For several years, Paul Overstreet has wanted to record the hit songs he has written for other country stars, but he hesitated to undertake such a project while still obligated to a major record label.
During his tenure on the RCA artist roster in the '80s and early '90s, Overstreet enjoyed success with singles such as "Seein' My Father in Me" and "Daddy's Come Around."
Alone or with co-writers, Overstreet also has created career songs for some of his peers. He has two Grammys, two CMA Awards and five BMI Songwriter of the Year awards to show for it.
Overstreet penned many of Randy Travis's biggest hits, including "On the Other Hand," "Diggin' Up Bones" and "Forever and Ever, Amen." Country fans also will know "When You Say Nothing at All," made famous by Keith Whitley and later Alison Krauss, and "Same Ole Me," a chart-topper for George Jones.
Overstreet's own renderings of these songs, plus seven others, appear on a new CD, A Songwriters' Project: Volume 1, released nationally on his own label, Scarlet Moon Records.
"On the road, people told me they wanted a copy of me singing this song or that song," Overstreet says. "I always wanted to get around to making this album, but I've been busy and I was signed to a major label. I knew at a major label it would just end up on a shelf somewhere. They wouldn't see it as important. I really wanted to do this project for historical documentation."
The prolific tunesmith has enough leftovers for a second volume, for which he imminently plans to record originals such as "The Battle Hymn of Love" (which Kathy Mattea cut), "My Arms Stay Open All Night" (Tanya Tucker) and "You're Still New to Me" (Paul Davis and Marie Osmond).
Overstreet, whose most recent songwriting success is Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," has plans to expand his label. The company, distributed through Navarre, will sign and release albums by artists like Overstreet, former major label artists who have written a significant number of songs for others.
"There are some writers that I am really interested in pulling into this project, because I admire them so much and I would love to hear them do their own songs," Overstreet explains. "I think fans would like that, too. I love to put on recordings of great writers performing their own songs. It's like, 'Wow, isn't this nice.' It is not manufactured hype - all that big production - it's simply great songs.
"There are some great songs currently on country radio, but right now the industry is more driven by production than songs. The vocals sound great; everything is in tune; and when you hear it 10 years from now, it won't move you because there is not a lot in the song."