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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Howard


Harlan Perry Howard may not be a household name, but I bet you know some of his songs. Being an introvert, Harlan didn’t relish the spotlight. Yet, he wanted his simple, three-chord songs to shine like diamonds and linger in the hearts and minds of those who heard them. Harlan spent his life as a wordsmith. He panned words for great titles like gold miners pan for gold. His goal was to write songs that transcended time. I like to think he accomplished that goal. Iconic songs like, “Heartaches By The Numbers,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Busted,” “Tiger By The Tail,” “Why Not Me,” and “Blame It On Your Heart” are just a glimpse of his genius. His songs are ingrained in the psyche of American popular music.

Harlan’s three-minute vignettes center on life, love or the lack thereof. They are snippets from his colorful life; words on paper, made memorable by their melodies. Lyrics and melodies meant to elicit an emotional response. Country music touched Harlan as a lonely foster boy; he spent his life trying to repay the favor.

Harlan is noted for saying his music is “three chords and the truth.” I’d say that was also his motto in life. He was a simple man with a kind heart and a kind word for his fellowman.

Though he is known for writing many standards in the country genre, his songs have crossed over into other genres such as popular music, rhythm and blues, folk and bluegrass. His accolades are many but as a humble man, Harlan was more intrigued by his next song. With more than 4000 songs to his credit, his body of work is unparalleled.

Harlan was inducted in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973; BMI Song of the Year 1994, “Blame It On Your Heart;” Country Music Hall of Fame, 1997; Songwriters Hall of Fame, 1997.

His legacy of songs continue today nearly twenty years after his passing in 2002. I think Harlan would be proud to know his catalog is alive and well, thriving, in fact.

For more information on the legacy of Harlan Perry Howard, please visit: or find us on Facebook at Harlan Howard Songs or Harlan Howard Records.

📷 “I Fall To Pieces” Gareth Dunlop

Contact: Melanie Smith Howard

Harlan Howard Songs, Inc.

(615) 321-9098

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