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Former Blue Dog Phillip Lammonds shares his appreciation for “Cowboy Things” on his debut album

Former Blue Dog Phillip Lammonds shares his appreciation for “Cowboy Things” on his debut album
April 2024

Lammonds is performing at fundraiser for the Center for Birds of Prey on April 18

This month, Phillip Lammonds is releasing his own album, Cowboy Things. 

Phillip Lammonds writes a song every day and estimates his lifetime catalog at about 4,000 tunes. The day before we spoke, he’d penned three: one with Wyatt Durrette (cowriter of Zac Brown’s “Chicken Fried”), another with country singer Cody Webb, and a third with a recent American Idol contestant. “I go into my office, or somebody else’s office like mine, and we sit down and stare at each other or our shoes and try to come up with something,” he says, as if penning the latest hit country song is the workaday existence of a corporate desk jockey, before admitting, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.” 

Lammonds spent the ’90s playing with the Blue Dogs, a Lowcountry band that includes Hank Futch, his fraternity brother at the College of Charleston. He chose a more traditional career for his child-raising years, running the Sotheby’s real estate brokerage in Pawleys Island. But the Georgetown native never stopped writing songs. One Halloween, when his then-seven-year-old son—who insisted on dressing up as a cowboy every year—whispered, “the coolest things are always cowboy things,” Lammonds sat with his Gibson penning what would become the title track to his debut album, more than two decades later. 

The 11 songs on Cowboy Things, out April 5, draw all the way back from his Blue Dogs days with a stripped-down version of the band’s “I’d Give Anything.” But most come from his recent career renaissance, after moving to Nashville for a full-time gig at Curb Word Publishing, where he’s a go-to writer for stars Craig Morgan, Kip Moore, and Lee Brice. When Brice, a Sumter native, built a home studio in Nashville, he pushed his friend to break it in by finally recording his own songs. 

Phillip Lammonds with the Blue Dogs at their 2023 homecoming concert. 

The title track, “Cowboy Things,” is Lammonds at his purest, fingerpicking acoustic guitar as he tells the story of an old-timer on his deathbed, dreaming back over a lifetime of driving cattle. 

For the other songs—such as the rolling shuffle of “Hell’s Kitchen” (ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons plays lap steel) and the sing-along “Love Is Love” (featuring vocals from Darius Rucker)—the raw tracks were recorded live and layered upon. The result is an honest record focused on lyrics. Pam Tillis sings on “Forever Ain’t That Far Away,” but the most surprising collaboration is a cowrite with Bill Murray on “Supposed to Fall in Love.” Murray approached Lammonds after a reunion gig with the Blue Dogs and said, “I’ve got an idea for a song.” 

“We met up at an apartment somewhere, and he had a big manila folder in his hand,” he recalls. “He went to get some coffee, and I looked at the side of the folder and it said, ‘There’s no explanation, an easy way out, or a clue. I’m overcome with consumption, like I’m broke down with the flu.’ I said, ‘I don’t care what we write about, but that’s the first line of the song.’” 

An hour later, Lammonds drove Murray to the airport to fly to the Final Four college basketball tournament. It’s another unexpected moment in an unconventional writer’s life, finally documented in his own voice. “I don’t feel that worthy, honestly, but so many people came out of the woodwork to make this project so incredible,” says Lammonds. “I’m 60 years old; I’m not supposed to be doing this. I’m pinching myself—it’s about all I can do.” 

TUNE IN: Watch the music video for Phillip Lammonds’s “Cowboy Things,” the title track of his new album.