Roger Cook traces his life from austere beginnings in Bristol, England, to writing hits for Crystal Gayle, The Hollies, George Strait, and Don Williams, during this Poets and Prophets interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, held on October 5, 2013. Accompanying himself on ukulele, he also sings four of his best-known compositions.
Born in 1940, Cook grew up in a musical family that would often sing together for fun. He performed professionally in bands as a teenager, then made his name as a songwriter with “You Got Your Troubles.” In 1971, a song written for a Coca-Cola commercial evolved into a worldwide hit. In this program, Cook explains that he hated being so closely identified with that feel-good classic—titled “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”—but likes it a lot now, because of the money it’s earned.
Facing the end of a marriage, and with momentum from writing songs like “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” and “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress),” Cook decided to move to Nashville in 1975.
“I fell in love with the town and the musicians and the studios and the people and the characters,” he says. “They were larger than life, you know? I thought, ‘I could live there.’ And I have to say, I’d heard some songs that I fell in love with—Allen Reynolds songs, especially ‘Dreaming My Dreams,’ and Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene.’ . . . I thought, ‘I could live where songs like that are being written and produced.”
Early in the program, a film clip of Roger Cook singing “Love Is on a Roll” (recorded by Don Williams) on the “Bobby Bare and Friends” TV series is shown. Cook describes working with Cowboy Jack Clement and songwriters such as Roger Greenaway, Sam Hogin, Ralph Murphy, John Prine, and Bobby Wood. He also speaks about writing Crystal Gayle’s “Talking in Your Sleep,” a major country hit in 1978.
In between stories, Cook performs “I Just Want to Dance With You,” “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress),” and “I Believe in You,” recorded by George Strait, The Hollies, and Don Williams, respectively. He closes the program with “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
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