Saturday, 25 July 2015

Songwriter Wayne Carson dies aged 72

(July 21, BBC News)

Wayne Carson (born Wayne Carson Head; May 31, 1943 – July 20, 2015) has died aged 72.
It never takes me long to write a song. It's just out there. All you got to do is reach out and gather it up and put it together.

Wayne Carson Montage - click to Enlarge

Carson suffered numerous health issues including diabetes and heart and gallstone problems, his wife, Wyndi Harp Head, told the Springfield News-Leader newspaper in Missouri, where they lived.
"Our music community has lost an immense talent much too soon," said Recording Academy
Sometimes credited as Wayne Carson Thompson, was an American country musician, songwriter, and record producer.
Mr Carson played percussion, piano, guitar, and bass.
His most famous songs as a writer include "Neon Rainbow", "The Letter" (Joe Cocker), >> "Soul Deep" (a hit for the Box Tops in 1969) and "Always on My Mind" (written with Mark James and Johnny Christopher). Brenda Lee recorded it in 1972 and Elvis Presley recorded his version of "Always on My Mind" (#20 US Hot 100' #9 UK Single) on March 29, 1972, a few weeks after his February separation from wife Priscilla. 
It was also a #1 Hot Country Song for Willie Nelson in 1982 and a UK #1 Pop Song in 1987 for The Pet Shop Boys.

Carson along with Johnny Christopher and Mark James accepted the trophy for winning Song of the Year for "Always on My Mind" during the CMA Awards show on Oct. 11, 1982. (Photo)

The two-time Grammy winner said he had written "Always on My Mind" in 10 minutes at his kitchen table in Missouri.
>> Watch Mr. Carson talking about "Always on my Mind" for a new songwriter book (published March 21, 2011)
The song gained two further writers, Johnny Christopher and Mark James, when Carson was asked to write an additional bridge section in the recording studio.

Born Wayne Carson Thompson in Denver, the writer's parents Odie and Olivia Head, who performed country, pop, were professional musicians who played under the name Shorty and Sue Thompson.

Carson picked up a guitar when he was about 14 after hearing a recording by Merle Travis, and soon began composing his own songs. One of those compositions, >>"Somebody Like Me", found its way to producer Chet Atkins who played it to country star Eddy Arnold. Arnold liked the song, but thought it was too short - and phoned Carson to ask him to write another verse. Arnold took the song to #1 on the US country charts in 1966, after which Carson became a sought-after writer in Nashville.
He wrote "The Letter" (>> Video), "Soul Deep" and "Neon Rainbow" for The Box Tops; >> "No Love At All" (>> Video) for BJ Thomas (#18 US Hot 100), "You Got What You Wanted" for Ike & Tina Turner and title cut "A Horse Called Music" for Willie Nelson.

By the early ’70s, he’d built enough of a reputation to secure a record contract in his own right and during the 1970s and '80s, Mr. Carson released a handful of his own records, including "Barstool Mountain" and >> "1 Year, 2 Months, 11 Days." (>> YouTube). Then he slowly withdrew from a full-time presence in the business due to an increasing disenchantment with what he saw as growing corporate control.

Among the other artists to record Carson's songs were:
Alabama - "Hollywood" from 1981 debut LP, FEELS SO RIGHT >> YouTube
Johnny Paycheck - "Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets" (#22 Hot Country Songs: 1977; >> YouTube)
Conway Twitty - "The Clown" (Wayne Carson, Brenda Barnett, Charlie Chalmers, Sandra Rhodes; >> YouTube) from the album SOUTHERN COMFORT
Randy Travis - "Horse Called Music" from the album YOU AND YOU ALONE >> YouTube
Moe Bandy - "Barstool Mountain" title cut (#9 Hot Country Songs; 1979; >> YouTube)
Waylon Jennings - "(Don't Let The Sun Set On You In) Tulsa" (>> YouTube) from the 1971 album The Taker/Tulsa and "Something's Wrong in California" (Wayne Carson/Rodney Lay; #19 Hot Country Songs, 1969; >> YouTube)
Mel Tillis - "Who's Julie" title cut (#10 Hot Country Songs, 1968; >> YouTube)
Gary Stewart - "Drinkin' Thing" (#10 Hot Country Songs, 1974; >> YouTube) the lead single from the album, Out of Hand. and >> "She's Acting Single (I'm Drinking Doubles)" (#1 Hot Country Songs, 1975; >> YouTube) the final single from the same album.
Shelby Lynne - "Dog Day Afternoon" (>> YouTube) from the album BEST OF THE EPIC YEARS

BJ Thomas who recorded "Sandman" on his album Everybody's Out Of Town was among the musicians paying tribute, writing on Twitter: "RIP Wayne Carson. My close friend and brother. One of the great writers. Was loved by all and will be missed."
Fellow Nashville composer Casey Kelly wrote on Facebook: "I doubt the world will ever know another of his calibre, and I am beyond saddened for our loss."
Mr. Carson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997 alongside Roger Cook and Hank Thompson.
In 2011, Mr Carson was honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, who made him part of their Poets and Prophets Series (published Dec 3, 2011).
The audience in the museum’s Ford Theater included several previous Poets and Prophets, including Jerry Foster, John Loudermilk, Dan Penn, and Norro Wilson. Chips Moman, Carson’s longtime supporter, traveled from Georgia to sit in the front row. The Box Tops’ guitarist, Gary Talley, also was in attendance, as was keyboardist, producer, and music publisher David Briggs.
Watch it here:

Watch live streaming video from countryhall at

Even though he spoke at a number of songwriting seminars later in his career, Carson always maintained that writing a song wasn’t something that could be taught — that it was more like discovering a story that was already there, waiting to be told. “To me, a good song tells a story that everyone would like to say,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “A song that leads people to say, ‘God, that song’s me.”

He is survived by his wife Wyndi Harp Head and their son Christian.
A funeral service is to be held at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home in Nashville.

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