4 Songs You Didn’t Know Clint Eastwood Wrote for Artists

Before five-time Oscar-winning actor Clint Eastwood was firing up the big screen in westerns in the late 1960s along with other dramatic roles, he was a musical apprentice, playing piano and obsessed with jazz, while also studying country, blues, classical, and other genres.

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Born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, California, Eastwood initially wanted to study music theory and released the album Cowboy Favorites in 1959, a collection of covers, including Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” and Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose” before pursuing acting more full time.

Along with starring in, directing, and producing numerous films, Eastwood owns Malpaso Records, a Warner Bros. Records-distributed imprint, and has also composed the film scores of Million Dollar BabyFlags of Our FathersGrace Is GoneChangelingHereafterJ. Edgar, and Mystic River, along with the original piano music for In the Line of Fire.

In 1996, Eastwood released a concert album, Eastwood After Hours – Live at Carnegie Hall, which features the actor performing with a jazz ensemble with some songs pulled from his scores for Honkytonk Man (1982), Bird (1988), Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988), and White Hunter Black Heart (1990), and more. By the late ’90s, Eastwood also wrote a song for Diana Krall’s jazz album.

Following his jazz route, Eastwood’s eldest son, Kyle, is also a professional jazz bassist and composer and has also composed music for his father’s films.

In honor of the legendary actor, musician, and songwriter, here’s a look at four songs Eastwood has written throughout his career.

1. “Big Fran’s Baby,” Lennie Neuhaus (1993)
Written by Clint Eastwood

Lennie Niehaus (1929-2020) was an alto saxophonist, arranger, and composer, who played in numerous jazz bands and with the Stan Kenton big band, along with arranging and composing several films produced by Clint Eastwood, including A Perfect World in 1993.

For the film, Eastwood worked with Neuhaus to bring to life a two-step waltz instrumental mingle of bluegrass and bagpipes on “Big Fran’s Baby.”

2. “Why Should I Care,” Diana Krall (1999)
Written by Clint Eastwood, Linda Thompson, Carole Bayer Sager

On Diana Krall‘s fifth album, When I Look in Your Eyes, there’s one hidden track at the end, “Why Should I Care?” a piano-steered ballad written by Eastwood, actress Linda Thompson, and Carole Bayer Sager.

Krall’s jazz-fused album won two Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. 

Was there something more I could have done?
Or was I not meant to be the one?
Where’s the life I thought we would share?
And should I care?

And will someone else get more of you?
Will she go to sleep more sure of you?
Will she wake up knowing you’re still there?
And why should I care?

3. “Grace is Gone,” Jamie Cullum (2007)
Written by Clint Eastwood and Carole Bayer Sager

In the 2007 drama Grace is Gone, starring John Cusack, the story follows a husband who has to break the news that his wife was killed while serving in the military to their two daughters. Directed by James C. Strouse, the score for the film was composed by Eastwood and features British singer and songwriter Jamie Cullum.

The Grace is Gone soundtrack was nominated for Best Original Score Oscar, while the song “Grace is Gone” also picked up a nomination for Best Original Song.

Can’t find all the words yet
It’s still not the time yet
And my mind can’t think of anything
It only sees you

You know I am trying
God knows I am trying
And why does the wind keeps shouting out
It’s still not over

I keep on trying
I think I’m learning
To live in hearts you leave behind
Is not to die, Grace

4. “Gran Torino,” Jamie Cullum, featuring Clint Eastwood (2008)
Written by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, and Michael Stevens

Along with directing and producing the 2008 drama Gran Torino, Eastwood also wrote and is featured on (in character as Walk Kowalski) the theme song, which is heard over the closing credits. The song also reunited Eastwood with Cullum, who previously worked with him on Grace is Gone (see above).

Eastwood’s son Kyle composed the score to Gran Torino along with Michael Stevens.

Gentle now
The tender breeze
Whispers through
My Gran Torino
Whistling another
Tired song

Engine hums
And bitter dreams
Grow heart locked
In a Gran Torino
It beats
A lonely rhythm
All night long
It beats
A lonely rhythm
All night long
It beats
A lonely rhythm
All night long

Photo by Eddie Sanderson/SCOPE FEATURES.COM/Gettyimages.com

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