Bob McDill Is Now a Country Music Hall of Fame Songwriter

Songwriters are so integral to country music, there is a dedicated Hall of Fame in Nashville just for them. But every three years, the Country Music Hall of Fame proper takes time to recognize someone who has dedicated their life to the craft, and left a lasting impact. In 2023, that person is Bob McDill.

Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” Mel McDaniel’s “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” and Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country” are just some of the compositions Bob McDill is known for. They happen to be songs that country music is known for too. Without Bob McDill songs, what we think about country music would be something completely different. That’s how important his songs are, and how prolific of a songwriter he is.

“I am honored to join a handful of legendary songwriters who are in this Hall of Fame,” McDill said Monday morning (4-3) at the Hall of Fame press conference after being introduced by Vince Gill. “And thank you to the CMA and Hall of Fame for the voters looking beyond the spotlight, and seeing people like songwriters that are not famous.”

Born Robert Lee McDill, Bob grew up in Walden, Texas near Beaumont. He studied English at Lamar University and played in a band called The Newcomers. While serving time in the Navy, McDill became part of a troika of songwriters that also included Dickey Lee and Allen Reynolds who would would go on to amass an incredible catalog of songs, both separate and together in various combinations. They all moved to Nashville together in 1970, and began working for “Cowboy” Jack Clement.

At first McDill tried to make it as a performer and released the album Short Stories in 1972, which seeded singles later recorded by Don Williams and Johnny Russell. Don Williams would go on to record dozens of McDill songs over the years. Bobby Bare recorded a whole album of them in 1977 called Me and McDill. Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Waylon Jennings, Earl Thomas Conley, Doug Stone, Sammy Kershaw, John Anderson, Pam Tillis, and Daryle Singletary are just some of the many other names that recorded Bob McDill songs over a three decade span.

As dedicated songwriters went in Nashville, Bob McDill kept it country, even though he dabbled in rock and pop early in his career. In 2000, McDill could see the writing on the wall, and instead of struggling through the new school realities presenting themselves in Nashville, he simply hung it up and retired. In 2017, McDill showed up to the Country Music Hall of Fame with all of his notepads of songs, his awards, recordings, and anything else he had from his songwriting career, and donated it all. Now the Country Music Hall of Fame has a reason to display it.

Some country music fans remain frustrated at how difficult it is for their favorite artists to get into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and songwriter/performers such as Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, etc. have an even more difficult time getting in compared to the more pure behind-the-scenes songwriters like Bob McDill.

But perusing over the resume of Bob McDill, it’s hard to argue he doesn’t deserve Hall of Fame distinction. And like McDill said in his acceptance speech, he never had the big letters and bright lights behind him. That is what the Hall of Fame is for, to make sure these important country music contributors don’t go forgotten.

Bob McDill will be inducted with Modern Era inductee Patty Loveless, and Veteran’s Era inductee Tanya Tucker, in the Medallion Ceremony later this year.

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