Hugh Prestwood

Induction Year: 2006

Birth Name: Hugh Loring Prestwood

Birth Date: 04-02-1942

Place of Birth: El Paso, Texas

Though based in New York City, Hugh Prestwood wrote literate, contemplative and emotionally compelling songs that made him a go-to composer for Nashville recording artists in the 1980s and '90s. Prestwood's top-charting songs include "The Sound of Goodbye" (Crystal Gayle), "The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder" (Michael Johnson) and "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart" (Randy Travis). He won a BMI Country Song of the Year Award for "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart" and a Nashville Songwriters Association International Song of the Year Award for "The Song Remembers When," a song about the power of song.

Born and raised in El Paso, Prestwood moved to New York City at age 30, in hopes of making it as a singer-songwriter. After two years, producer Alan Lorber heard a Prestwood song called "Dorothy," and Lorber sent the song to record producer Jim Ed Norman, who recorded it for a Jackie DeShannon album. A year later, folk star Judy Collins recorded "Dorothy" and helped Prestwood get a publishing deal as a staff songwriter.

Collins' 1979 version of Prestwood's "Hard Times for Lovers" was his first charting song (#16 on Billboard's adult contemporary chart), but after that most of Prestwood's major successes would be affiliated with Nashville artists. His first #1 country hit came when Crystal Gayle recorded "The Sound of Goodbye" in 1983, and that song was nominated for a Grammy. Prestwood's songs soon fell into favor with major Nashville recording artists. Because he usually wrote by himself at a time when co-writing was increasingly prevalent in Nashville, he retained a distinctive songwriting voice.

In 1990, Prestwood scored a Top 10 hit with Shenandoah's "Ghost in This House" — a song later recorded by Alison Krauss — and a #1 smash when Randy Travis recorded "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart." Both songs were Grammy-nominated. After that, he went through a dry spell and was discouraged when his ballad "The Song Remembers When" bounced around Nashville without finding a home. But more than two years after the song was written, Trisha Yearwood recorded it in a plaintive version produced by Garth Fundis. Prestwood visited Fundis' office and heard Yearwood's version for the first time: "As silly as it may sound ... I jumped out of my chair and said, ‘We're in the Hall of Fame!'" he later recounted. And he was correct. Prestwood's inevitable Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction came in 2006.
 

"Asking Us to Dance"

Kathy Mattea1991 #27 country
 

"Back When"

Vern Gosdin1993 #67 country
 

"Bing Bang Boom"

Highway 1011991 #14 country
 

"Dorothy"

Jackie DeShannon1977 
Judy Collins1979 
 

"Feed This Fire"

Highway 1011988 
Anne Murray1990 #5 country

"Ghost in This House"

Shenandoah1990 #5 country
Amanda McBroom1991 
Alison Krauss1999 
Hugh Prestwood2000 
Marty Raybon2003 

"Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart"

Randy Travis1990 #1 country
 

"Hard Times for Lovers"

Judy Collins1979 #16 adult contemporary, #66 pop
 

"I Just Can't Stand to Be Unhappy"

Baillie & The Boys1990 
Bobbie Cryner1995 #63 country
 

"My Heart Holds On"

Holly Dunn1985 #64 country
 

"On the Verge"

Collin Raye1997 #2 country
 

"Once I Was the Light of Your Life"

Stephanie Bentley1996 #60 country
 

"Roller Coaster Run (Up Too Slow, Down Too Fast)"

Michael Johnson1988 #52 country
 

"Smoke in Her Eyes"

Ty England1995 #44 country
 

"That's That"

Michael Johnson1988 #9 country
Marty Raybon1995 

"The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder"

Michael Johnson1987 #1 country
Jerry Jeff Walker1998 

"The Song Remembers When"

NSAI Song of the Year

Trisha Yearwood1993 #2 country, #82 pop
Emile Pandolfi1994 
Hugh Prestwood2000 
Kristin Chenoweth2005 

"The Sound of Goodbye"

Crystal Gayle1983 #1 country, #10 adult contemporary, #84 pop
 

"Under the Gun"

Suzy Bogguss1990 #72 country
 

"You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone"

Judy Rodman1985 #33 country

Hugh Prestwood

Induction Year: 2006