If one understands the historical depth and context of the singer-songwriter tradition in Houston -- and it was flourishing here long before it migrated to Austin or before a few (mostly Texan) outlaws started up a movement in Nashville -- it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that two of American Songwriter magazine's Top Fifty songs were written by local natives. However, big surprise -- Hayes Carll took the top slot with "Another Like You."
Popular New West Records artist Robert Ellis came in at Number 23 with "Friends Like These."
Carll, who was recently one of the candidates for Americana artist of the year at the Americana Music Association Convention, knocked it out of the park with his 2011 release KMAG YOYO and Other American Stories. Currently calling Austin home, Carll is a native son of The Woodlands who cut his songwriting teeth around Wrecks Bell at the Old Quarter Acoustic Café in Galveston.
Ellis's first New West release, Photographs, propelled him out on the road with acts like the Old 97s. Ellis was recently recognized at the Houston Press Music Awards where he took home Best Country, Best Songwriter, and Musician of the Year honors.
Ellis, who has been out opening some shows for John Doe, couldn't be reached for comment, but label honcho George Fontaine, who had only heard about Ellis's honor ten minutes earlier, told Rocks Off that "Friends Like These" was one of his favorite songs since he first heard it over a year ago as a demo.
"I had a friend who had a heart attack right as I first heard that song," said Fontaine, "and that one has just stuck with me all the way. It's very emotional and personal. I just wish it had made the Top Ten."