East Kentucky Blues from Larry Cordle

Bluegrass songwriter supreme Larry Cordle has a new single, East Kentucky Blues, which he sings in his own inimitable style.

It’s the story of a man homesick for the mountains of eastern Kentucky that Cord said took a while to bring to fruition.

“Circa March of 1995, I had this song idea down in an old book. Looking at the old notes, I can see I was trying to write it back then from a vastly different angle. I even tried to write it with Kenny Chesney once. He wanted me to change the title to Smoky Mountain Blues since he was from East Tennessee. I was okay with that, and we finally sat down to write it one day. However, Kenny had so much going on in his life that we were constantly interrupted by phone calls from management, A&R at his record label, agents, etc. So, after two or three hours of trying to get a direction for the song to go in, we just gave up. I hardly saw Kenny much after that, as his career blew up in the late ’90s.

I never forgot the song idea, however. During the pandemic, after finally learning more than any grown man should ever know about Netflix, Prime Video, and  Apple TV, I started going through old stuff, looking for something I could write. Wallah! I found East Kentucky Blues! I got my guitar out, and after many starts and stops, plus being bummed out, I found a phrase I had written down sometime in the early 2000s on an old yellow notepad. It said: ‘East Kentucky hound dog, East Kentucky mule, Lord, tonight I’ve got the East Kentucky Blues.’ From there, I was able to craft the chorus, and from there, I got the verses over three or four nights. I particularly like the second verse of the song because I was able to use something my Uncle Jr Cordle used to say to me. He said, ‘There are three sounds that can’t be imitated. The sound of good hot Baptist meetin’, the sad call of a lonesome dove, and a mountain fiddler who knows how to handle a bow.’

Thank God for letting me remember that and for giving me this song. I wasn’t totally settled on the melody until I got to the studio, but in the end, I really like the way it turned out.”

Sounds like another classic. Have a listen.

East Kentucky Blues from Larry Cordle is available now from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.