LINDE (1943 - 2006)
With its chugging tempo, which owed a lot to the swamp rock of
Creedence Clearwater Revival and Tony Joe White, and "I'm just
a hunk-a-hunk-a burnin' love" ad lib at the end, 'Burning Love'
- written and originally demoed by Dennis Linde - became one of
the best songs in the Elvis Presley repertoire of the '70s and a
mainstay of his live set in the Aloha from Hawaii period.
'Burning Love' was first released commercially, along with three
other Linde compositions, by Arthur Alexander on the eponymous album
the country-soul pioneer made for Warner Brothers in Memphis in
late 1971. Alexander and Linde had both become staff writers at
Combine Music, joining the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Billy Swan
and Wanda Jackson on the books of the Nashville-based publishing
company. Alexander's version of 'Burning Love' was quickly eclipsed
by Presley's, which made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic
and narrowly missed the #1 spot in the United States in October
Linde had already issued a solo album, 'Linde Manor', on the Mercury
subsidiary Intrepid in 1970, and parlayed his success as a songwriter
into a new deal with Elektra ('Dennis Linde', 1973) and then Asylum
('Trapped In The Suburbs', 1974), though his most critically acclaimed
release was 'Under The Eye' for Monument (1977).
However, though his well-crafted, vivid lyrics and uptempo material
also worked in the blues, pop and rock idioms (as demonstrated by
the Top 10 hit Shakin' Stevens scored in the UK in 1984 with the
Linde composition 'A Letter To You'), he was best known for the
hit songs he wrote for country stars such as Roger Miller ('Tom
Green County Fair', 1970), Don Williams ('Walkin' A Broken Heart',
1985, co-written with Alan Rush; 'Then It's Love', 1987), Garth
Brooks ('Callin' Baton Rouge', 1993), the Dixie Chicks ('Goodbye
Earl', 1999) and Alan Jackson ('The Talkin' Song Repair Blues',
Something of a recluse, Linde was tagged "Nashville's best-kept
songwriting secret" and hardly ever attended any show-business
ceremonies though he made a rare public appearance in 2001 when
he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside
the Everly Brothers, one of the many acts he had worked with over
Born in Abilene, Texas, Linde (pronounced LIN-dee) grew up in San
Angelo, Texas, Miami and St Louis and was given a $14 guitar by
his grandmother in his teens. He quickly worked out the basic chords
he needed to play the standards of the day. In the '60s, he combined
a day-job delivering dry-cleaning with gigs with the cover bands
the Starlighters and Bob Kuban and the In-Men, until he lost his
driving licence for six months after collecting too many speeding
tickets. "How much time can you kill when you can't drive around?
So I started writing songs," he recalled.
Drawing on the influence of writers such as Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger
and John Steinbeck, composers such as George Gershwin and Cole Porter
and the rock'n'rollers Little Richard and Fats Domino, Linde developed
the quirky, idiosyncratic, individual style which would lead him
to write colourful hits such as 'Bubba Shot The Jukebox' and 'It
Sure Is Monday' for the country singer Mark Chesnutt, and 'Queen
Of My Double Wide Trailer' for Sammy Kershaw, another country star,
in the early '90s.
In 1969, Linde moved to Nashville and came to the attention of
Bob Beckham, who was at the time running Combine Music. He joined
the publishing company and placed 'Long Long Texas Road', his first
major country hit, with Roy Drusky the following year. Linde found
his niche at Combine, and flourished alongside writers and artists
like Mickey Newbury and Dolly Parton. He married Beckham's daughter
and greatly increased the profitability of the company through the
worldwide success of 'Burning Love'. Presley recorded two more Linde
compositions - 'For The Heart' and 'I Got A Feelin' In My Body'
- and the songwriter did some guitar overdubs on three tracks the
King cut during sessions at the Stax studio in Memphis in 1973.
Though Linde would set himself challenges like writing a series
of songs starting with each letter of the alphabet - which explains
why his catalogue includes puzzling titles like 'X Marks The Spot'
and 'Zoot Suit Baby' - his outlook and approach remained unpretentious.
"If you can last through the down spells and don't get wiped
out by the up spells, you can stay there. And that's what I want
to do," he said.
Perrone, The Independent)