Hit Songwriter Pat Bunch Passes
Award-winning lyricist Pat Bunch died last week at age 83.
She is best known for co-writing such hits as “I’ll Still Be Loving You” by Restless Heart (1987), “Safe in the Arms of Love” by Martina McBride (1995) and “Wild One” by Faith Hill (1993). More than 100 other artists have recorded her songs.
Patricia Karen Bunch Price was a native of Zanesville, Ohio. She began her songwriting career in Nashville in the 1970s when she was approaching her 40th birthday.
Bunch’s first single as a writer was with Lynn Anderson, who released “Last Love of My Life” in 1978. Connie Smith and David Houston charted with Bunch co-written songs in 1979. Later that year, the songwriter scored her first top 10 hit via “Holding the Bag,” recorded by Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley.
Her top 10 hits of the 1980s included Crystal Gayle’s “Me Against the Night” in 1984 plus Janie Fricke’s “The First Word in Memory Is Me” and “Somebody Else’s Fire,” both in 1985. “I’ll Still Be Loving You” topped the country charts and crossed over to become an A/C and pop hit as well. The 1987 hit won awards from both BMI and ASCAP and was nominated for a Grammy.
Ty Herndon had huge successes with her “I Want My Goodbye Back” in 1995 and “Living in a Moment” in 1996. McBride’s 1995 hit “Safe in the Arms of Love” was recorded by eight other artists. Similarly, “Wild One”(sometimes listed as “She’s a Wild One”) had six cover versions.
Among those scoring top 40 country hits with Bunch’s lyrics were Baillie & The Boys (1987’s “He’s Letting Go”), Collin Raye (1995’s “What If Jesus Comes Back Like That”), Terri Clark (2005’s “She Didn’t Have Time”), and Steve Holy (2006’s “Come On Rain”). Others who did so included Herndon (1997’s “I Have to Surrender”), BlackHawk (2000’s “I Need You All the Time”) and Chris Janson (2013’s “Better I Don’t”).
Other notable cuts included Suzy Bogguss’ single of “You Wouldn’t Say That to a Stranger,” Carlene Carter’s version of “Love Like That,” the John Michael Montgomery treatment of “Even Then,” Keith Harling’s holiday release “Santa’s Got a Semi” and Kenny Rogers’ performance of “Slow Dance More.”
Early in her career, Bunch’s most frequent songwriting collaborators were Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy. These two recorded songs co-written with Bunch during their stints as members of the bands Calamity Jane and Kennedy Rose. Later, Bunch often collaborated with Doug Johnson. Other songwriting partners included Shane Teeters, Nicole Witt, Dan Mitchell and Buck Moore.
Her lyrics were particularly favored by female country artists. Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, Juice Newton, The Forester Sisters, Lacy J. Dalton, Judy Rodman, Barbara Mandrell, Michelle Wright, Dottie West, Pam Tillis, Shelby Lynne, Sylvia, Lauren Alaina and Mary Chapin Carpenter are among those who recorded her songs. Bunch’s male-country song clients included Don Williams, Billy Dean, Lee Greenwood, Charley Pride, Gene Watson, Mark Wills, The Gatlins, George Strait, Sammy
Kershaw, Clay Walker and The Oak Ridge Boys.
The songwriter was not limited to the country scene. Among the non-country artists who recorded her works were Glenn Frey, Jill Sobule, Art Garfunkel, Percy Sledge, Joan Baez, Soul Sistas and Petula Clark.
Pat Bunch died on Jan. 30 at her home in Cross Plains, Tennessee. She is survived by her husband of 45 years, James Price, as well as by sons Randy Archer, Robin Archer and Rusty Archer, plus nine grandchildren.
There are no services or visitation planned. Arrangements are entrusted to Austin & Bell, 533 Highway 76 White House, Tennessee, 37188, (615- 672-5000, austinandbell.com).
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