By Peter Cronin
Phillip Coleman Bringing It All Back Home
When Phillip Coleman left the farm and moved to Nashville in 1995 to live out his songwriting dream, things happened pretty quickly. Country stars like Linda Davis and Jo Dee Messina were the first to chart with his songs, and a cut with superstar Kenny Chesney kept the ball rolling right along. Then, just when the songwriter was thinking he’d never have to drive a tractor again, things slowed to a crawl.
“The last song I had on the radio was 10 years ago,” Coleman says in his quiet west Tennessee drawl. “Now I’ve got a new song out, and this one took forever.”
Coleman’s “Cost of Livin’” – the hard-hitting hit single from now-solo artist Ronnie Dunn – was actually written years ago.
“I wrote it out of my own looking for a job,” Coleman says. “I was filling out an application at FedEx and thinking, ‘There’s nowhere here on this piece of paper to say what needs to be said. All they know is your name, date of birth, your social and where they can reach you.’”
Before it became Coleman’s latest hit, “Cost of Livin’” had a long and turbulent shelf life, being picked up and dropped repeatedly by Dunn’s former mega-selling duo, Brooks & Dunn, and consigning its writer to that day job at FedEx. Coleman’s working life seemed to be reflecting the song’s mournful lyric.
Dunn’s moving treatment of Coleman’s working man’s lament changed everything. After Coleman mentioned the Goodyear factory that just shut down in his hometown, he found himself starring – along with a bunch of laid off workers in Union City, Tennessee –in a video for his own song.
“Everybody back home is freaking out,” he says. “I’ve got people calling me and texting me and telling me, ‘Man, you don’t know how great this is for this community.’ It’s just magic."
With “Cost Of Livin’” continuing its steady climb up the country charts, Coleman recently got some more good news. Miranda Lambert just recorded his song, “All Kinds of Kinds,” for her upcoming album.
“I wrote that song 12 years ago,” he laughs. “I’m not doing anything any different, and I’m surprised everything’s happening the way it is...maybe it’s just my time.”