His acclaimed auto-biographical album, "The Houston Kid," marked his break from the constraints of mainstream record labels. There have been some awards along the way: the Grammy in 1989 for Best Country Song, "After All This Time." He was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.
After he re-reformed The Notorious Cherry Bombs with his old friend Vince Gil in 2004, the band was nominated for a CMA Top Vocal Group Award. Hundreds of versions of his songs have been recorded over the years.