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Taylor uses so much ice when her husband's out of town. Riley in 1968, it freed Hall to record his own work, which included songs about burying a man who owed him 40 dollars, mourning the death of the local hero who taught him how to drink and play guitar, and "Trip to Hyden," a journalistic tale of a drive to the scene of a mining disaster that was part Woody Guthrie, part Studs Turkel. When Elvis Presley recorded one of his songs, the result was 1956's epochal "Don't Be Cruel," which was simultaneously Number One on the pop, R&B and country charts.
One of Nashville's most overtly political songwriters, he was a liberal who recorded "Watergate Blues" and turned a drink in a bar after the 1972 Democratic convention into a Number One country hit called "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine." "I couldn't write the 'Darling, you left alone and blue' or 'I'm drunk in this bar and crying' [songs]— I just didn't get it," he once said. Blackwell subsequently gave Elvis "All Shook Up" and "Return to Sender," and wrote a cluster of hits for other artists, including "Great Balls of Fire" for Jerry Lee Lewis.
Taylor Swift reached that peak before she turned 21. She might be the youngest artist on this list — as you may have heard, she was born in 1989, the year Green Day released their first record.
But she's already written two or three careers' worth of keepers.
But that multiplatinum triumph was just the tip of the iceberg: Australian brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb were massively successful songwriters for decades.
Elton John has called them "a huge influence on me as a songwriter"; Bono has said their catalog makes him "ill with envy." The Bee Gees' earliest hits ("New York Mining Disaster 1941," "To Love Somebody") were melancholy psychedelia, and their first U. Number One single, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," was promptly covered by Al Green.
Maybe it's his family's blue-collar background or the years he spent delivering mail before becoming a full-time musician.
But John Prine has always had the innate ability to emphatically capture the highs, lows and occasional laughs of everyday Americans and fringe characters: the drug-addled vet in "Sam Stone," the lonely older folks in "Angel from Montgomery" and "Hello in There." One of a group of early Seventies singer-songwriters to get pegged with the unfortunate tag "New Dylan," Prine has written poignant songs of romantic despair ("Speed of the Sound of Loneliness"), songs that sound like centuries-old mountain ballads ("Paradise") and ribald comic masterpieces aimed at advice columns and various crazies.
(Only she could slip the line "Any snide remarks from my father about your tattoos will be ignored" into a teen romance like "Ours.") But she's really hit her stride with the pop mastery of Red and 1989, especially on confessional ballads like "Clean" and "All Too Well." There's no limit to where she can go from here."You write a song about something that you think might be taboo, you sing it for other people and they immediately recognize themselves in it," Prine says. You admit everything that's wrong and you talk about it in the sharpest terms, in the keenest way you can." "Back then, I just wanted to write songs I could be proud of and be able to play in five years," Billie Joe Armstrong said last year of his attitude while creating Green Day's 1994 pop-punk breakthrough Dookie.