Joe Collins picks guitar and sings in a variety of settings, from a cappella gospel to novelty country, but is best-known around Nashville for his songwriting, a type of creativity that represents Music City's real lifeline. His co-writing partners have included Richard Fagan and Kacey Jones, the former songwriter one-half of the extremely successful Fagan & Clark songwriting team. With Fagan, Collins has come up with the rhythm & blues ballad "Baby Don't Walk Away," a potential promotional number for bus and taxi companies, and several humorous novelty numbers, including "Hip Hop and Honkytonk," an early entry in an ongoing movement blending rap and country. Fagan and Collins' ditty entitled "Number Two" references bodily functions, not hit chart positions, and may have been influenced by a song, or rather a number, that the goofy Roger Miller used to perform on-stage but was prohibited from recording due to the stricter censorship of his era.
Despite its conservative reputation, Nashville has opened up considerably since those days, creating opportunities for writers such as Collins and Jones, the brassy singer who recorded "Every Man I Love Is Either Married, Gay, or Dead!" A publicity photo for this tune is quite amusing, and also manages to sum up Nashville, since everyone pictured is actually a songwriter, as is, no doubt, the photographer who took the picture. Collins is seen wearing a tuxedo t-shirt, representing "married," while the aforementioned Fagan wears a wedding dress for "gay" and Craig Graffin is disguised as the late (i.e., dead) Elvis Presley. "Hip Hop and Honkytonk" was cut by the rowdy Cledus T. Judd for an album that unfortunately asked the musical question Did I Shave My Back for This?. A more serious side to Collins is represented by his gospel songwriting and vocalizing in groups such as Phillybilly, also featuring Fagan, and the Prodigals. Collins came out of the Cleveland, OH, music scene, where he was a founding member of the bluegrass group the Boiled Buzzards, fronted by banjoist Dan Levenson. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi