Paul Craft, the Nashville-based songwriter whose work was recorded by the likes of Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles, died last weekend at a Nashville hospital. He was 76 years old. Craft had been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame just a few weeks earlier.
Craft’s early days were spent on the road, travelling between Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia. In his youth, he spent some time in the Coast Guard, but music was always one of his first loves. He started off as a banjo player touring with Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, but he eventually exited the stage to focus on writing songs, and that’s when things really took off.
Craft was something of an anomaly among the Nashville songwriting scene. A former law student and member of MENSA, Craft eschewed the collaborative nature of other Nashville songwriters, preferring instead to work by himself. As a result, Craft’s songs contained a singular voice and perspective unlike anything heard in country music before. Craft’s wit was able to find mass appeal, as evidenced by the success of “It’s Me Again, Margaret”–which became a hit when performed by Ray Stevens–and “Dropkick Me Jesus,” which became a hit for Bobby Bare.
Craft was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame on October 5th, but he was rushed to the hospital shortly after appearing for a photo op at the ceremony.