Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ed Bruce, Prolific Singer-Songwriter, Honored with Posthumous Album, ‘AFTER HOURS’

 

Ed Bruce, Prolific Singer-Songwriter, Honored with Posthumous Album, AFTER HOURS

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – The late Ed Bruce found success as an actor, singer and songwriter, but it was the latter for which he most wanted to be remembered. Some of his best-known songs included “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson), “Restless” (Crystal Gayle), and Tanya Tucker’s “The Man That Turned My Mama On” and “Texas (When I Die).” One of his biggest hits, as a singer, was “You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had,” which reached number one on country charts in 1982, while others he recorded reached the Top 10.

 

Now, some of Bruce’s previously unreleased songs can be heard for the first time on AFTER HOURS, a posthumous16-track album released by Music Row Talent Records (MRT) in collaboration with Old Hat Productions, a creative partnership formed by Bruce and two of his songwriter friends, Mike Morgan and Jeff Elliott, who co-produced the album as a tribute to his memory.

 

“This album is a look back at Ed when he was in his prime,” Elliott said. “He was extraordinarily talented and great fun to be with. He did voiceovers for national commercials, he was an actor and a great singer.

 

“Ed would always say he came to Nashville to be a songwriter,” Morgan recalled. “He wrote and recorded hundreds of songs. We have selected what we think are some of his best unreleased songs for this album and mixed them the way we think he would have wanted them to sound.”

 

The project is as much a personal labor of love for Ann Stuckey, president of Music Row Talent Records, as it is for Morgan and Elliott. Stuckey was married to the late singer-songwriter Nat Stuckey, who was also a longtime friend of Bruce’s.

 

“The bond between Ed and Nat was very strong,” Stuckey said. “They worked so well together; they were like brothers. His talent was so great in so many facets.”

 

AFTER HOURS consists of original recordings, in Ed Bruce’s voice, some initially recorded with just a guitar. Additional tracks were added later.

 

Born in Keiser, Arkansas, William Edwin Bruce, Jr. grew up in Memphis Tennessee, where he began working with legendary producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records at age 17 and, later, at other record labels, most notably RCA, and MCA writing songs for other singers throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Beginning in 1988, Bruce shifted his professional focus from songwriting to acting, appearing in several made-for-TV movies. His most notable role was that of “Tom Guthrie” on the NBC series “Bret Maverick” from 1981-82, which starred James Garner, after which Bruce returned to his music career.

 

On AFTER HOURS, the songs range from sweet, sad and somber to humorous and uplifting. Though he was unmistakably a country music artist, at least four songs on the album cross over into other genres.

 

With a spirited Mexican feel, “Who Wrote Her Name On the Wall” has Bruce questioning the truth about the woman he loves, after finding her name written “on the wall, up there by the mirror in the corner by the stall.” The happy-sounding, up-tempo melody belies the singer’s disheartened realization that he is apparently not the only man in his lover’s life.

 

Both “Never Thought About You” and “After Hours” are mellow, smooth-jazz songs that could sound as fitting in a hotel lounge as in a country-music bar. In the title track, Bruce contemplates how “It’s hard to think it’s over / What happened to forever? / I thought forever meant I’d never be alone…”

 

“The Things I Couldn’t See” is a mid-tempo, classic Nashville-sound song reflecting on a lost love: “Have you seen those arms that used to hold me? / Have you seen those lips that used to thrill me? / Have you seen the heart that used to only love just me? / Then you’ve seen the things I couldn’t see...”

 

“Good Jelly Jones” is a bluesy ballad about a man who skirts the law to support his wife and kids: “They used to call Good Jelly Jones ‘Big Evil’ / But Mama dressed good and the kids had enough to eat / Now Good Jelly had him a barbecue joint just a block from the general hospital / If you was hungry he’d put you on the cuff for a plank of ribs / If you went dry but you had the money / You could buy a little taste from Big Evil on Sunday.”

 

“The Feel of Bein’ Gone” is a slow, sad song about a man who fears his wife might be planning to leave: “Early in the morning she’ll be leaving / To visit with her mother for a spell / But I know that’s really not the reason / ‘Cause I know what she’s doing all too well.”

 

“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is, arguably, Ed Bruce’s best-known composition, which became a megahit for Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. The version on AFTER HOURS is a recording of the song on the TV show “Larry’s Country Diner.” Unlike other songs on AFTER HOURS, this recording is the raw original, of just Ed and his guitar, giving listeners a sense of the simplicity of a newly written song that would later become a classic.

 

“Homecoming 1945” is a poignant song about wounded soldiers who form a musical band after World War II. The lyrics are in the form of a conversation between two buddies returning home: “I sure have missed that good home cooking / Say, what are you doin’ after the war? / Thompson said ‘I don’t know, with this scar on my neck that got me my purple heart / I can’t sing anymore / But I’m dyin’ to get my hands on that old guitar’…”

 

“They Don’t Play Double Headers Anymore” has Bruce reminiscing about days gone by, when neighborhoods were safe and people were more patriotic: “I wish things were like they were before / When we knew where we stood and what for / And little kids said ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ / We gave a damn for Uncle Sam / But they don’t play double-headers anymore.”

 

“The Outlaw (A Tribute to Waylon Jennings)” is essentially one now-departed musician paying homage to another: “They called him an outlaw / He wasn’t their kind / But he done it his way without walkin’ the line / God bless the outlaw and thanks for the music my friend…”

 

“Outrun the Wind” is an inspiring song about self-confidence and not giving up on one’s dreams: “Sometimes he’s not sure he’s not crazy / That’s just because sometimes someone says he is / But like him or not, he’s still his own man / He’s just tryin’ to outrun the wind.”

 

The album ends, fittingly, with “Old Timer,” which sounds as if it may have been intended as a self-penned obituary: “There’s a gold record that hangs on the wall in his den / ‘Cause he once wrote a big song that reached number one / Had a chance for a Grammy back then / But that was a long time ago / They’ve forgotten a new hat’s a rockin’ the boat / So he sits in the sun and he sings to the one / Who inspired all those love songs he wrote.”

 

I have lots of  good memories of spending time with  Ed playing and listening to songs on his back porch, always followed by food,” Morgan said. “This album is a way of paying tribute to a great songwriter and an even greater friend.”    

 

AFTER HOURS by Ed Bruce on Music Row Talent Records (MRT) and through most digital platforms. Physical CDs are available by sending a check for $16 to Old Hat Productions, 80 Highland Drive, Jackson, OH 45640-2074.

 

  1. What’s a Girl Like You Not Doin’ Here
  2. Who Wrote Her Name On The Wall
  3. After Hours
  4. Like You Like Me
  5. Never Thought About You
  6. The Things I Couldn’t See
  7. Good Jelly Jones
  8. The Feel of Bein’ Gone
  9. Mama’s Quilt
  10. Homecoming 1945
  11. Never Did Get Close Enough
  12. They Don’t Play Double Headers Anymore
  13. Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
  14. The Outlaw (Tribute to Waylon Jennings)
  15. Outrun the Wind
  16. Old Timer

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1 comment:

Terri Mash said...

He had a great feeling for life. He could touch your soul with his words.

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