A singer, tunesmith, and purveyor of what he dubbed "Southern music" a brew of country, folk, rock, blues, gospel, and Celtic styles Steve Young was a songwriter's songwriter, an acclaimed performer whose work found its greatest commercial success in the hands of other artists and earned him praise from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt, and Lucinda Williams. Born in Georgia and raised throughout the South, by his teens Young was already playing guitar and writing his own songs. In the early '60s, he moved to New York City and became affiliated with the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk music scene. After a brief return to Alabama, where he'd spent time growing up, he settled in California in 1964.

On the West Coast, Young found work as a postal carrier while striking up friendships with the likes of Stephen Stills and Van Dyke Parks. A tenure with the psychedelic folk unit Stone Country yielded an eponymous 1968 LP, and a year later, Young issued his solo debut Rock Salt & Nails, a country-rock excursion featuring cameos by Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, and Gene Clark. He moved to Reprise in 1971, and with the title track of that year's Seven Bridges Road, he offered perhaps his best-known composition, popularized through a series of covers by artists like the Eagles, Joan Baez, Rita Coolidge, and Ian Matthews. He had another tremendous success when Waylon Jennings covered "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" in 1973.