One of the best songwriters in Nashville over the past number of years has been the incredible Phil Vassar. But as much as he's given his deserved due on his writing, he's a pretty darn good recording artist, and certainly a stellar performer. Phil Vassar can do it all.
Carlene - Started His Run Of Hits
Truth be told, not all country artists are songwriters. There have always been those who are, that goes back to Hank Williams Sr., who wrote a treasure chest of big songs. But in fact, not so many years ago, there was a definite divide between those who wrote the songs and who sang them in Nashville. That has changed much over the years, and I would say today more performers are writing their own songs than ever before. Double edged sword, as there is big money in writing songs if they hit. If they don't, you may have wished you recorded songs from an accomplished writer if possible.
Phil Vassar's songwriting is incredible, as many have been fortunate to record his songs that have become hits. I am a big believer in the Nashville songwriting community. Of course there are great writers who are also performers, but the writers have a great track record decades long of incredible written songs.
His First Number One Hit - Solo - His
Vassar has done both. I always loved his solo career and his projects. He hit at the end of country's biggest decade, the 1990's as a solo artist. With so many stars and big songs it was tough to get noticed. But I always thought his voice was different enough to cut through and his showmanship on stage was enviable. He was a rarity in Nashville, he was a piano playing artist with a flair for the dramatic on stage. There have not been many of them, Ronnie Milsap Jerry Lee Lewis from a different era comes to mind in country. The incredible piano players like Floyd Cramer, (ask your Nana) and of course Billy Joel and Elton John from rock. I have worked with Vassar a few times, and each time his live show has been terrific. He did a charity show at Tangier a number of years ago for us here at WQMX, and listeners still talk about how great that show was.
His first solo hit was a great little song called Carlene in 1999 and became a top five hit. The album was self titled and a few more songs came off that album, including Just Another Day In Paradise, which went number one. Over the next seven years or so, he was a consistent hit maker. The American Child album and song that followed was a very big success, and the albums that followed also charted well, with songs generally in the top ten.
Solo Signature Song
But where Vassar really lives is in songwriting. He has written big song songs for many front line stars including Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Collin Raye and JoDee Messina. He is spoken in the same breath as any of the big Nashville songwriters of any era. Every era has those composers in Nashville that have great success for a good while, like Bob McDill, Paul Overstreet and others. For his run, Vassar was the most prolific writer going. His list is impressive.
Big Number One!
Some Of Phil Vassar's written songs and artists - all went number one.
For A Little While - Tim McGraw
My Next Thirty Years - Tom McGraw
I'm Alright - Jo Dee Messina
Baby Bye, Bye - Jo Dee Messina
Little Red Rodeo - Collin Raye
Right On The Money - Alan Jackson
Those were in addition to his own hits and releases over the years. Nashville needs guys like Phil Vassar. In fact, I love great songwriters as many times they supply important songs to artists with material that is far better. Alan Jackson is, and was a prolific songwriter, and even HE recorded some of Vassar's songs.
Phil Vassar. One incredibly talented individual, and we were - and are - lucky to have him.