It all started about two years ago.
For hit songwriter John Scott Sherrill it began with the loss of his favorite honky tonk, Bobby’s Idle Hour. The famed Music Row songwriters’ haven was sold to a developer who promptly demolished the landmark in favor of a modern, multi-story office building.
“That seemed to set the tone for what was to follow,” Sherrill says. “It was a huge loss to Music Row and everything went downhill from there.”
Sherrill, like other Americans, has spent the time since dealing with societal problems and divisions caused by politics and a world-wide pandemic.
Being a keen observer, Sherrill dealt with the stress the only way a songwriter can – he created an EP, Copper Tears, that speaks to the times we’re living in.
"We are experiencing a number of big changes in our world, and the songs on this project reflect how I've been feeling lately," he observes. “Some old songs and some new…. They all feel relevant to our times. I hope they speak to others like they do me."
Copper Tears covers the range of his (and our) experience and struggle to make sense of the world. The first single, “You Are Still Great,” offers a unifying message. Released with a video prior to the November 2020 election, it calls for us to find our common ground.
“You are still great / You don’t need to be made great again / Don’t you know you are the land / Of the free and the home of the brave / Let the bitterness go / Hold each other close / Oh, don’t you know you are still great?”
"The message is that there is still so much that unites rather than tears us apart," wrote Music Row's Robert K. Oermann. "The sentiment is all the more potent because he's such a wonderful honky-tonk singer and because the harmonies are bluegrass inspired. In case you don't know, Sherrill is one of the greatest country songwriters in history."
On the title track, he calls us to see ourselves through the eyes of Lady Liberty. He reflects on the loss of family farms and historic sites like Music Row on “Five Generations of Rock County Wilsons” and “Boomtown.” He touches on the longing of separation on“Far Away Angel” and the passing of time on “Shot From A Cannon.”
Produced by Sherrill with Ronnie Bowman and Scott Paschall, Copper Tears features the same acoustic instrumentation and country charm as his 2018 acclaimed release, Mr. Honky Tonk. The songs deliver Sherrill's trademark clear-eyed lyrics and memorable melodies.
Over the years, Sherrill has written 11 #1 hits and countless covers for the likes of Patty Loveless, John Anderson, Josh Turner, Peter Wolf & Mick Jagger, Steve Wariner, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Jimmy Buffett, and Alison Krauss, among others. His co-writes include such legends as Michael McDonald, Steve Cropper, Peter Frampton and Dave Loggins.
Top shelf musicians enlisted for the project include Rod McCormack (guitars), Josh Matheny (dobro), Dave Pomeroy (bass), Michael Spriggs (acoustic guitar), Eddie Bayers (drums) and Patrick McAvinue (fiddle).
Sherrill is optimistic about where things are heading. Heck, even Bobby’s Idle Hour has recently reopened just down the street from its previous location. Sherrill’s had his COVID vaccinations, and is once again singing and drinking beer at this favorite honky tonk with some of his favorite people.
FROM MR. HONKY TONK
On a trip from his New Hampshire home to California in 1975, John Scott Sherrill made plans to stop in Nashville to see his brother. He reached the outskirts of town in the pouring rain just as his headlights and his windshield wipers stopped working. Trying to reach his brother’s home he drove on with his head out of the window. It wasn’t long before his Chevy van stopped altogether. “I’ve never seen it rain that hard,” Sherrill laughs. “Raindrops were as big as half dollars!”
Sherrill’s arrival in Nashville is a story that can probably be told by countless refugees. It’s what he did once he arrived that’s worth noting.
Since that rain drenched night, Sherrill has enjoyed Nashville’s sunshine, racking up 11 #1 hits and countless covers by the likes of John Anderson, Patty Loveless, Josh Turner, Steve Wariner, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Alison Krauss, Jimmy Buffett, Peter Wolf, Mindy Smith, and even Mick Jagger. His credits include co-writes with such legends as Michael McDonald, Steve Cropper, Peter Frampton and Dave Loggins.
On his new Mr. Honky Tonk, John Scott Sherrill shows why he’s long been considered a writer’s writer. The new album reflects an everyman-sophistication, not only with the songwriting and production, but also through Sherrill’s honest and authentic voice.
In addition to a few covers of songs written for country stars Wariner (“Some Fools Never Learn”), Anderson (“Wild and Blue”), Loveless (“Nothin’ But The Wheel”) and Turner (“Would You Go With Me”), Sherrill introduces such gems as “Sweeter Than Sugar Cane,” “Before the Going Gets Rough,” “Itty Bitty Fiddle,” and the title cut, “Mr. Honky Tonk.”
Over the past three decades, Sherrill has earned a reputation for his lyrics about love, loss and the human condition. His breakthrough hit was Johnny Lee’s “When You Fall In Love” which he co-wrote with his friend, Steve Earle. This was also Earle’s first songwriting hit.
Sherrill was also a member of the Country Music group, Billy Hill, which included fellow hit songwriters Bob DiPiero and Dennis Robbins, as well as ace players Reno Kling and Martin Parker. The group charted with the single “Too Much Month At The End of the Money.”