BIG AL ANDERSON
Big Al’s songwriting career Al Anderson has in recent years emerged as one of Nashville’s most dependable tunesmiths, churning out an impressive string of irresistibly catchy, organically gritty hits for the likes of The Mavericks (“All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down”), Trisha Yearwood (“Powerful Thing”), LeAnn Rimes (“Big Deal”), Diamond Rio (“Unbelievable”), Carlene Carter (“Every Little Thing”) and Hal Ketchum (“Fall In Love Again”). Indeed, Anderson’s compositions have been recorded by an impressively broad array of acts, including Tim McGraw, Alabama, Wynonna, Deana Carter, Lonestar, Shenandoah, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aaron Tippin, Neal McCoy, Asleep at the Wheel, Etta James, K.T. Oslin, Sara Evans, Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker,Chris LeDoux, Deborah Allen, Ty England, Sammy Kershaw, Billy Ray Cyrus, Confederate Railroad, T. Graham Brown, Joe Diffie, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Neal McCoy, Rhonda Vincent, Stacy Dean Campbell, Lari White, Jason Sellers, Robbie Fulks and Olivia Newton-John.
Though he’s risen to the level of Nashville royalty in recent years, Anderson was well known to rock fans long before he stormed the country charts. He first made his mark as singer, guitarist and main writer of the Connecticut foursome the Wildweeds, who scored a substantial regional hit in 1967 with his composition “No Good to Cry,” and subsequently in a 24-year stint with the beloved cult band NRBQ. Over the course of a dozen or so NRBQ albums, Anderson contributed numerous memorable tunes, and was celebrated equally for his stellar instrumental work; in 1993, Musician magazine named him one of the Top 100 guitar players of the century. At the end of 1993, Big Al shocked NRBQ’s fans by exiting the hard-touring band to concentrate on working behind the scenes as a songwriter. Anderson says the decision to quit had more to do with embracing sobriety than any dissatisfaction with the legendarily eclectic band.
Anderson had actually begun going to Nashville to co-write in the mid-’80s, and Hank Williams Jr. recorded his “You’re Gonna Be A Sorry Man” in 1988, but it wasn’t until after leaving NRBQ that he began pursuing the life of a professional songwriter in earnest. His transition from road warrior to pro tunesmith began when he and Carlene Carter co-wrote “Every Little Thing,” which became the biggest hit of Carter’s career. Anderson followed that success with another Carter collaboration, “Something Already Gone,” for the Maverick film soundtrack, and hasn’t looked back since.
Anderson has also found himself in demand as a session player for the inventive guitar chops he honed during his years on the road, and his distinctively gruff vocals have been tapped for numerous commercial jingles. But it’s his writing talents that are his main focus these days.