Chris Knight Charles Wesley Godwin
Harry Ilyer

Rooted in Country: Charles Wesley Godwin on Chris Knight's 'Nothing on Me'

In line with the vivid, world-building songwriting on his new album How the Mighty Fall, Charles Wesley Godwin left no detail forsaken when Wide Open Country asked him to name a particular song and artist that shaped his sound.

As Godwin tells it, country songwriting genius and John Prine disciple Chris Knight did more than inspire Godwin's creative palette with "Nothing on Me," a track from Knight's 2012 album Little Victories. Knight's song deserves credit for How the Mighty Fall and its critically-acclaimed predecessor, 2019's Seneca, existing.

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Read on for Godwin's vivid story of how a musical evangelist saved one of the most promising careers in the country, folk and Americana spaces.

Charles Wesley Godwin on Chris Knight

I'll never forget the day I was headed down to Bluefield, WV to play a bar gig. My old band, Union Sound Treaty, had just fallen to pieces a couple weeks before. That was two years of all-out effort pretty much down the drain. I felt like I was completely starting over. I knew I was spinning my wheels and I didn't know what to do about it. For the first time I felt like it was okay to quit "music" professionally. I remember this thought coming into my head and it was comforting. After all, I thought I'd made a really good go of it. I could visualize myself happy without playing music, maybe just teaching history. I'd have off every hunting season, get to fish in the summers and lay down in my own bed every night.

Then I turned on some Chris Knight. "Nothing on Me" came on from his album, Little Victories, and it gave me comfort. It got me fired up. To be honest, I could have run through a brick wall in that moment. I told myself, "I ain't goin' out like this. Not yet. Keep going."

And I did. I kept going for the rest of the year. I started making my first solo album, Seneca, at the end of that year. I hung on for another 18 months just scraping by, by the thinnest of margins. Then Seneca came out and my life changed. I became a legit touring, working musician.

Had I chosen to listen to someone else in that moment years ago, I may have stuck with that comfortable little train of thought I was on. The peace and certainty it gave me was very attractive. I have to imagine if it weren't for Chris Knight, I probably would have hung it up. I got to tell him that in a much more brief way a couple years ago at the Cumberland Mountain Music Festival when I finally met him.

I take a class in songwriting from Chris every time I listen to him. He's a huge influence on my work and as I just said, maybe the reason why I'm still doing what I do. When you listen to How the Mighty Fall, I think you'll hear a little bit of Chris' influence in there and I'm proud to say it.