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10 Great Songs You Didn’t Know Mel Tillis Wrote

From recordings by Kenny Rogers to George Strait, here are the best tunes penned by the prolific songwriter, who died Sunday at 85

Mel Tillis

Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis, who died November 19th, was responsible for writing some of country's most indelible songs.

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Mel Tillis, who died Sunday at 85, was known to the casual country fan for being a guy who cracked good-natured jokes about his stutter on Hee Haw, but he was also responsible for writing some of the genre’s most indelible songs. While the Country Music Hall of Fame member enjoyed his own run of hits as a singer and performer, his many contributions as a songwriter kept his work on numerous charts over a period of more than four decades. From his early work with honky-tonk hero Webb Pierce to later recordings by George Strait and Ricky Skaggs, Tillis proved he had a knack for mixing humor with heartbreak, fitting true-to-life scenarios with expertly crafted melodies that were recorded again and again. Here are 10 of his finest.

Mel Tillis

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Webb Pierce, “I’m Tired” (1957)

Clocking in under two minutes, “I’m Tired” is a fine example of Tillis’ mastery of economy. Webb Pierce released his single version in 1957, and his lonesome hillbilly whine is a natural fit for the exhausted, heartbroken character at the center of the story. In three short verses, he moves from searching, to hoping against all odds, to bitter and despondent. “Oh Lord, I’m tired of living this old way,” he sighs in the refrain, and we know better than to expect some happy resolution at the end. J.F.