Charley Crockett Reflects On His Musical Journey: “I Went To Manhattan Because Of Bob Dylan”

Charley Crockett country music
Bobby Cochran

For many artists, signing a record deal is a double edged sword of sorts.

A deal often provides a somewhat consistent income in an otherwise volatile industry, and generally it’ll generate positive publicity and come with plenty of opportunities to make more music and perform. On the other hand, record deals can feel to some artists like they are signing away their creative liberties and ownership of their music, among other negative aspects.

It’s probably a good sign if an artist has the opportunity to consider a record deal. People in the industry see something special in them and recognize the trajectory they are on, yet artists still have to consider what is best for their career and their music, and the record deal isn’t always the answer.

Charley Crockett, one of the most unique artists on the country music scene, has a pretty interesting story about considering a record deal, and he took to Instagram over the weekend to share it.

“I remember walking away from a record deal in New York City after being discovered on a subway car almost 12 years ago.

The last time I was in these folks office they handed me a newspaper clipping out of the New York Times. It was an article celebrating the one hundredth birthday of Woody Guthrie. The woman said “that’s your problem right there. You just wanna be Woody Guthrie.”

It’s funny. There’s not a day goes by I don’t think of that. I didn’t show up in New York because of Woody, and I hadn’t been aware at the time that he’d played in the subway cars himself. See, I went to Manhattan because of Bob Dylan. He’s the reason I started writing songs.

I used to play at a place in Carrollton, TX run by this woman who was a self proclaimed witch. She had an old barn behind her house she called the Shanty. It was a kind of open mic, poetry reading, type of flophouse. I remember she had Dylan’s album “The Times They Are A-Changin” hanging on the wall in her kitchen.

I swear he was looking at me through that photo and telling me to go to New York City. And I did. In a round about sort of way. I hopped every train and hitched every ride a young man could in that era. Everything I know about music I learned from street corners, farm parties, and other travelers.

All these years later I love Bob Dylan more than ever. And if there’s such thing as an outlaw movement, he started it when they signed him to Columbia in 1961. But the thing is, and I’m sure Bob would tell you, he was looking at Woody Guthrie.

I woke up this morning remembering that my mother gave me this children’s song book when I was 7 years old. It came with a cassette tape and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” was on it. I don’t even remember what else was on there.

Anyway, all these years have gone by since that record executive told me I just wanted to be Woody. In a sense, it was the best advice anybody could have ever given me.

She was damn right, I just didn’t know it yet. And I’d like to thank her.”

Man, this guy has done it all, and has a pretty cool outlook on things. It shows in his music, too.

Check out a few of my favorite Charley Crockett tunes at the moment, while we are on the subject:

“In the Night” – In the Night (2016)

“The Man From Waco” – The Man From Waco (2022)

“I Need Your Love” – Music City USA (2021)

“Music City USA” – Music City USA (2021)

“All the Way from Atlanta” – The Man From Waco (2022)

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock