It’s the kind of story you never hear.
A practicing medical doctor from a small town in Montana has a passion for songwriting. So he writes and records a few albums over the years and self releases them, occasionally performing at various songwriting festivals over the country.
While camping with his kids one year near Yellowstone the good doctor meets Nashville songwriting luminary Darrell Scott, who is also there with his kids. They become fast friends, not through songwriting initially, but through the shared experience of living as divorced fathers.
This is the story of Ben Bullington, a father of three who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 58 in November 2013.
Scott, a Grammy nominee who in his time has also been named ASCAP Songwriter of the Year and NSAI Songwriter of the Year, did not hear Bullington’s songs until the last year of his friend’s life. When Scott did finally hear them, he was blown away – by the honesty of the compositions and their exceedingly well-crafted nature.
“It was all there,” Scott said. “Song after song of hearing someone who loved song as much as I loved song … who knew form and the power of what this simple art can do.”
As such, Scott’s next album, 10, will consist solely of songs written by Bullington. It’s a tribute to the man himself and his passion for music, but also to the merits of his artistry.
During the last three months of Bullington’s life, Scott began sending Bullington iPhone recordings of his own versions of several Bullington tunes.
“The first iPhone recording, ‘I’ve Gotta Leave You Now,’ closes this album,” Scott said. “This recording is what Ben heard and he loved it. What I wanted was for Ben to hear his songs coming toward him rather than only from him.”
The video below features a performance of Bullington singing one of his own tunes, “Country Music I’m Talking To You,” at a Nashville’s songwriter’s round, where he’s joined by Darrell Scott, Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell, who also has become a fan of Bullington’s songs. “After listening to 10 I can say, with all sincerity, Darrel Scott has created a masterwork,” Crowell said. “His readings of Ben’s songs are tone perfect.”
10 will be released on Full Light Records on May 19 in conjunction with Thirty Tigers. The album’s release show will take place that day at City Winery, in Nashville, where Darrell Scott will be joined by Will Kimbrough, Tommy Womack, Gretchen Peters, Barry Walsh, John Cowan, Tracy Nelson, Bill Payne and Kenny Malone. Buy tickets here.