Thursday, March 22, 2007
Dixie Does Nashville
“I’m a Country Songwriter” “Fact and Fantasy”
By Richard E. Noble
[This is another review that I’m publishing in the Franklin Chronicle – I don’t know if it has any international value but what the hey?]
A young man came walking into my ice cream parlor over in Carrabelle one afternoon. This young man was a Country Songwriter.
After reading a number of my poems that I had framed and hung here and there, he came up to me and confessed his passion.
“I’m a Country songwriter,” he said.
“No kidding?” I responded in awe and admiration.
“Well, I mean, I am a musician and I can write songs. I play and teach guitar.”
“That’s great,” I said. “Who have you written songs for?”
“Well, I was thinking that I would write some songs for Tom T. Hall. I heard that he lives around here somewhere.”
“I’ve heard that too.”
“Do you think that he would buy some songs off me?”
“Sure,” I said. “Sing me one of the songs that you have written for Tom T. Hall. I would love to hear it.”
“Well ... ahh ... I haven’t actually written any songs for Tom T. Hall yet.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“Well, it is a lot of work to write a song. You know first you have to think up a melody that people will like and then you have to write all the notes down; and then you have to figure out what words go with the notes and all that sort of thing.”
“Yeah, I realize that. But don’t you think that you should write one of your Tom T. Hall songs down and show it to him. How else would he know if he wanted to buy it?”
“Well, what if he doesn’t like it? Then I will have gone to all that trouble for nothing?”
“That’s true. I never really thought of it like that. But then tell me; how were you intending to sell a song to Tom T. Hall if you haven’t written any yet?”
“Well, I don’t really know. I heard a story once about how Kris Kristofferson landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s back yard and then sold him ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ or something like that. You know that was a really stupid song. ‘I got up in the mornin’ and drank me a beer. Then I made a fried egg sandwich and ate some baloney...”; what the hell kind of a song is that? That ain’t no song; it’s a paragraph And not even a good paragraph at that. I could write a better song than that.”
“Well maybe you better get started. I have heard that Kris Kristofferson has really made a lot of money writing those paragraphs.”
“Yeah, but I don’t even know where to rent a helicopter. It takes money to make money, you know what I mean? The rich get richer while the poor get to give damn guitar lessons.”
“Forget the darn helicopter’ I mean - write a song.”
“Well, what if I just went out to Tom T. Hall’s house and asked him if he would like me to write some songs for him? Do you think that he would hire me?”
“I certainly don’t see why he wouldn’t. Why I’ll bet that old Tom T. is just sitting out at his mansion behind all those armed guards wishing that somebody would bust into the Plantation and his ten million dollar home, knock down his door and offer to write songs for him. I mean, he probably don’t know how to write a darn song himself anymore. I heard that he made his wife write his last hit song - Redneck Riviera. Watermelon Wine, ya sure? It was that black guy who was sweeping the floor that night that deserved all the money. Tom T. just had to write down what the guy told him for god’s sake!”
“Do you really think so?”
“Yeah! Do you know where the Plantation is? I’ll give you directions to it, if you don’t?”
Well, I don’t know if my young friend ever made it to Tom T. Hall’s house or got himself a helicopter, but I do know that he didn’t make it to the Dixie Theatre where this last Friday and Saturday (March 9, 10) all these great Country Songwriters were right there on the Dixie Theatre stage.
I went Friday and saw Karen Staley, T.W. Hale and Don Poythress. On Saturday night Tony Mullins of Mullintone Music (his own company), Danny Orton, and Jason Matthews performed. Among them they have written songs for Faith Hill, Michael Martin Murphy, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Tim McGraw, Billy Currington and many more.
I am sure, being a fantasy songwriter and poet-musician myself, that none of these big singing stars mentioned above would be anything if it weren’t for these talented but not yet so famous songwriters.
I personally had a song that 1 carried around in my wallet for about eight years that would have made Tom T. Hall into a “real somebody”. I wrote a song for Erroll Garner’s Dreamy – but he died before I could get it to him. And that darn Alan Jackson. He actually came into my ice cream parlor one cold winter night with his beautiful wife and stole the title for his most famous album right off one of the poems on my wall “Under the Influence”. I’m the one who wrote that - those three words, I mean. But what can I do? You can’t sue a guy for stealing three words. I mean all these words that I have used in this story right here were probably once used by Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and they probably used words that were used by some previous famous writer. So what can you do? You just have to sit here and suck it up!
I am going to tell you what, even the life of a Fantasy Country Songwriter can be tragic. Ask me sometime, I’ll tell you about it.
No wait a minute, maybe I’ll write a screenplay about it. Then I’ll find out where Clint Eastwood lives. I’ll rent a helicopter - but should I write the screenplay first or rent the helicopter? It is a lot of work writing a darn screenplay - especially when I don’t even know if Clint Eastwood will like it or not? What if he don’t like it? Then who pays for the darn helicopter? Maybe I could write to Clint Eastwood and ask him if he would pay for the helicopter that I’m going to rent if he doesn’t like my screen play?
Do you think that he would do that?