“If I had to dream up somebody like Hank to influence songwriters, I couldn’t have done a better job,” Johnson says. “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.”
Johnson sings on all 16 of the album’s tracks. His collaborators include Asleep at the Wheel, Bobby Bare, Elvis Costello, Ronnie Dunn, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ray Price, Leon Russell and Lee Ann Womack.
A mentor to Nelson and Haggard, Cochran’s catalog includes “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 Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline, George Jones, Strait, Elvis Presley, Costello, Price, Ronnie Milsap, Jim Reeves and many others.
“Well, really, when you start talking about songwriters, you’ve got to say his name first,” Nelson said. “Then you start talking about everybody else. I think everybody would agree that Hank was the best writer up there.”
“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,” Haggard said.
Here is the track listing for Livin’ for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran:
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