Dennis Morgan and Harlan Howard
Harlan and Dennis were more than just writing pals, they were also friends. It was imperative to Harlan to be friends first. He disliked co-writing with complete strangers. In the early 2000’s, Harlan and I were sitting in his office. He was flogging his guitar and asked me if that sounded like anything he’d written before. I said, “it sounds like everything you’ve written!” He announced he was bored with his three chord melodies. I suggested it may be time to co-write. He scoffed at the idea but soon came around to it. Writing to Harlan was a solo project for most of his career. After more than 4000 songs and limited knowledge of the guitar, he conceded to the art of co-writing.
Dennis Morgan was an early co-writer. They had share meals and hockey games; therefore, Harlan felt he could let his guard down to co-write. A shy man doesn’t bare his soul easily but co-writing with Dennis was easy and fun. Dennis often picked Harlan up on his way into town and headed for his recording studio. Dennis was known to record the entire co-writing session, which is brilliant, I think. It shows how they arrived at the idea or title and how they framed the lyrics into a song. If you are not familiar with Dennis Morgan and his illustrious body of songs, I implore you to study him. His list of hits is immense.
Can you name a Dennis Morgan song? I can! In fact, the last song that Harlan ever wrote was with Dennis Morgan. The song is, “Sweet Jesus, You’ve Come Through Again. An appropriate last title, I think. Here is the Solomon Burke version that did not make the record, but worthy of a listen.
Written by: Melanie Smith-Howard
March 18, 2020
Listen to "Sweet Jesus, You've Come Through Again"