Paul Craft, a country songwriter whose tunes were recorded by the top performers of his era, and who weeks ago was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, died Oct. 18 in that city. He was 76.
The hall of fame announced his death. Mr. Craft became ill during the induction ceremony Oct. 5 and was taken to the hospital, according to news accounts, but the cause of death could not immediately be confirmed.
Mr. Craft was known for working in eclectic styles, summoning searing humor and soulful melancholy.
Two of his most popular numbers from the 1970s — “Dropkick Me, Jesus” and “Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” — were nominated the same year for the Grammy Award for best country song. Larry Gatlin was the winner in 1977 for “Broken Lady.”
Singer Moe Bandy had a hit with “Hank Williams,” an elegy to the celebrated singer-songwriter, and artists including Bobby Bare recorded “Dropkick Me, Jesus.”
“Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life,” went the song,
“End over end, neither left nor to right
“Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
“Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.”
Other hits for Mr. Craft included “Brother Jukebox,” recorded by Mark Chesnutt, and “It’s Me Again, Margaret,” a tune humorously performed by Ray Stevens about a lewd phone stalker who, after being arrested, makes a jailhouse call to the object of his earlier attentions.
The Seldom Scene, the bluegrass group founded in Bethesda, Md., more than four decades ago, recorded several of his numbers, including “Raised by the Railroad Line.”
Mr. Craft was born Aug. 12, 1938, in Memphis and spent part of his childhood on his family’s farm in Arkansas.
He taught himself to play the guitar, the ukulele, the accordion and the harmonica, according to a biography on the Web site Allmusic.com.
Later, he played the banjo with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys.
He was a 1963 graduate of the University of Virginia and served in the Coast Guard before settling in the 1970s in Nashville, where he became known as a go-to talent for songwriting.
A complete list of survivors could not immediately be confirmed.
Among songwriters in his genre, Mr. Craft distinguished himself with his artistic independence, writing and publishing nearly all of his music on his own.
“I can’t help feeling that if Ernest Hemingway had been forced to ‘co-write’ ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ ” he observed, according to the Tennessean newspaper of Nashville, “it wouldn’t be the same book and that would be a shame.”
An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the surname of singer Linda Ronstadt in a photo caption. Her surname is spelled Ronstadt, not Rondstadt. The caption has been corrected.