This on-the-verge musician proves that old-school songwriting is alive and well in Nashville.

Thad Cockrell
When he's not performing solo, Thad Cockrell can be found playing with his new band, Leagues.
| Credit: Jeremy Cowart

Thad Cockrell is a tough musician to pin down because he's so good at so many styles. His 2008 To Be Loved runs the Nashville gamut: honky-tonk detours, straightforward guy-and-guitar stuff, and a take on Gospel music that Neil Young would appreciate. Meeting the humble (and hilarious) musician confirms what his songs suggest. "I want to write songs I don't know how to write," he says. "That's when I know I'm close to the good stuff."

Listen to Our Favorite Songs

His Nashville Hero:
"I'm not sure I've had a more important teacher musically than Willie Nelson's body of work."

Wishes He Had Written:
Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" (written by the band)

Next Up:
An album with his Nashville-based band, Leagues. He also hopes to write more crowd-pleasing, sing-along songs. "Our generation needs its ‘Lean on Me.' "