"The people who love me still ask me/ when are you coming back to town?/ and I answer quite frankly/ when they stop building roads/ and all God needs is gravity to hold me down." - Gravity - Robert Lee Castleman.

Trucking troubadour Robert Lee Castleman is a lucky man - he won a Grammy for his song The Lucky One, cut by Alison Krauss on her 2001 New Favourite disc.

Krauss convinced Rounder to sign the West Virginian born big rig truckie and son of a soldier for his debut disc Crazy As Me.

Although Crazy As Me won rave reviews for the singer it withered on the sales vine.

But that was no surprise for Castleman who was told he was 10 years ahead of his time when he first visited Nashville in 1979 and on his return a decade later.

But Castleman, now 52, had the last grin.

He earned healthy royalties as Krauss, Georgian born superstar Alan Jackson, Suzy Bogguss, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins cut a brace of his songs.

Castleman wrote the title track of Krauss's 1999 solo album, Forget About It, and two songs for New Favourite.

Now, Krauss and Union Station have included four more Castleman tunes including Crazy As Me on her 11th album Lonely Runs Both Ways (Rounder-Shock).


It all started last millennium when Krauss, 33, asked Castleman to pick and sing for him at her birthday party after being invited by her then husband Pat Bergeson.

Castleman, a diamond in the rough produced by Bergeson, was buoyed by the advice of the late Texan outlaw Waylon Jennings.

"He said, 'be tenacious and do what you do. Don't ever change what you do for the sake of pleasing somebody else,' " Castleman revealed.

< Alison Krauss

"I said to hell with it, if I can't do it my way, then I guess I'll just go drive a truck.

"I enjoy truckin', and that's the reason I got into it. It's a long, lonely road, and it leads to a lot of inspiration. You get out there in the desert someplace, and there you are, just the sky and nobody else around. It gives you time to ponder things and miss people and reflect on the times."

So back to Alison and her stellar band who paved the way for recent tourists Gillian Welch and David Rawlings who landed Wouldn't Be So Bad on their new disc.

And, in true Krauss style she kicks off with a pair of Castleman tunes - regret-filled Gravity - with the lyric "I left home when I was 17/ I just grew tired of falling down" and the hit single Restless.


"We called the album Lonely Runs Both Ways because no matter who's leaving the relationship, there's a negative side," Krauss, winner of 18 Grammies, revealed.

"The songs are all heartbreak songs, but some of them are the person singing who's leaving somebody, and the other side, of course, is that they've been left. I think it covers those two subjects pretty well."

Restless segues into Ron Block's staccato banjo on Rain, Please Go Away - a classic from Del McCoury added late in the album's making.

Alison Krauss and Union Station

"We always have a bridge to the original audience," dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas says, "and we didn't have it, the starving bluegrass musician, the 'I hate my woman,' the bluegrass breakdown song. We just all jumped on it at once and that one set us all free."

Krauss and Union Station cover all bases.

This Sad Song seeps from the band's embryo - written by Krauss and original banjo player Alison Brown.

North Carolina singer-songwriter Donna Hughes, who wrote My Poor Old Heart, is already impacting with her second, self-released album.

Cox Family stalwarts Sidney and Suzanne provide Borderline that features three way harmonies by Alison, Block and Dan Tyminski.

Tyminksi uplifts Woody Guthrie's Pastures Of Plenty and Block leads on Castleman tune Doesn't Have To Be This Way.

Krauss peaks on If I Didn't Know Any Better, penned by young protégé Mindy Smith.

"I think my favourite lyric on this record comes from that song - "I turned around/ before I could run/I found you already settled down/In the back of my mind."

Block's rollicking tune I Don't Have to Live This Way and evocative finale A Living Prayer, embroider the rich bluegrass tapestry.

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