The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame announced its class of 2016 today (Aug. 9): Bob Morrison, Aaron Barker, Beth Nielsen Chapman and the late Townes Van Zandt. The foursome (Townes posthumously) will be inducted on Oct. 9 at the Music City Center, joining the 199 existing members of the organization, including Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks and more.
Aaron and Beth were selected in the Songwriter category, while Bob secured his spot as Veteran Songwriter and Townes was elected as Songwriter/Artist, with his son Will accepting the honor on his behalf.
Partial Song List: “You Decorated My Life” (Kenny Rogers), “Lookin’ for Love” (Johnny Lee), “Love the World Away” (Kenny Rogers), “You’re the One” (Oak Ridge Boys), “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy” (Conway Twitty), “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” (Dixie Chicks)
Favorite Song Written: “It’s hard because you love them for different reasons, but I think ‘Give Her Thorns (And She’ll Find the Roses)’ [by Pat Boone] is probably my favorite. I wrote that with a wonderful guy, Dennis Linde, who died too young, so there’s emotion in my feelings for that song. Dennis Linde was a great, great guy, one of the sweetest men I’ve ever known.”
What the Induction Means to Him: “It’s the culmination of a long time. To me, the reward has been knowing the people I’ve known. It has been a wonderful experience. This is the greatest experience of my life getting to be involved with the people I’ve met and to have success at something you love to do. Not many people can say that. This honor is the cherry on top.”
Partial Song List: “Baby Blue” (George Strait), “Love Without End, Amen” (George Strait), “Easy Come, Easy Go” (George Strait), “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” (George Strait), “Not Enough Hours in the Night (Doug Supernaw), “Watch This” (Clay Walker), “What About Now” (Lonestar)
Favorite Song Written: “My favorite one is ‘Love Without End, Amen.’ I love it particularly because I wrote that for my son. It’s definitely all real. The last verse was not working and I couldn’t find it and I was doing something I call ‘get on my knees and play.’ It’s where I’m kinda praying and playing my guitar at the same time. And I think I had a co-writer on that last verse, God. The verse just came to me so I always say I had God as a co-writer on that song. And He hasn’t asked for half the publishing royalties [laughing].”
What the Induction Means to Him: “It’s very unexpected, but to me it means that I was here and I earned the respect of the people that I respected. I don’t know how else to say it, but that is just unbelievable to me. I never expected it. To be able to go in the Hall of Fame with the people I admired all my life—Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Dean Dillon, Whitey Shafer, I could go on all night—it’s hard to absorb, but it’s pretty amazing.”
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Partial Song List: “Ain’t Necessarily So” (Willie Nelson), “Nothing I Can Do About It Now” (Willie Nelson), “Down on My Knees” (Trisha Yearwood), “Five Minutes (Lorrie Morgan), “Happy Girl” (Martina McBride), “Strong Enough to Bend” (Tanya Tucker), “This Kiss” (Faith Hill)
Favorite Song Written: “That’s a tough question, but I think one of the songs that’s gifted me back the most is a song I wrote called ‘Sand and Water.’ I wrote it after my husband’s death and it went out into the world, and I’ve gotten so much feedback on it from people that it helped as they were going through a loss. I’m actually putting out a new record—Live On—at the end of September with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky and we re-recorded that song. That’s my favorite song.”
What the Induction Means to Her: “It is beyond what I ever expected. It’s an incredible honor. I make records and I’m a singer, but to be honored as a songwriter is the pinnacle for me. Songwriting is an art form that has to be protected right now, more than ever. A lot of our best writers that we celebrate today rely on this form of income that has dropped away. I’m really excited to have a platform to speak on now, especially for the next generation of songwriters.”
Townes Van Zandt
Partial Song List: “For the Sake of the Song,” “Waiting ‘Round to Die,” “To Live Is To Fly,” “No Place to Fall,” Rex’s Blues,” “St. John the Gambler,” “Tecumseh Valley,” If I Needed You” (Emmylou Harris & Don Williams), “Pancho and Lefty” (Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard)
main photo: (From left) Aaron Barker, Bob Morrison, Beth Nielsen Chapman and William Van Zandt
photos by Jason Simanek