Going back a bit for my second Throwback Thursday Blog: 1992. My introduction to Wynonna Judd was a phone call from the legendary Tony Brown. I of course knew who she was from the Judd's enormous success and had even gone to their farewell concert some time before. This was one of those dream calls for a songwriter. She had heard some of my songs and while in a meeting with Tony they tracked me down at home. Tony put Wynonna on the phone and she asked if I could send anything and everything I had ASAP. This was the start of a long and winding road; and like most things in music, didn’t go as smoothly as I planned.
She didn’t use anything of mine for her first solo record, Wynonna, but I did come down and meet her in Nashville thanks to my buddy John Cooper (who was mixing her concerts at the time). Her voice blew me away and still does.
Flash forward to 1995-96. She had cut a song I had written with Kye Fleming and Mary Ann Kennedy called “Can’t Stop My Heart” for her 3rd album, Revelations. We were all huge fans and the song was perfect for her. And this is where most songwriters have one of those “war stories”. They were having trouble getting the feel of the original demo and called with a couple of questions (it was a drum loop). I figured it’s Nashville...they’ll nail it eventually. “Can’t Stop My Heart” just about did. They dropped it!
I was stunned. I had just moved to Nashville with my wife and two young daughters and was really counting on this cut to kick things into a new gear. Crushed wasn’t even close. I thought the stars had aligned with this one. I had written it with two of my best friends, an artist I loved was recording it. This seemed like a perfect single on an album everyone wanted on. As I said, every songwriter has the ones that got away and I’d had my share (including a song I wrote for one of my heroes, Roy Orbison, who cut it for his Mystery Girl album but passed away before doing a vocal). Still, this one was different somehow.
Here’s where it got pretty interesting. A few weeks passed and I get a call from John Cooper, still working for Wynonna and now my neighbor In Kingston Springs, Tennessee. “Too bad about ‘Can’t Stop My Heart’”, he said, “but the other one is still on the record.” The other one?!
Turns out she had cut a song I’d written with LuLu and her brother Billy Lawrie in England. It wasn’t remotely Country, I didn’t even know she’d heard it, and no one told us they were even thinking about cutting it. “My Angel Is Here” made it on to Revelations. The album entered the charts in ’96 at #2 and stayed there a long time (stuck behind Shania Twain) on the Pop and Country charts. It went platinum—the song even came out as the third single (but didn’t fare too well). I didn’t really mind, because I felt like I'd been thrown a lifeline. One of the highlights was going to the taping for the TV special and having her stop the taping to say hi to my wife, daughters, and myself. Check out the video from the special below.
I’ve met her a few times since, including having her come to the house and co-write years ago. I’ve even had a few more misses with songs being recorded but not making the album at the 11th hour. Doesn’t matter; this is still one of my favorite “war stories”, complete with a happy ending. I’ll always be grateful to her for recording that song.
One last side note. I mentioned “My Angel Is Here” didn’t do that well as a single…but the amazing thing to me was the B-side, “Change The World”. Eric Clapton later also cut it and it won a Grammy for song of the year—the girl can pick ‘em!
Dedicating all my blogs this year to the memory of John Braheny. I still ask every songwriter or artist I coach to pick up his book before we start talking.
There is also a college scholarship in John's name, through the California Copyright Conference (John was a past president)...here's the link: