This is the grave of Jerry Chesnut.
Born in 1931 in Harlan County, Kentucky, Chesnut moved to Nashville in 1958 to make it in the country music industry. Like so many aspiring performers, he really didn’t have it what it took to be a big star. But he was a very good songwriter and that was (and remains) a way that people can make a pretty good living in Nashville, as unlike rock and roll with its emphasis on front men (usually) who also write their own material, there is no shame in using songwriters there. He struggled along for a good long while, until in 1967 Del Reeves recorded his “A Dime at a Time,” a charting hit. The next year, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded Chesnut’s “Another Place, Another Time,” which was nominated for a Grammy. Chesnut became a pretty go-to songwriter for the next several years after this. Johnny Cash did well with his song “Oney,” which is not a particular favorite of mine, but whatever. In 1970, George Jones hit #2, with “A Good Year for the Roses,” which is perhaps Chesnut’s most famous song. Elvis Costello hit #6 with a cover of this in 1981 and it has been recorded by a wide variety of artists in the years since then. In 1971, Faron Young had his first #1 hit in 10 years with Chesnut’s “It’s Four in the Morning.” In 1972, Chesnut was named Billboard’s Songwriter of the Year and then the 1973 International Songwriter of the Year. Elvis recorded a few of Chesnut’s songs in the aftermath, on his later and largely unfortunate albums. In the 1970s, Chesnut also became a regular of Hee Haw, an abomination of a show, but hey, it made a lot of talented country music people a lot of money. In 1992, he was named to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died in 2015, at the age of 87.
Let’s listen to a few of the songs Chesnut wrote.
Jerry Chesnut is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.
This grave visit was supported by LGM reader contributions. As always, many thanks! If you would like this series to cover some of the people who recorded Chesnut’s songs, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Johnny Cash is in Hendersonville, Tennessee and Elvis Presley is in Memphis. Previous posts in this series are archived here.