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John McCutcheon

 

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thighs, chest, head, and other body parts, knows he needs no external instrument to make plenty of music.

And then there is his voice: a strong, what-you-hear-is-what-you-get, all-American voice that sounds better than most of us while still managing to sound like all of us. It's a voice that can confidently carry a cappella, Appalachian-style hymns or transform itself and remind you of Bob Seger at his raspy, rockin' best.

Now add his songwriting to this embarrassment of riches. If McCutcheon had never written another song besides his "Christmas in the Trenches," arguably one of the two best antiwar songs in the English language (Eric Bogle's "The Band Played 'Waltzing Matilda'" being the other), he could be counted among the great songwriters of recent memory. More than twenty years after he wrote it, the song still moves audiences to tears and cheers, even if they've heard it many times before. But he's penned countless other gems: children's songs, love songs, hilarious songs (ask him to sing "The Red Corvette"), and deeply moving songs about social issues and his response to 9/11. His twenty-four recordings have received countless awards, including five Grammy nominations.

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