Songwriter Pat Alger—known for writing hits recorded by Garth Brooks and many others—performs and shares memories from his musical education and career, live in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Ford Theater.
Though Alger contributed significant hits to several artists, he made his biggest mark by co-writing four #1s for Brooks: “Unanswered Prayers,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “What She’s Doing Now,” and “That Summer.” During the November 2, 2019, program—part of the Museum’s songwriter-focused Poets and Prophets series—Alger talks about his path from the small town of LaGrange, Georgia, to his hit songwriting career in Nashville.
In his Georgia teens, Alger taught himself to play guitar and tried his hand at writing songs. He moved to Woodstock, New York, in the early 1970s, and joined the Woodstock Mountain Revue, a loose-knit group that included, at one time or another, John Sebastian, Paul Butterfield, Eric Andersen, Jim Rooney, Bill Keith, and Happy & Artie Traum.
By 1980, Alger had already garnered some songwriting success with Livingston Taylor’s recording of “First Time Love,” a Top Twenty adult-contemporary hit. He moved to Nashville the following year, and there, secured cuts by Nanci Griffith (“Once in a Very Blue Moon,” “Lone Star State of Mind”), Don Williams (“True Love”), Trisha Yearwood (“Like We Never Had a Broken Heart”), and Hal Ketchum (“Small Town Saturday Night”). Kathy Mattea scored hits with Alger’s “Goin’ Gone,” “She Came From Fort Worth,” and “A Few Good Things Remain.”
Alger’s relationship with Jim Rooney, tracing back to his days in Woodstock, eventually led to his introduction to Garth Brooks. The songwriter recounts their meeting, and how they wrote “That Summer” and “What She’s Doing Now.”
Alger also performs the latter song live with Kristin Smith, Jon Vezner, and Kirk “Jelly Roll” Johnson. Other performances include “Small Town Saturday Night,” “True Love,” and “Goin’ Gone,” accompanied by Mattea.
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