Puremusic interview with Tommy Womack

The Lord works in mysterious ways, they say. Certainly seems to be so in the life of this preacher's son.

Tommy Womack is one of the few classic rock and roll musicians of Nashville, and he's rising quickly above the radar in a surprising moment. He's a veteran of significant acts like Government Cheese (he published an underground book about those years on the road, Cheese Chronicles: The True Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band You've Never Heard of) and the Bis-quits. He subsequently released several solo records, always to critical acclaim. But it's never been an easy road.

His wife Beth had a series of good jobs in the media, so they got by, with their young son. But when her situation changed, Tommy was forced to pick up his first "real" job; in his early forties, that put him through changes. Although a writer of many very funny songs, he was no stranger to depression; in fact, he had been plagued by it at various periods of his life. A couple of years back he had a nervous breakdown.

He started to write about the depression in his blog online, and even decided to quit the music business altogether, finally just hang it up. A line appeared in a blog that would become a song that would start to turn his life around: "I'm never gonna be a rock star. There, I said it."

But in this period, the careers of several of his friends were on the rise, notably Todd Snider (also interviewed in this issue) and Will Kimbrough. Todd took Tommy out on bass for some dates. His longtime association with both of these artists started to put some solo dates on the books for him and his day job began to be augmented by weekend gigs.

He'd started writing songs in a new confessional voice about what was really going on inside himself, the disillusionment with his failed career and the dread his job created on a daily basis. He made a record called There, I Said It, and started playing the songs live. And people started reacting to the truth and the honesty that were standing side by side the funny songs, and the gigs started increasing, and radio started to play the record. Now his day job is part time, and the gigs are getting more full time. And telling the truth in a way that artists rarely seem to do has been an unpredictable catalyst. It's moving people. We love this new record, and we really dig Tommy Womack. Check him out both in this conversation and on the Listen page. Buy this CD, and see if the truth doesn't set you free, too.