Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rodney Crowell Wants His Music to Be a Work of Art

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rodney Crowell Wants His Music to Be a Work of Art

Article excerpt

At 63, singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell remains focused on creating what he calls museum-quality art. But despite more than 30 years of songwriting and performing accolades, he is loath to proclaim that he's done it.

"I strive. I rarely do it, but I strive for it," says Crowell, who will headline Day 2 of Twangfest on Thursday at Off Broadway.

With his new CD, "Tarpaper Sky," Crowell has done it, producing one of the best albums of his storied career and which recently landed him atop the Americana Music Association chart.

"Tarpaper Sky" contains 11 songs, most of them autobiographical, that were recorded with guitarist Steuart Smith, bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer Eddie Bayers the players behind him on his 1988 breakthrough album, "Diamonds & Dirt." That record produced five No. 1 singles.

Several songs from four earlier albums had been covered and became hits for other people "I Ain't Living Long Like This" for Waylon Jennings among them. He was also playing in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, and she cut several of his songs. So he wasn't starving, and he wasn't a kid when "Diamonds & Dirt" struck gold. But he didn't handle it well when Columbia Records wanted him to duplicate the feat.

"My best work is not designed to do anything other than be the best song that I can write," Crowell says. "Hey, I grew up poor in East Houston you give me some money and I think I owe you something."

"Tarpaper Sky" was recorded live and has an intimate, effortless, front-row, small-club vibe.

"We were all sitting on the front row, for sure," says Crowell, whose previous CD, "Old Yellow Moon" with duet partner Harris, won a Grammy for best Americana album. "We sat up in a circle, drums and electric guitars and all. That's a performed record, it's not a produced record. Everything there is what we played."

Critics used to say about James Garner that he was so relaxed and natural on screen, you'd never catch him acting. …

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