Recommended if You Like
John Prine Neil Young (sometimes) Robert Earl Keen

Genres You Will Love
Moods: Mood: Funny Country: Americana Folk: Singer/Songwriter

By Location
United States - Tennessee

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Ty Hager

For as long as songwriters have been plying their craft, it's been understood that music – particularly country music – is a serious business. For songwriter Ty Hager, it usually comes out funny. And sometimes it comes out as a novel. Or an opera.

Hager has been at it practically since birth... making people laugh, and then think, and then laugh again. Born in Oceanside, California, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he immediately began turning Steinbeck upside-down.* When he first began strumming a guitar, the words came out twisted into the truth. Really now… who hasn't blamed Keith Partridge for unrealistic dreams of rock and roll glory, while wondering what effect catnip might have those dreams?

Hager's first turn onstage was as a stand-up comic in Nashville in the late 1980's (even appearing on national TV), before he turned his focus to songwriting – albeit much of it goofy songwriting. He struggled at that for twenty years – writing hundreds of songs and playing hundreds of shows – before landing a deal with Winthrop Records in 2002. He recorded two CDs - "Funny Ha Ha, Funny Strange" and "Songs About Life and Girls (but mostly girls)" – over the next five years with Winthrop. As the president of the label put it, “I reveled in his individuality and originality. This quiet, self-effacing artist… is a gem.”

Harlan Howard would be proud to know that an Okie from California took his sage words so fully to heart: all you need is three chords and the truth. Who could argue with “things would sure be different, if things were different?”

The Nashville Rage declared Hager “Side-splitting.” Peter Cooper of The Tennessean called him “gloriously weird… smart and funny.” And The Maryville Daily Times said, “Reminiscent of John Prine, Bob Dylan, Robert Earl Keen, and even Jimmy Buffet.” Yes, he's been compared with the legendary John Prine.**

Basically, he's John Prinebeck.

Hager's band, “Ty Hager and the Cowtippers,” has been together, the apart, then together again for over 25 years. The same fellows keep getting herded together to play Hager's odd assortment of musical treasures, despite Hager's migration to Austin, back to Nashville, to Tulsa, and back to Nashville again. There's just something magical that makes the boys want to stick with this particular bard.

Hager moved back to Oklahoma in 2008, where he spent the next eight years hosting morning radio shows, and producing and hosting a show on the American Forces Radio Network. In 2012 he wrote a novel, "Diary of a Dead Guy," about a murdered country singer channeling his memoirs through a 12-year-old redneck kid. He also compiled transcripts of his interviews with hit country songwriters (from the aforementioned AFRN show) into "Nashville Songsmiths," which is now also available as an audio book.

And in 2017, having relocated to Nashville yet again, Hager began to develop that aforementioned novel into a country-comedy opera. Yes, an opera.***

2018 is looking bright for the comic-turned-songwriter-turned-novelist-turned-opera-composer. His newfound sobriety (16 months as of this writing) hasn't dimmed the wit that brought us “Our Boy And Bubba” and “Seven Shallow Graves.” If anything, it's shining more brilliantly than ever.

- Steve Goodie, Jan 2018

* Because one would normally be expected to migrate from Oklahoma to California, you see.

** Favorably.

*** No one else was going to do it, you see.