Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran by Jamey Johnson

There are labors of love and then there are albums like Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran, in which an artist is so fully committed to a project—or, in this case, to a man—that he leaves a piece of himself in the finished product. In honoring his friend and inspiration, the late writer Hank Cochran, Jamey Johnson recorded one of the most heartfelt albums of the year.

With help from heavy hitters Willie Nelson, George Strait, Ray Price, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill and others, Jamey adds new polish to 16 of Hank’s lyrical gems. Lead-off track “Make the World Go Away” with Alison Krauss is an ethereal masterpiece, with Alison’s angelic highs blending surprisingly well with Jamey’s deep drawl.

On “She’ll Be Back,” Elvis Costello and Jamey—an odd couple if ever there was one—shine on a jazzy piano-driven lament, while Willie adds hushed elegance to “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me.”

The real revelation, however, is the swinging “I Don’t Do Windows,” a song that Jamey says Hank often petitioned him to cut. Backed by Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, the normally stoic Jamey sounds like he’s having honest-to-goodness fun, making one wonder if, underneath that bushy beard, he’s flashing a big smile to his late mentor.

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