It was a calling. That's the only way to describe the spiritual lure that country music had on Wayne Scott as a young boy growing up in the small Kentucky town of Cranes Nest. When he discovered country music, it satisfied his soul in a way that nothing had before or has since. Every Saturday night, he listened to the Grand Ole Opry, and still does. As he grew older he found patron saints-Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Lefty Frizzell-whose songs would reveal the mystery and majesty of the heartbreak and hope found in the musical format that would shape his life.
"My family was slightly musical," he says. "Everybody could play something, but I think I had a disease of it. I was born to want to play and sing."
As a teenager he began to write songs, often skipping school or social events to go off into the woods alone where he would write and practice guitar. Never a fan of school, he left home at sixteen and followed an older brother to Michigan.
"I couldn't take this rural route no more. I went to Michigan to build cars and get rich. I hated that job. I went from there to the steel mills in Indiana before I finally made it out to California."
Music was always an integral part of his life, but he often kept his talents to himself. He always had a pen handy to jot down song ideas. It was on the West Coast, at 40 years old, that Wayne finally put a band together and began playing in dusty taverns and roadhouses all over California. That's where his sons, Denny, Dale, Darrell, Don, and David, were indoctrinated in the ways of country music. They played in his band and learned to share their father's joy in making music. It's something that stuck with them-they all became professional musicians.
He played the West Coast circuit for almost twenty years and wrote songs the entire time. But he never played his own songs in public. He gave the crowds what they wanted to hear and what he was paid to play-hits the audience knew and could dance to.
Wayne couldn't shake his need to write songs. It was and is his calling. It's the thing he was created to do.
"I've always compared songwriting to the night one of my sons was born," he says. "It's that kind of a high. To write a song and know that it says exactly what I want it to say is the nicest feeling. That's the best part of music to me. An encore or bright lights or your name in big letters on the marquee doesn't compare to finishing a song. There's also this remarkable release. It's like having a thorn removed from your side."
Wayne eventually moved back to his hometown. He'd come full circle. As he was settling back into rural life in Kentucky, his son, Darrell Scott, was becoming one of Nashville's most respected and successful songwriters and musicians.
Darrell, who learned to play guitar in his father's band, began writing hits for the likes of Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, Sara Evans and Patty Loveless. He learned a lot about country music through the great country songs his dad would sing and play around the house. He was almost grown before he realized that some of those songs, mixed in with tunes by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, were from his dad's pen.
One year Wayne made his son a songbook with over a hundred original compositions as a Christmas gift. Darrell recognized something special in his father's music. He wanted his father to record an album, but the elder Scott was reluctant. He was in approaching 70 and thought his time in the spotlight had passed. Darrell knew that his father had tapped into something elemental with his simple, emotionally direct songwriting style. He would not take no for an answer and eventually was able to get his dad in the studio to record the tracks that would become This Weary Way.
Wayne's debut album is remarkable in so many ways. It's the introduction of a compelling writer who's been honing his craft for over six decades. It's a traditional music masterpiece that harkens back to an era when country and gospel music were intrinsically intertwined. It comes from a man who understands country music, it's themes and the way it impacts everyday folks. Some of the finest musicians in Nashville, including Guy Clark, Dirk Powell, Tim O'Brien and Danny Thompson, have contributed there time and talent to this project.
This Weary Way is also a labor of love between a father and son.
"It was dream making this album with my son," says Wayne. "It couldn't have been a better experience working with him and all those great musicians. Those Nashville pickers, man, they are good. Sometimes we'd go through a song one time and they'd never miss a lick."
More than anything, this is an album that has been baptized in Wayne's lifelong love of country music. These songs have been sanctified by his commitment to the rich history and enduring importance of a distinctly American music form.
When Wayne is writing and singing about heartbreak ("It's The Whiskey That Eases The Pain"), family ("Sunday With My Son") and spirituality ("Since Jesus Came Into My Life"), he does it was a sincerity that's real and a conviction that's unshakable.
Those qualities make his music unmistakably country. Even more importantly they give him the ability to communicate intense feelings of love and loss in ways that resonate with a broad audience. He believes that music serves a higher purpose, that it helps people make it through the tough times. He writes what he believes and he believes in what he writes. That's the mark of a great songwriter. And Wayne Scott is a great songwriter.
Check out the artist's website:
1. It's the Whiskey That Eases the Pain
2. Sunday With My Son
3. The Writer
5. This Weary Way
6. I Wouldn't Live in Harlan County
7. When It's Raining After Midnight
8. In The Mountains
9. My Last Bottle of Wine
10. Crash on the Highway
11. Since Jesus Came into My Heart
12. What I Really Need Is You
13. Folsom Prison Blues