Nashville songwriter Jerry Chesnut, whose songs were recorded by dozens of artists including Elvis Costello and Elvis Presley, as well as George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, died Saturday in Nashville. He was 87.
A native of Loyall in Kentucky’s Harlan County, Chesnut had his first hit, “A Dime at a Time,” cut by Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves in 1958. Of his best-known songs, “A Good Year for the Roses” was a 1971 Number Two smash for George Jones and gained an entirely new audience in the early Eighties when Elvis Costello recorded it for the Billy Sherrill-produced Almost Blue LP. Jones would record it again as a duet with Alan Jackson in 1994.
Another of his best-known tunes, the bluesy “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” (not to be confused with Leiber and Stoller’s “Trouble”) was a 1975 pop-country single for Elvis Presley and would later be a 1992 hit for Travis Tritt. Chesnut also penned “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy,” a 1974 single for Loretta Lynn, while Jerry Lee Lewis earned a Grammy nomination for Chesnut’s 1968 “Another Place, Another Time.”
In 2009, Chesnut was the subject of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s prestigious salute to iconic songwriters, Poets & Prophets, during which he said, “I’ve written great songs after 10 a.m., but they weren’t hits… I’ve never written a hit after 10 o’clock in the morning.” Proof of that theory is the 1972 Number One hit he wrote for Faron Young: “It’s Four in the Morning.”
Chesnut was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996.