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100 Greatest Men: #72. Vern Gosdin

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Vern Gosdin took a long and winding road to Nashville, but once he got there, he became one of the most significant traditional voices of his generation.

Born and raised in Alabama, Gosdin sang gospel with his family as a child.  After a brief time in Chicago, Gosdin moved to California in the early sixties.  As part of the West Coast country scene, he was one of the Hillmen alongside Chris Hillman, who would later be part of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Desert Rose Band.

Gosdin then formed a duo with his brother Rex.  As the Gosdin Brothers, they had a minor hit with “Hangin’ On” in 1967.   After a brief retirement in the first half of the seventies, Gosdin launched a solo career with the same single, and it went higher on the charts, thanks to harmony vocals provided by Emmylou Harris.

Gosdin had the classic journeyman experience as a Nashville recording artist, scoring hits for several different labels in the late seventies and throughout the eighties.  He became known as the Voice, and influenced not only the singers that came after him, but even some of his peers of the time.   In the late eighties, he reached a new career peak with Columbia Records, scoring eight top ten hits, with two #1 singles among them.

The absolute highlight of his tenure at Columbia was the award-winning “Chiseled in Stone.” Thought it didn’t hit the top five, it became Gosdin’s signature song and powered the veteran singer to his first gold record.   His epic 1989 album Alone is often cited as his strongest work, as it was written in the wake of his failing marriage.

Gosdin didn’t have commercial success after leaving Columbia, but he did continue to record and perform up until his death in 2009.   Stars like George Strait and Brad Paisley have since covered Gosdin tracks, and he is often cited as an influence among up and coming traditionalist singers.

Essential Singles:

  • Till the End, 1977
  • Today My World Slipped Away, 1982
  • If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do it Right), 1983
  • I Can Tell by the Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight), 1984
  • Set ‘Em Up Joe, 1988
  • Chiseled in Stone, 1988

Essential Albums:

  • till the End, 1977
  • Today My World Slipped Away, 1982
  • If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do it Right), 1983
  • Chiseled in Stone, 1988
  • Alone, 1989

Next: #71. Johnny Paycheck

Previous: #73.  Tennessee Ernie Ford

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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