Bruce Robison Sees Anger Turn to Joy

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Twelve years after he wrote “Angry All the Time,” his eloquent dissection of a relationship gone awry, and four years after recording it himself, songwriter Bruce Robison finally had the satisfaction of seeing Tim McGraw take the song to No. 1. Robison, McGraw and the other principal players in this Music Row drama gathered Tuesday (Feb. 19) at a Nashville restaurant to celebrate their common victory.

BMI, the performance rights organization, and Carnival Music, which published the song, staged the celebration.

Among the guests were Faith Hill (who sang with husband McGraw on the song), singer Kelly Willis (who sang with husband Robison on the original recording), Lee Ann Womack (whose husband, Frank Liddell, is a partner in Carnival Music), singer Dean Miller and songwriter Paul Kennerley.

Robison told the gathering that he was “flattered beyond words” that McGraw liked the song enough to record it. McGraw responded that “it should have been a No. 1 song the first time it was out.”

Liddell, who brought Robison to Nashville 11 years ago, said, “The greatest thing in my career was to hear that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were fighting over [which should record] our song. That’s a hard battle to lose.” In observation of the song’s combat motif, Liddell passed out award plaques on which boxing gloves were mounted.

At times, the party resembled pick-up time at a day-care center. While some of the guests’ older children scrambled around underfoot, Willis carried baby son Deral Otis on her hip and Hill cradled daughter Gracie. Hill told that she will perform “There You’ll Be” from Pearl Harbor at the upcoming Academy Awards show.

Speaking with before the party got underway, Robison explained that he was inspired to write “Angry All the Time” by the many divorces he had witnessed, including that of his own parents. His 1998 recording of the song was accompanied by a music video in which he and Willis portray the mind-numbing motions of a couple breaking up.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to