Singer-songwriter Darrell Scott’s new album, Long Ride Home, is an autobiographical romp through his past, and features guests like songwriting heavyweights Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark. We asked Scott about Long Ride Home, being a member of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, his approach to songwriting and more.
Who are your songwriting heroes?
Guy Clark, Mickey Newbury, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Townes, Hank, and a thousand more.
You won the AMA for Song of the Year in 2007 with “Hank Williams’ Ghost” on Invisible Man album. Did you anticipate that song’s success?
I never have any idea of how a song will be received as I work on it (success or otherwise) 0- if I am aware of thinking it may be a success as I’m writing, it is a sure sign that it won’t be.
You toured with Robert Plant as a member of Band of Joy. What was that like?
Great band, great artists, great leaders (Buddy and Robert) great music, great moments.
What’s the key to writing a good location song, like “You’ll Never Leave Harland alive” or “Hopskinsville” or “No Love For Arkansas.”
Be honest whenever possible.
Is it easier, or harder to write songs, the more you write?
It is harder to write songs that are, knowingly, bad songs, the more you write.
What’s a song of yours that’s really touched people?
“Harlan” seems to have done it.
When did you start writing songs? Were they good right away, or did that come later?
I started when I was 12 — a re-write of the folk song “Deliah’s Gone’ — it wasn’t very good.
What’s a song on your new album your particularly proud of?
“Someday” – I wrote it without ever writing it down and forgot about it, ‘cause I wasn’t sure I had it -I then forgot it, and it showed up about 6 months later, intact – like a gift. I like mystery.
What’s a lyric on the album you’re especially proud of, and why?
I like the stance of the cowboy in: “Candle for a Cowboy” co-written with Marcus Hummon. the title of the album: “Long Ride Home” came from the last verse.
Are there any words you love, or hate?
What’s your typical approach to songwriting? Do you revise a lot, or do you like to write automatically?
I let inspiration get it started. Then after inspiration has left the room I stop or I edit, whichever is fruitful.
What sort of things inspire you to write?
Being a father, a son, a mate. Being alive.
What’s the last song you wrote or started?
A hymn styled song called, “On Life’s Other Side. “I started it at my Dad’s in Kentucky while he was alive – – I excused myself from the breakfast table to do it.
Who’s an underrated songwriter in your opinion?
Malcolm Holcomb, David Olney, Mary Gauthier, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Marcus Hummon are great writers, and a thousand more.
What do you consider to be the perfect song?
Today I will say, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” by Hank Williams. The blend of nature observation and the narrator’s internal suffering and his ability to portray both equally is ancient stuff. Tomorrow, I’d say: “To Live’s to Fly” by Townes, the next day, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” by Kris Kristofferson.