Read Cowtownchad’s (AKA Chad Cochran) photo essays about mental health, I Didn’t Want to Tell You –IDWTTY, as part of Country Fried Rock podcast miniseries, Rock N Roll Book Club.
Chad Cochran, known in the photography world as Cowtownchad, coaxes comfortable photos from uncomfortable subjects — both the people and the topics. As he transitioned from landscape photography and abandoned buildings to portraits, he immediately started a series to normalize the conversation around mental health by having musicians — and now others, as well — share their stories of how mental health has impacted their lives. From personal diagnoses to family dynamics, situational and lifelong challenges, the I Didn’t Want to Tell You series of photo essays launched first in the print edition of No Depression magazine (a music outlet coincidentally titled from the Carter Family song) and has expanded online and to further projects in development.
Listen, like, and subscribe to the podcast conversation with Chad Cochran, AKA Cowtown Chad.
Chad Cochran, the photographer known as Cowtownchad, created his I Didn’t Want to Tell You, Normalizing the Conversation About Mental Healthproject nearly 5 years ago. With a fully crafted concept, Cowtownchad refined his approach, and recently debuted the first part of this series via the coincidentally-titled No Depression roots music magazine. (The magazine title comes from a Carter Family song and references an Uncle Tupelo album.)
Sharing How Mental Health Impacts Our Lives
Musicians discuss how the mental health challenges of those they love, their families of origin, and their own struggles impact their lives. From addiction to depression, eating disorders to anxiety, musicians share their stories, hoping their candor helps others. Normalizing the conversation around mental health allows people to find ways to keep going.
What’s next for I Didn’t Want to Tell You?
The I Didn’t Want to Tell You project continues to grow. With future pieces in the series, a book, and possibly a documentary in the works, Cowtownchad intends to help others by expanding the reach of this concept. Ultimately, the goal is to help people find help and find community.
Some resources available in the US, many geared toward the music community.
Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255 for 24/7 trained volunteers to TALK on the phone
Crisis Text LineTEXT “Home” to 741741 and a trained volunteer will text with you. The Crisis Text Line offers help for a variety of concerns, including suicide prevention, anxiety, depression, emotional abuse, bullying, self harm, loneliness, and eating disorders
Nuci’s Space, Athens, GA Reducing suicide by removing the barriers to care for musicians in the Athens, GA area. This comprehensive outreach includes health and dental screenings, recovery groups, affordable practice space, gear rental, and a recording studio. Nuci’s Space is the official charity of Country Fried Rock.
MusiCares The charitable arm of the Recording Academy Grammy Foundation. Provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund Provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
Music Health Alliance A Nashville-based musicians assistance organization. Heal the Music by providing access to healthcare through services that PROTECT, DIRECT & CONNECT music professionals with medical and financial solutions.
HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) An Austin, TX-based musicians assistance organization. HAAM provides access to affordable healthcare for Austin’s low-income working musicians, with a focus on prevention and wellness.
Sims Foundation An Austin, TX-based organization that provides mental health and substance use recovery services for musicians, music industry professionals, and their families to support the well-being of the Austin music community.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of people who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their drinking problem.
Al-Anon A mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking
I first got to know Chad Cochran, known online as CowtownChad, through the defunct Twitter event, Couch By Couchwest. Cochran’s photographs and mixed media art featuring haunting landscapes and abandoned buildings held titles from songs by musicians featured on our show. Through the magic of social media, we became friends and hung out at AmericanaFest in Nashville one year, and then he came down to South Carolina to cover the Country Fried Rock 4th-ish Anniversary party, where Caleb Caudle played in our rural school house, a magical, slightly decrepit place that is made for singing.
At the urging of Lydia Loveless, Cochran has expanded his photography to include concert shots, with a specialty for stage images and raw portraits. In this podcast, we talk about many of the bands he has “shot” recently (Charles Bradley, Old 97s, John Moreland, etc.) and festivals from Nelsonville to High Water. I also put him on the spot about a “wish project” that I hope he accomplishes, with your help.