The famous songwriter comes to Birchmere with his quintet
Multi-Grammy Award-winning troubadour Rodney Crowell has always enjoyed writing every day. So when the pandemic hit, the 71-year-old country singer-songwriter suddenly found a lot more time to do what he loves, and he put it to good use.
“I have a home studio, so I wrote and recorded about 30 songs, so the pandemic hasn’t spoiled me,” he said. “I’m a weird combination of introvert and extrovert – I love being on stage, but when I’m home working alone, I enjoy it even more.”
Not that he dislikes performing live, but with that comes travel, and he noted that could be a frustrating part of the business.
Still, having not performed live for the better part of two years, Crowell found a little more passion in being back on stage.
Crowell will give audiences a taste of some of the new material he has written when he takes the stage at Birchmere on May 20.
“I have a pretty eclectic quintet, with a jazz bassist, a real Miami percussionist, a classically trained pianist, and a violinist/violinist,” he said. “It’s a good group and they’re very creative. I’ve had a few bands in my day, and this one is one of my favorites.
With his hand-picked band, Crowell has reinvented songs he wrote 35-40 years ago and some of the more recent songs.
“The experimentation has been great and has made getting back on the road a real blessing,” he said.
Crowell has been playing at Birchmere for over 30 years, and it is one of his favorite places to play, having played there around 80 times.
“It’s one of the primo listening rooms,” he said. “Always a pleasure to return to.”
A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, in his more than 40-year career, Crowell achieved 15 No. 1 hits, and his songs were sung by a who’s who of musical legends, including Emmylou Harris. , Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Keith Urban. He has also written beloved songs for artists such as Bob Seger, Etta James, the Grateful Dead, John Denver, Jimmy Buffett and countless others.
He is also the author of the acclaimed memoir, “Chinaberry Sidewalks”, revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly of a poor Southeast Texas childhood.
Crowell came to Nashville’s songwriting heyday alongside Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle and carried on that legacy of camaraderie and kinship with his peers into the iconic era of his career. .
“My career was not so much a decision as a slow dawn that continued for nearly 50 years,” Crowell said. “I came to Nashville and stumbled upon a music scene with these really classic songwriters. I fell in love with Emmylou and we toured with Willie Nelson for
a year non-stop and acclimatized to this creative circle.
In his mind, he never made a career choice, but simply went where the opportunities presented themselves.
“As it is, I’m just a midrange artist, free to do whatever I want because the audience I have is ready for anything,” he said. “I’m not going to get rich with this career that I fell into, but I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do, and I love that freedom.”
Once his current tour is over, Crowell will be heading to Chicago to record a record with Jeff Tweedy, and he’ll be taking some of his new songs for this project.
“One of the things I’ve done with these new songs is I’ve played all the instruments on them, then recorded and mixed them, and at some point I’ll release those efforts” , Crowell said. “I need to distance myself a little more from the pandemic. It will become more meaningful, so I think I’ll wait a few years. »
This fall, Crowell released a prose lyric book that includes 160 song lyrics, plus testimonials, photography and art, and he’s excited for fans to see this, and plans to do stories and performances. to coincide with the release.
It’s just another way for Crowell to bring his extraordinary writing to the universe.