMI’s writers of the century. Even Stevens and Eddie Rabbitt were a hitmaking team who wrote tunes both for Eddie and folks like Kenny Rogers, who recorded the duo’s “Love Will Turn You Around.”
Stevens said his life took a right turn the day his friend and mentor Jim Malloy entered his life. It took another sharp turn when he offered a ride to author and songwriter Shel Silverstein, who in turn hooked him up with Dr. Hook’s producer, resulting in that act’s hit recording of “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman.”
“I am so thankful to be a songwriter in this town,” Even Stevens said. “I don’t know if it could have happened In any other town.”
Songwriter Bob DiPiero's introduction for inductee Craig Wiseman took the form of a personal roast of his friend and peer. After telling several funny stories, he said of his pal, “Craig has written songs that are game-changers, songs that will be here long after we are gone.”
Craig recalled his early days in Nashville, when he played at a bowling alley north of Nashville. “It has been a long journey," he said. After taking the audience through hilarious stories about his career, Craig told of meeting two young songwriters who showed up for the appointment wearing clothes covered in paint. Within days of that meeting, he signed Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line to his publishing company, Big Loud Shirt.
“I write with the kids who come to town,” Craig said. “I do it because of all the people who helped me early in my career.”
The songwriter asked all his company’s songwriters to stand up, and thanked them for writing with him. “I am the luckiest man alive. I am a songwriter and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.”
Performing Craig’s songs were Ronnie Dunn and Tim McGraw, who sang “I Believe” and “Live Like You Were Dying,” respectively. Pal Jeffrey Steele also did a medley of Craig’s hits.
Mark James was introduced with a story about his first cut, the 1968 B. J. Thomas pop hit “Hooked on a Feeling.” James went on to have cuts by Elvis Presley (“Suspicious Minds”), Willie Nelson (“Always on My Mind”) and numerous others.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International honored several members of the Nashville songwriting community during the event. Rodney Clawson was named Songwriter of the Year and Taylor Swift was named Artist/Songwriter of the Year. Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, was named Song of the Year.

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