Larry Cordle has been known to write songs for Garth Brooks ("Against the Grain"), Trisha Yearwood ("Lonesome Dove") and George Strait ("Hollywood Squares"). Now, he is releasing his first Gospel album Give Me Jesus. It contains 13 songs, plus a 12-page booklet with lyrics and details about each one.
About the new album, Cordle says," Recording a Gospel album is something I've always intended and wanted to do. It seems I was always getting sidetracked by other projects or just uncertainty of material or whatever. This was a chance to work with some of my favorite artists, to record some old gems and get some of my 'new' gospel songs out to my fans. I hope my fans (and hopefully we'll make some new ones) will be as excited about the music as I am. As it turns out "Give Me Jesus" is undoubtedly my favorite work to date."
Currently, the singer-songwriter is also battling chronic lymphatic leukemia, a malady that affects older people where the body fails to produce sufficient red blood cells. Fortunately, as Cord explains below, there are therapies available that are tailored to the specific genetic code of the cancer, and have a very good history of success.
Q: Larry, what an honor to have you. You have made known to write songs such as "Murder on Music Row" (Alan Jackson & George Strait), "Lonesome Dove" (Trisha Yearwood), "Against the Grain" (Garth Brooks), and so many others. My favorite song of yours is "Lonesome Standard Time" (Kathy Mattea). Over the course of your songwriting career, has there been a song or two that you feel the most proud of?
Well, "Highway 40 Blues" got me to town & without Ricky making that a #1 for me in the 80's, I would have not likely have been able to get to any of these others. He made it possible for me to move here change careers & work in the industry.I'll mention 2 other songs that I'm most proud of & they were both written with the same co-writer, Larry Shell. They are "The Fields of Home" which is just a 4 minute snapshot of my life really.... it's never been a hit but Ricky recorded it about 25 years ago & I was able to get Kenny Chesney (who always loved the song himself) to record it with me on my All-Star duets project from 2015.
The other favorite of mine is called "Daddy Was a Navy Man." Larry Shell & I wrote this song for our father's as a Father's Day present in 1997. We didn't quite make the deadline but were able to finish it & play it for them that summer. Larry's dad & my dad who never knew each other, were both WW II navy vets .... realizing that some of their stories were remarkably alike, we wrote this song as a tribute to them & all the veterans who served or have ever served. It is one of my favorite accomplishments & was recorded by a young, great country singer here in Nashville, Kevin Denny a few years ago, as well as by myself with my trio Cordle, Jackson & Salley about 20 years ago.
Q: Recently, you have mentioned that you are suffering from leukemia. How are you right now?
My leukemia thank God is in remission & I'm feeling fine.
Q: I know you have never been reticent to mention your faith in your songs even when you were writing for many country music artists. Case in point being Diamond Rio's "Mama Don't Forget to Pray for Me," another favorite of mine. When and how did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian on Sept 10, 2010, on my knees at my old home church "Cordell Freewill Baptist" at Blaine, KY (my hometown) where I'm a member to this day. Though I always believed in God and the teachings from my youth, I had never ask Jesus into my heart & to forgive me the mountain of sin that I had carried for so long. I took the wrong road most of my life & just needed cleansing. Jesus did that for me and I have never felt the elation & freedom I felt when those sins were forgiven me. I want to serve Jesus Christ with whatever remaining life I have left on the planet.
Q: Let's talk about your new album, "Give Me Jesus." Why did you decide to cut a Gospel album?
I had always meant to do a gospel album but just put it off & put it off telling myself well.... next time. My Dad who was still alive when I started earnestly talking about doing this CD encouraged me every time I was there to do a gospel CD & I knew that while I had recorded gospel songs on previous CD's, that I had never done an entire CD dedicated to the Glory of God. After all the Lord has brought me through ... I'm a two time cancer survivor at this point.... I thought it was high time that I did something for His glory instead of my own. I've always loved gospel music & I just felt like I wanted to make an entire gospel CD for my family & fans. Many of my fans had also asked me to do this for a long time. I didn't want to let them or God down, so that's why I recorded this CD.
Q: You have been quoted as saying that this is your favorite project to date. Why?
This is my favorite project to date. I love the songs on here, I love the sparseness of the tracks & I just loved getting to sing with my friends Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Val Storey, Bradley Walker, Don Rigsby, Angie LaPrimm, Gail Mayes & Chris Latham. Plus like I said this CD is for the glory of God.... who has given me such a full life.I'm excited to see if this leads to another new chapter in my life. This CD turned out just like I wanted it to & how I heard it in my head.... that doesn't always happen. I thank God for it.
Q: You have include some traditional material on the album as well as your own compositions. What are some of the traditional songs you have included?
The traditional songs included on the CD all had a reason for being on here:
"Two Coats" is an old traditional Baptist song that I first heard the late great Dr. Ralph Stanley do when I was young. It always raised the hair on my arms to hear him. Knowing I could never do it in that fashion, I came up with this arrangement for a tv show I was guesting on a few years ago in Ashland, KY. It quickly became a much requested song for me & I was able to get Don Rigsby on it with me as well as Rob Ickes who really laid the 'blues' to it ...
"I'll Meet You In The Morning" was sang at my granny Lora Bryant's funeral by the congregation when I was 9 years old. It was always emotional for me & I remembered as well that it was a big singing school number because of its arrangement. My Mom, Dad, Uncle & Aunt used to sing it in a quartet they had & I loved hearing them do it. Add to all that, it was written by my favorite gospel composer Albert E. Brumley & there you have the reason it's on here.
"Old Ship of Zion" was one of my mother's favorite hymns and my dad casually mentioned to me once that "The Old Ship of Zion" would be a good number to include on your gospel CD. Mother wanted it sung at her funeral and my cousin the late Reverend Rick Cordial did that in such a chilling fashion, God rest his soul. I wanted it on here for all those reasons plus I discovered that I love the song as well.
Q: Pick a couple of songs you have written for this album that you are excited about. And tell us more about them.
"The Old Thing's Walkin' About" .... this is a song I wrote from an old family story that my Uncle & my Dad told me over and over again all my life. I tell the whole story in the song blurbs included in the booklet, included in the 1st run CD's, as long as they last. The story was always told to me as something funny but I feel like once I got past that part, Larry Shell & I was able to bring much more to the song, than just something humorous. I'm anxious to see the feedback on that song. I was able to make the track into more of a 'black spritual' sounding thing which sets it apart from all the other tracks on the cd.... Miss Angie LaPrimm & Gail Mayes just brought magic to the track in my opinion as did Clay Hess & Rob Ickes. It turned out just like I heard it in my head.
"This Blood's For You" .... for its honesty and how it applies to my own life. As I've stated earlier, my life was a mess & Jesus through His shed precious blood at Calvary died so I would not be eternally damned for those transgressions. No one has to die and be lost. You just have to pray for forgiveness. It's there for all. Gone On Before because it came from a dream I had of my Mother sometime after she passed. I believe it was sent to me as an additional assurance that she was happy and waiting for me in Heaven.
Q: What's next for you? Any other projects you would like to do?
I'm getting ready to return to the studio on April 11 to start cutting some tracks for some new material, things I have been writing over the last couple of years. I have a couple of left handed Gospel things on the agenda that I'm looking forward to recording .... one is called "Scared The Hell Out of Me." I got it from a sign off the interstate, on my way to a show in Florida. It was Halloween and a sign advertising a church said "want to get the hell scared out of you? come inside". I immediately got my cell phone out & recorded what the sign said. The song itself is a rambling story of a man's life from 1st being scared into believing.. to going off the rails, tragedy & coming back to God after many years. I'm really excited about it & wrote it with my dear friend & most frequent co-writer Larry Shell.
Another sideways gospel number is called "We Blame the Devil" ... I co-wrote it with one of my favorite people & musicians Jenee Fleenor.... she's a fabulous fiddle player, singer & songwriter, who was in an earlier version of my bluegrass band Lonesome Standard Time... and is currently a member of Blake Shelton's touring band and a highly esteemed session player as well. Brandon Rickman another great musician, singer & songwriter & dear friend is the 3rd writer on this particular number. He is the lead singer & guitar player of the great bluegrass group The Lonesome River Band. I got the idea from a friend of mine in KY who told me a funny story about his grandfather having a falling out with a neighbor. The neighbor supposedly got up in open church & said he wanted the grandfather, [I'll call him Mr. Smith] to forgive him for whatever sin he committed against him, [I can't remember now] and that the only explanation he could come up with was the Devil made him do it. Mr. Smith in doing his part in the forgiveness process, told the neighbor, as well as the congregation that he was sorry as well but managed to get in a final dig at him nonetheless, telling the congregation that we blame the poor old devil for everything around here but I believe old Elmer (the neighbor) will have to take credit for this one himself.
Well.... I'm not doing it justice you'd have to hear him tell it, it's hilarious but we were able to get much, much more out of the song title than something funny. That story actually has nothing to do with the song, but wanted to tell you where the title came from.
Q: What does your faith mean for you now?
My faith means everything to me. If everything else in life goes away, I pray that I will always have my faith. God has His own purposes for us & I'm just going to keep on praising His name at every opportunity. He has already blessed me with such a great life but the cancer trials reminded me that this life here is not what's important. This life is going to end. I don't know when, but no one beats death. Whether our sins go before us or follow us is what's important. Being forgiven is what's important. I'm going to try to live & work as long as He lets me be able to do so but what I do here is really not important... it's what He did for me & the whole world at Calvary that's important. He died for us suffering, being beaten nearly to death & then nailed to a dogwood cross. Keeping that fact in the forefront of my thoughts is what's important.