If you’re a country music fan, you may not know the name Dean Dillon, but chances are you’re familiar with some of the hits he’s written, especially those recorded by the legendary George Strait. Just to name a few, “The Chair,” “Marina del Rey” and “The Best Day” all have one songwriter in common, Dean Dillon. In celebration of all he has accomplished so far in his life and career, the documentary, Tennessee Whiskey: The Dean Dillon Story, will air at 8/7c pm on January 24 on Circle TV.
By the time he was a teenager, Dillon of Lake City, TN, knew that music was his passion, and he was determined to make a career out of it. So once he turned 18, Dillon set out to achieve his dreams in Music City as a singer/songwriter. Little did he know that at that time, when he hitchhiked to Nashville, TN, he was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Before he could even get to Nashville, Dillon was writing and pitching songs to artists such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Porter Wagoner. Although he might not have had much success back then, it didn’t take long for his work to get noticed. Dillon started off with a gig as a performer at the Opryland theme park in the 70’s, which indirectly earned him his first publishing deal with producer and publisher Tom Collins.
After spending some time in the limelight as a performer, Dillon decided to take a hiatus and shifted his focus back to songwriting. During that time, he thrived as a songwriter and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and more recently, the Country Music Hall of Fame. This success came from hard work and some good friends by his side, such as George Strait, whom Dillon wrote over 70 songs for over the years. He also went on to work with Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Lee Ann Womack, George Jones and many other iconic country music artists.
Learn even more about Dillon in Tennessee Whiskey: The Dean Dillon Story, airing at 8/7c pm on January 24 on Circle TV.
Here are just a handful of legendary songs that Dillon is credited for writing:
1. “Unwound” – George Strait – Co-written by Dean Dillon and Frank Dycus, Strait’s major label single debut known as “Unwound” appeared on his 1981 album, Strait Country. This influential country song earned Strait a spot in the top 10 on the Billboard charts for the first time in his career.
2. “Tennessee Whiskey” – George Jones/Chris Stapleton – Before “Tennessee Whiskey” was recorded by Chris Stapleton in 2015, the single was originally brought to life by David Allan Coe in 1981 and then George Jones three years later. Written by Dillon and Linda Hargrove, this hit song has remained a country music staple for over 40 years.
3. “A Little Too Late” – Toby Keith – Released in 2006, Toby Keith’s “A Little Too Late” was the second single off his White Trash With Money album. Co-written by Keith and songwriting hit-makers, Dillon and Scotty Emerick, the single about the bitter end of a relationship quickly reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart once it hit the airwaves.
4. “A Lot of Things Different” – Kenny Chesney – Kenny Chesney, the No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem artist released his version of the hit single “A Lot Of Different Things” in 2002. Together, Dillon and Bill Anderson penned the song about regrets and second chances, which was originally released as the title track to Anderson’s 2001 album.
5. “The Chair” – George Strait – “Unwound” might have started George Strait’s career, but this single off his fifth studio album was the driving force to the next chapter for him as an artist. Co-writers Dillion and Hank Cochran captured the true essence of a country love song when they penned “The Chair.”