Country Songwriter Curly Putman Looks Forward

In the 1980s, country A&R people, in imitation of the pop culture, began to make songwriters of all their newly signed artists by booking them into writing sessions with veteran hit songwriters, and the era of the great nonperforming songwriter began to fade away. One of the greatest songwriters from that bygone era was Curly Putman, writer or co-writer of country classics that include “The Green Green Grass of Home,” “My Elusive Dreams,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” “It’s a Cheating Situation,” and many more.

Putman wrote what he knew. He came down from his native Putman Mountain to develop his talents at Nashville’s real-time university, Music Row. His father was a sawmill man and Putman was a steel guitar player. He grew up in the country culture and passed it on in his music, always staying true to the art form.

Most country songwriters, when they’re stuck for a line, find their mind reaching for just the right word or the right musical phrase. Not Putman. When he fights for the next line, his eyes close tight as if in pain, as he searches not for the next word, but the next feeling. You can hear it in his voice as the line comes; the sad, lonesome phrase that was his signature for so many years, and which long ago almost brought him success.

George Jones once said, ‘I’m glad you stuck to writing. Tammy and I used to just love your demos.’ They could feel the feeling I put into a song. I guess I still do, I put all my heart [into singing a song] and it’s almost embarrassing, and people kind of look at you like, ‘that’s pitiful,’ because it’s so sad, and everything I write is pretty sad. I believe that touches people of all kinds. ‘Green Green Grass of Home’ and ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ were people-type songs, not just something that’s gonna be out there one day and gone the next.”

But it’s been many years since Putman’s last hits. For him to have hits today, “I think I’d have to have a co-writer that understands what’s happening on the writing end of it. I don’t think younger people are basically interested in songs, and what they’re saying. Nearly all the songs you hear have pretty much the same uptempo sound, pretty much all in the same beat, and I don’t think they even care about that. They like to feel they’re a part of the concert event. You can see them waving their hands and screamin’, all that, and these artists could sing anything and [the audiences] would love it.”

Putman says the contempo country scene will change. Country has traditionally been built around the emotions of love, he says. “Found and lost love. Just about everything I wrote was that. That’s what I felt more than anything. Then they [producers] got to saying, ‘well, I don’t want no drinkin’ songs,’ trying to please the record labels, that are trying to please radio. Now, if I had a hit song, I don’t know if it could be played on the radio.”

More Music

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Nick Tosches, Author of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis Biographies, Dies at 69

    Some time around the turn of the century, author Nick Tosches prankishly hacked his own online biography so that it gave his death date as the year 2021 — picked, he said, because “it was the anniversary of Dante’s death (in 1321); it made so much sense.” He wasn’t too many years off with that [...]

  • Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike

    Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Take No. 1 Spot on Top 100 DJs Poll

    The duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike top DJ Mag’s 2019 Top 100 DJs poll, returning to the list since taking the No. 1 spot in 2015 and dethroning Martin Garrix after three years of dominance. The results of the Top 100 DJs were arrived at from 1.3 million votes cast in 179 countries. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content