UM’s Rutherford an elite songwriter

Published 10:53 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

I’ve never met Rivers Rutherford, but like thousands of others, his words have touched me over the years.

Words like:

There ain’t nothing ‘bout you that don’t do something for me.

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Love and you made a man of me.

Now I consider myself an amateur poet, but this phrase right here is genius:

The night is like a dagger

Long and cold and sharp

As I sit here on the front steps

Blowing smoke rings in the dark

And the song he wrote for Trace Adkins, “Ladies Love Country Boys,” sounds like it came straight from Ole Miss:

She grew up in the city in a little subdivision

Her daddy wore a tie

Mama never fried a chicken

Ballet, straight A’s, most likely to succeed

They bought her a car after graduation

Sent her down south for some higher education

Put her on the fast track, to a law degree

Which shouldn’t seem surprising since Rutherford is an Ole Miss alum — something I was unaware of until just this week.

Since the 1990s, Rutherford has written chart-topping country music songs for the likes of Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Gary Allan, Adkins, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s “Real Good Man.” But perhaps the biggest hit song that he has written was for Brady Paisley entitled “When I Get Where I’m Going,” which has vocals by Dolly Parton and speaks about the Great Beyond when we all pass on.

Yeah, when I get where I’m going

There’ll be only happy tears

I will shed the sins and struggles

I have carried all these years

And I’ll leave my heart wide open

I will love and have no fear

Yeah, when I get where I’m going

Don’t cry for me down here

Over the course of his song-writing career, the Germantown, Tennessee native has written or co-written eight No. 1 country music songs and is considered one of the most accomplished songwriters in Nashville.

But he has never forgotten his music roots in Memphis or at Ole Miss, where he attended school in the 1980s on a music scholarship. The 49-year-old has given back to the university over the years and will do so again Friday as he makes an appearance at the Ole Miss Inn for the student alumni council. He is one of five panelists for this years “Bridging the Gap” and will be held from 3-5 p.m. He will be joined by John T. Edge, Walker Jones, Markeeva Morgan and Leigh Ann Tuohy.

Ole Miss has been blessed over the years with some incredibly talented artists and Rivers Rutherford has to rank right up there with the likes of Faulkner, Brown, Grisham and Iles.

Rob Sigler is managing editor of The Oxford
EAGLE. Contact him at