The great singer-songwriter John Hiatt is 62 years old today. I first noticed him in my teens. “Pink Bedroom” got a lot of play on our local radio station. He seemed to me like the American equivalent of Elvis Costello. That’s still not an entirely inappropriate comparison. But whereas Costello is more adventurous musically and lyrically, Hiatt is more audience-friendly and doesn’t suffer from Costello’s many excesses.
I don’t have much to say about his life or career. Mostly, he’s written a lot of songs that other people have covered. And he has a substantial following, but he isn’t playing stadiums. He has the kind of career I think most singer-songwriters would like: widely acclaimed by his peers, famous enough for it to be flattering, and rich from all his royalties.
To me, his 1983 album Riding with the King made him a star. For one thing, it is just a great album. But it seemed to me that everyone was playing “You May Already Be a Winner.” But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here is “She Loves the Jerk”:
In 1992, Hiatt put out the album Little Village with Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner. I still listen to that album. It’s not great, but it’s a lot of fun. Here they are performing live:
Since that time he has been extremely consistent. Here is the title track from his 2005 album Master of Disaster:
Happy birthday John Hiatt!