Songwriter Richard Dobson, once called “The Hemingway of country music,” died Saturday at the age of 75.
Dobson was born in Tyler, Texas in 1942. A contemporary of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Guy Clark, Dobson appeared in the 1975 country music documentary Heartworn Highways alongside other pioneers of the outlaw country movement.
Dobson is the author of “Piece of Wood and Steel,” “Hole in My Heart,” and “Forever, for Always, for Certain,” which you can hear him singing in Heartworn Highways.
A prolific writer, Dobson wrote literature as well as music. Gulf Coast Boys and Pleasures of the High Rhine are two autobiographical pieces he penned.
Dobson penned charting songs for the likes of Johnny Cash, June Carter, David Allan Coe and Guy Clark.
His nickname, “the Hemingway of country music” came from singer Nanci Griffith, who cut his song “The Ballad of Robin Wintersmith.” John Prine once described him as “one of the best songwriters in Nashville… make that the United States.”
Dobson moved to Nashville in 1971, and spent the next three decades moving back and forth between Tennessee and his home state of Texas.
“Occasionally people ask me if I’ve been able to make a living at this business,” Dobson wrote on his website. “I’ve always answered that while you couldn’t call it a living, I wouldn’t trade the life.”
Dobson moved to Switzerland with his wife in 1999 and has been releasing new albums consistently over the years. The most recent, Gulf Coast Tales, dropped in 2014.