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Johnson gives Cochran the tribute treatment

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 – Jamey Johnson is giving Hank Cochran the tribute treatment on "Livin' For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran," due Oct. 16 release on Mercury. Johnson recorded the disc with a slew of other performers, including Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn.

The Buddy Cannon-produced album will be available first on vinyl beginning Sept. 25. This is the follow-up to Johnson's much acclaimed double disc, "The Guitar Song" from 2010.

Cochran, who died at age 74 in 2010, is considered one of the greatest songwriters in country music. "If I had to dream up somebody like Hank to influence songwriters, I couldn't have done a better job," Johnson said. "That's what he was - not just for me, but for Willie and for a lot of people - just a helpful friend. If he knew you needed help with something, he could help you. He was there. And that's what I want to be for the people in my life, same as Hank. He influenced me, not only as an artist and songwriter, but also as a person."

A mentor to artists such as Nelson and Merle Haggard, Cochran's catalog includes such standards as I Fall to Pieces, She's Got You, Make the World Go Away, The Chair, Set 'Em Up Joe and Ocean Front Property. His songs have been recorded by artists including Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, George Jones, George Strait, Elvis Presley, Elvis Costello, Ray Price, Ronnie Milsap and Jim Reeves.

On "Livin' For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran," Johnson and Nelson sing Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me, and the duo is joined by Leon Russell and Vince Gill on Everything But You. "Well, really, when you start talking about songwriters, you've got to say his name first," said Nelson. "Then you start talking about everybody else. I think everybody would agree that Hank was the best writer up there."

Johnson, Nelson, Haggard and Kris Kristofferson sing Living for a Song, a recording that includes Cochran's voice. "Hank's ability to perform comes across right there," Haggard said of the song he describes as "our life on paper, music." "I mean, he's in there with some of the best singers in the world, and he gets it across better."

Johnson teamed with Haggard on the Patsy Cline 1961 hit I Fall to Pieces. Haggard said, "It's important historically for people to know who Hank Cochran was and what he did. He always wanted to be the Hemingway of country music and I think he did it."

"Shortly after he first met Jamey, Hank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer," said his widow, Suzi Cochran. "So for the two years he lived after that, Jamey would get off the road and pull his bus right up to the hospital, run up and see Hank and raise Hank's spirits. The last time Jamey saw Hank was the night before Hank died." Johnson joined Cannon and Billy Ray Cyrus at Cochran's bedside as they handed the guitar back and forth while singing Cochran's songs. Cochran died about six hours later.

Cochran's passing inspired the idea for the tribute album. "We all met at the house one day and sang some songs," Johnson said. "Bobby Bare was introducing me to a bunch of songs that when I thought I heard it all, I hadn't heard anything yet. All the best stuff was the stuff I didn't know about yet.

"An entire list of songs was created, not because I knew these songs existed and wanted to cut them, but because the other person did. Everybody got to pick their own, and so for me, it was just as much of a journey as it was for the band or anybody else involved."

"Hank adored Jamey," Suzi Cochran said. "Hank loved Jamey. Jamey was a constant in the last chapter of Hank's life."

"This is incredible," she said. "I wish Hank had been here to see it. He wouldn't believe it. He would have cried. He'd be happy. It's exactly like Hank would have done it."

Songs on the CD are:

1. "Make the World Go Away" - Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss

2. "I Fall to Pieces" - Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard

3. "A Way to Survive" - Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill and Leon Russell

4. "Don't Touch Me" - Jamey Johnson and Emmylou Harris

5. "You Wouldn't Know Love" - Jamey Johnson and Ray Price

6. "I Don't Do Windows" - Jamey Johnson and Asleep at the Wheel

7. "She'll Be Back" - Jamey Johnson and Elvis Costello

8. "Would These Arms Be in Your Way" - Jamey Johnson

9. "The Eagle" - Jamey Johnson and George Strait

10. "A-11" - Jamey Johnson and Ronnie Dunn

11. "I'd Fight the World" - Jamey Johnson and Bobby Bare

12. "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" - Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson

13. "This Ain't My First Rodeo" - Jamey Johnson and Lee Ann Womack

14. "Love Makes a Fool of Us All" - Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson

15. "Everything But You" - Jamey Johnson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell

16. "Livin' for a Song" - Jamey Johnson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson

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