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Appalachian Attitude Audio: new biography on Morgan Co. songwriter Paul Gilley

Appalachian Attitude Audio: new biography on Morgan Co. songwriter Paul Gilley

App Attitude 6/25

Appalachian Attitude, for those of you uninitiated, is WMMT’s weekly program with an Appalachian attitude.  Every Monday from 4-6 p.m., hosts Wiley Quixote and Pam Shingler bring you local music and literature along with live interviews with musicians, writers, artists, and interesting Appalachians of all sorts from throughout our region.  This past Monday, June 25, Pam Shingler conducted a phone interview with Lynn Nickell of Morgan County, Ky., the author of a brand-new book about a little-known but nonetheless fascinating Kentucky native: Paul Gilley.

A native of Morgan County himself, Paul Gilley is credited with writing some of the 20th century’s most famous songs, including two made famous by none other than Hank Williams, Sr.: “Cold, Cold Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”  He also wrote many other tunes that Hank Sr. recorded, and had many other songs made famous by other artists, such as “If Teardrops Were Pennies” (Carl Smith), “When Stars Get In Your Eyes” (Perry Como), “Crazy Arms” (Ray Price), and many, many more.  Sadly, Gilley drowned at the age of just 27, and over the years his story had been largely forgotten.  Nickell has worked to bring Gilley’s story to light, however, both in releasing this brand-new biography, Ghost Writer in the Sky, as well as in helping to plan a festival dedicated to his memory, Paul Gilley Day, which was held June 9 in Maytown, Ky.

In this 40-minute interview, Mr. Nickell discusses this brand-new biography, delving into many details of Paul Gilley’s brief-but-fascinating life and career.  For a copy of the book, you can write to Lynn Nickell at 440 Riverside Drive, West Liberty, KY 41472 or to [email protected]


3 Responses to “Appalachian Attitude Audio: new biography on Morgan Co. songwriter Paul Gilley”

  1. I am a family member (cousin) of Dee Gibbs, and I would like to purchase a copy of both Ghost Writer in the Sky and Gilley, as well as the print by Dee Gibbs. Thank you in advance for your help.

  2. Raymond Dotson

    Paul and I attended Morehead State College, Morehead KY, (Now Morehead University) and a group of us often enjoyed Paul’s music before he sent the lyrics to Hank Williams. I distinctly remember the day we sat in “the grill” and heard him read “I overlooked an orchid”. I’m sure that was the first time anyone had heard the words. I left Morehead in 1954 to join the Air Force and never saw him again. I just now found out about his untimely death. He was always kind and generous to everyone.

  3. Ray Dotson

    Concerning my previous comment above.. I cannot understand why more of Paul’s classmates and friends from Morehead State (MSC) have not commented on this matter. Paul was our friend and we admired his poetic abilities in those days. We knew he was selling his compositions to Mr. Williams and others while receiving no actual recognition for his efforts but making others rich and famous. So please speak up! Add your story. We all owe it to Paul’s memory and almost forgotten existence.


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