One of my favorite singer-songwriters in the world is Thad Cockrell. I don’t really have the language to talk about his music per se, except to say it’s countrified and Christ-haunted and fueled by a hurt that finds its balm in hope. Thad recently moved back to Nashville, and I met him the other day. In lieu of an actual review, I’m going to tell an anecdote that tells what you need to know about Thad’s music.
A mutual friend, speaking of the song, “Oh to be Loved” (the title track from Thad’s 2009 album) said “That song sounds like it’s a hundred years old.”

Thad said, “I think maybe it is. I think maybe it’s been floating out there for a hundred years and I just caught it.”

There’s Thad Cockrell’s music in a nutshell. Most of it sounds as if it’s been part of the American songbook forever, like “You Are My Sunshine” (which, as it turns out, was written by a governor of Louisiana not so very long ago) or “Happy Birthday” (which didn’t spontaneously appear either; it was written by two sisters in Kentucky in 1893).

Anyway, listen to this, and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

[audio: Oh To Be Loved.mp3]

Thad used to front a band that had as its motto, “Putting the hurt back in country.” An an admirable project indeed. He’s also putting some hurt back in gospel music, which needs it just as surely as country music does. But the hurt always gives way to hope, as in “Rosalyn,” my favorite of Thad Cockrell’s songs:

Don’t you know the sun will shine on you again.
No matter how small the flame,
Against the darkness don’t you know the light will win.

Here’s “Rosalyn” for your listening pleasure:

[audio: Rosalyn.mp3]

I strongly recommend that you hie thee to and secure this album, Oh To Be Loved. And for an actual music review, read whatย Jason Gray had to say on The Rabbit Room. Besides being brilliant at making music, Jason is brilliant at talking about music (and many other things). Also, here’s another good article from a few years back.

  • Patrick
    2:25 PM, 18 January 2011

    tried to play the music links and it says “file not found”- thought you’d like to know.

  • Jess
    3:25 PM, 18 January 2011

    First I ever heard about Thad Cockrell was from Jars of Clay’s The Shelter album last year (I will refrain from saying how much I love Jars of Clay because this is a post about Thad Cockrell). Anyway, I heard his voice on the song “Call My Name” and I immediately thought, “Man, I have got to get some of this guy’s music”. So far no luck. ๐Ÿ™ Maybe I can fish some money out of my purse and buy this CD. In fact, I am getting more determined by the second. :)P.S. The little music players did the same thing to me as they did to Patrick. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jonathan Rogers
    4:48 PM, 18 January 2011

    Thanks for the heads-up, Patrick and Jess. The “file not found” thing should be fixed now.

  • Jess
    6:33 PM, 18 January 2011

    Thank you for fixing those. I almost died with ecstasy when I listened to “Rosalyn”. I am convinced. Very soon I will be buying this CD. You should get 10% comission. Or at least Thad Cockrell should be your best friend. Or something like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Canaan Bound
    11:46 PM, 18 January 2011

    Loved his bit in Sandra McCracken’s In Feast or Follow, but I have not heard much else about him. Good to finally hear from a fan and sample some of his personal stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  • Laura Peterson
    5:04 PM, 23 January 2011

    Thanks for this post, Jonathan. I’d heard a lot about Thad Cockrell but hadn’t actually taken the time to listen. Glad that’s been remedied.

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