Jim Ed Brown: Singer

“Country music is the poetry of the American spirit.” -Steve Maraboli

Our special guest  is country music singer and recording artist Jim Ed Brown.  Jim Ed Brown will be talking about his  first album in 30 years, entitled “In Style Again.”  He has recorded with his sisters Maxine and Bonnie in their trio “The Browns,” and had hit songs like “million selling “The Three Bells.”  In a duo with Helen Cornelius, Brown recorded songs that would become classic country recordings, like “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You” and “Lying in Love With You.”  Jim Ed Brown has also recorded as a solo artist withsongs like “Southern Loving,” “Morning” and his signature song “Pop a Top,” which Alan Jackson also went on to record.  On his first album in 30 years, Jim Ed Brown also recorded duets with Vince Gill, the vocal group The Whites, and even reunited with Helen Cornelius on one song.  “In Style Again” was produced by Don Cusic and the title track was produced by country music artist Bobby Bare.  In addition to his career as a singer, Jim Ed Brown is also a radio personality.  He hosts “Country Music Greats Radio Show” and the daily short format “Country Music Greats Radio Minute” both heard on over 300 radio stations as well as online.  Jim Ed Brown is an active member of the Grand Ole Opry, having been a member since 1963.  

 

John Goodwin: Songwriter, Painter, Recording Artist

JOHN GOODWIN is one of the few songwriters and recording artists who makes music as a completely free expression.  This is the first in a series of interviews Paul has had with this artist John Goodwin.  We get a good concept of John Goodwin as an artist and in particular songs from his albums “Thorny” and “State of the Artist” are discussed.

What would happen if the record companies and commercial radio embraced the idea of limitless expression and freedom of creativity?

Bruce Burch: Songwriter, Educator

Bruce Burch, a native of Gainesville, Georgia is the writer of songs recorded by the likes of George Jones, Billy Joe Royal, Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton and many others. Songwriter Bruce Burch is also known in the world of academia, he is the Executive in Residence of the Music, Sports and Entertainment program at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia. His other passion is the John Jarrard Foundation, where Burch serves as a director. The John Jarrard Foundation is an organization that supports songwriters and a number of great causes.

 

Who is Bruce Burch?

Well, Bruce Burch, first and foremost, is a songwriter. Uh, that’s what got me in the music business and what, uh – probably I made more money doing that than anything in the music business. Uh, I have become, uh, through – when the money quit coming in so much as a songwriter I moved over to the business side and became a music publisher and, uh, worked for the EMI Publishing, one of the biggest companies which now has just been, uh, bought by Sony ATV. But, uh, that moved me into that direction and then I got into academia over at the University of Georgia, since then Kennesaw State and now at Brenau University teaching the music business. So, but first and foremost, and the thing that got me there, the thing that I’m just, uh, still in love with is songwriting.

I think most stories are best from the beginning. What was life like growing up?

Well, I grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, uh, the poultry capitol of the world and, uh, my dad was in the poultry industry so I spent a lot of time in chicken houses. I always say now that, uh, no matter how much poop I have to walk through in the music business, it could never top the poop I walked through in the poultry industry (laughs). So, uh, you know I grew up there and, uh, loved music always. I was a big Beatles fan, obviously – you know, everybody who grew up in the ‘60s was – and the Rolling Stones, and really didn’t listen to country music, um, until, um, until college age, you know? So, uh, but it was – always music was involved, you know? I loved music from the time I – even though I didn’t play and didn’t sing growing up.

What got you hooked on country music?

Kris Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson. I think when I first heard him it was like, uh – even though the guy was not a great singer, not a great guitar player – uh, but just an amazing writer. And I’d, I’d, you know I’d started – I’d always been into poetry and, uh, he was the first guy who I think put poetry into country music. Maybe not the first guy but he was the guy that, uh, sort of became the guy who carried that flag of – kind of put Bob Dylan and mixed in with Johnny Cash and, you know, the rest is history.

Tell us about the song For the Good Times.

That song is the reason I am in the music business. Uh, I heard it. I had, uh, broken up with a girlfriend. I had quit – I had gone to East Tennessee State University to play football. My freshman year I had quit football. So I had lost the two loves of my life, I had lost, and so it was just I was feeling a sense of loss when I heard that song. And it hit me just like it was – when I heard Kris Kristofferson singing that song when I walked into my apartment one night it was like, uh, he was singing my life. And it drew me into – like I said, with country songs, the best country songs you feel like they’re singing your life and that what I always, when I look for a great country song, that’s what I look for in it.

Tell us about the first song you wrote.

That would have been, uh, a song about my grandma. I’d, like I said I’d been listening to Kris Kristofferson and, uh, and Mickey Newberry and a lot of – I started listening to some other writers and the next thing you know, I pick up a guitar and began writing and, and the first thing that popped out was song about my grandma. We’d come, we’d been up to visit her and came back, and I wrote a song called Grandma Mackie. And, uh, and I’ve probably written more songs about my – other than a woman – I’ve probably written more songs about grandparents and family than anything else. You know, I think that’s sort of been a theme that’s recurred throughout my career as a songwriter.

You mentioned Kris Kristofferson. What songwriters have influenced you the most?

Well, definitely Kris Kristofferson. Uh, Mickey Newberry early on. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He wrote Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In, and put An American Trilogy together. Uh, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, you know, were two. John Prine. Uh, more of the folk/country artists. Uh, and then I got into, once I got into country music I mean, guys like Bob McDill, guys like Harlan Howard. Uh, you know, the simplicity of country music. You know, the writers, the pure country writers not so much the artist/writers.

How did you feel the first time a song you wrote was recorded by an artist?

Well, the first time it was recorded it didn’t – uh, it was one by Slim Pickens, the character actor, you know, that he had been – it never got released. It was called – I was running a hot dog shop at the time and I chopped onions every day and I wrote a song called It’s Only These Onions that’s Making Me Cry. And because I was, you know I was, when I chopped the onions I would tear up, you know? And it was kind of a comedy song. Well, Slim cut the song and it never got released so it was disappointment the first time my first song got recorded. But the good news about that is he recorded one other song out of the Combine Music Catalog, which is where my song was published by, and that was a Kris Kristofferson song. So I took it as a sign that, even though that song had not, was not released to the general public and nobody ever heard it – I never even heard it, his version of it – uh, because he cut a Kris Kristofferson song, I took it as a sign that I was meant to keep doing it. So, so that song getting recorded, probably meant more to me than just about any other song I had recorded because it was at a point in time when I was just about ready to give up. And even though I didn’t have any financial success with that song, it gave me the, you know, the passion to keep going on, you know? I thought ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ You know?

But you never heard the song.

Never heard the song. Not that he recorded, no. You know, I still do it. When I play out, I do it live ‘cause I always tell that story about it. I didn’t get to meet him. I was so busy, I was still working my job at the hot dog shop and so when he was in recording I was working all day so I didn’t get to meet him. But one of the pluggers, the song pluggers that had gotten that song recorded went over there, met him and said ‘You know, Slim, this is this boy’s first cut he’s ever had.’ And he said – if you remember Slim Pickens, how talked – (imitates Slim Pickens) “Well he’s dang sure startin’ at the bottom!’ (Laughter) And, um, (laughter) sure enough, I was starting at the bottom. But it was, it was a real – like I say, the first song that I ever had recorded that got released was by the Oakridge Boys, back on their very first Christmas album and that’s the one, I guess, made me realize I could do this because I actually got to – when I got recorded, I got to go to the bank and get a $15,000 loan against earnings to come in, and that could’ve been $150,000 at that particular time. I mean, it meant so much to me to know that I could make that kind of money writing songs that I knew then that I was going to be a lifer. You know, it’s what I call a lifer in the music business, is somebody that never – you know, is going to figure out howto make a living at it (laughs) for the rest of my life and that’s what I did.

When you heard that song the Oak Ridge Boys recorded, was it on an album or was it on the radio? When was the first time you heard it?

The first time I heard it was just on, yeah, on an album. It got played – it got a good bit of radio play, though, over the years. The beauty about Christmas songs, you know – I don’t know if you’ve interviewed any guys that have written big Christmas hits. This wasn’t a big hit but it still gets played to this day because Christmas songs come back year after year after year, you know?

Right.

I mean I used to talk to the guy whose dad, I think, wrote Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. When I was at EMI they published that song, and I used to talk to the son of the guy who wrote that. Every year he would call and ask “Who recorded that song? Who recorded the song this year?’ And sure enough, every year it would get re-recorded and, of course, got, you know, unbelievable amounts of airplay. So the guy who wrote that’s son is still living on that song, you know?

Tell us about the song you wrote, Rumor Has It.

Rumor Has It was my first #1 and that will always be a special song because of that. It got recorded, um, several times before Reba McEntire recorded it. Uh, it got recorded by, uh, Freddie Hart. It got recorded by Ricky Scaggs and Tammy Wynette. But they never – I think Freddie Hart released it but Tammy didn’t ever release it and, uh, Ricky Scaggs never released it. And so, thank goodness, when Reba recorded it, it came out and not only was it a hit, a #1 single, it was also the title of the album and that really sort of put me on the map as a songwriter. Uh, I mean, I had had a couple of Top 10’s before that but this was, having a #1, you know, it definitely puts you on the map.

What song, of the songs you’ve written, are you most proud of?

Probably the song called Wine into Water that T. Graham Brown – a guy named T. Graham Brown who I knew from Georgia, uh, we co-wrote that song with a guy named Ted Hewitt. And that song has probably affected more lives than any song. It’s about a recovery. It’s basically a recovery song, you know? And they used it in – I mean, I don’t know how many people have come up and told me that they’ve been in AA or treatment, you know, for substance abuse that they use that song in there. So I think it’s saved a few lives so that’s been a really meaningful song to me. And it’s probably if not my best song, it’s definitely up there in my top five best songs I’ve ever written.

He recorded another song, The Last Resort.

T. Graham did, yeah. Last Resort was a Top 5 record and my first Top 5 record. And that was a special song because, I mean it was the first Top 5 and T. Graham was so good to me. I mean, he recorded I think eight songs that we either wrote or – or actually, I think we co-wrote all of them. And, uh, he was a guy from Georgia. You know, we had become friends and, uh, he sort of gave me the – that song sort of put me on the map, I guess, since it got me in the Top 10 and opened a lot of doors for me. So, uh, I’ll always be indebted to him and he’s such an amazing singer. Still, to this day he sings. I mean, he’s my age, which is I’m 59 and I think he’s got to be about, maybe a little younger than I am but he still sings like a 20-year old, you know?

You’ve written with the late Dobie Gray.

Yes.

What are your memories of writing with him?

Dobie was, uh, boy, talking about a singer now. He was probably – I wouldn’t say he was the “best” singer but he definitely – I used to get chill bumps writing with him just because he sang so beautifully. And we wrote one song in particular called It’s Not Because We Didn’t Try that I still think, uh – it’s not been a hit for anybody. Pam Tillis recorded it one time but it never got released. I got a lot of those songs that don’t get released it seems like (laughs). But, uh, I still think that song has got life left in it and, uh, Dobie was a, he was a special person. He had a lot of soul, probably the most soulful guy I ever wrote with.

There’s a song you wrote that was recorded by Billy Joe Royal.

Umhmm.

What was the inspiration behind Out of Sight and on My Mind?

Out of Sight and on My Mind – I had that title and, uh, ended up writing it with Rick Peoples. And Rick and I – I’ll be honest with you, when we wrote the song I thought it was OK. I didn’t think it was a great song. I thought it had a good feel to it and we demo’d it. The demo came out really good and, uh, but Rick and I never wrote another song. We wrote that one song together and it came out and it became a Top 10 hit. And, of course, Billy Joe Royal – I’d grown up listening to Billy Joe Royal so it was a big thrill to get a song recorded by him because he’s such a great singer. And that was like a ‘50s kind of a song and I was really into the whole ‘50s music scene, too, so that was a pretty special song. Yeah, I still like that one.

It had to have been incredible when George Jones recorded that song.

Yeah. That song has been recorded now three times. T. Graham – I wrote it with T. Graham Brown and Bruce Bouton. Bruce Bouton is a songwriter but he’s also a great steel guitar player. And we wrote Last Resort together as well, T. Graham and Bruce and I. And, uh, George, yeah – when T. Graham had that song he did a great job on it. Trisha Yearwood, by the way, sang the demo, which you ought to hear the demo. It’s really great, too. And then to get George Jones to record it! And then it just got recently recorded. Someone heard it on George Jones’ album and took it and recorded it. And that was Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent and their version is great. So I’ve been lucky on that song. That’s the, like I say, three times it’s been recorded. And I say it still, Trisha Yearwood’s version is right up there. I wish we could get her to record it because she did such a great job on the demo. And I think we paid her $40.00 (laughs).

Speaking of Gene Watson, he recorded I Catch Myself.

Yeah.

What was the inspiration behind that one?

That song I wrote by myself which is something I rarely do. I went through a little period there where I just took some time and sat back and wrote by myself. And I wrote that song which got recorded by Gene Watson, and another song called I Was Losing You that got recorded. It’s been recorded four times – by Wayne Newton, uh, I can’t remember who else has recorded it but – but, uh, I don’t know, that one came pretty much straight out, it just fell out of me. I didn’t start – usually I start with a title and I didn’t start with a title. I just started with the first line and, uh, and worked down and then when I got to the title it was a hook, ‘I catch myself’ and ‘I’ve fallen in love’ is what the kind of the hook was. And I didn’t have, but I didn’t have that originally. That’s the first time I’ve ever come up with a kind of a hook right in, you know, uh, in the middle of the song. The hook just kind of came out. And that, usually you start with a hook. Or usually I start with a hook. And, when by a ‘hook’ I mean a title or something, you know, and in that case I didn’t. So that, that was a rare occasion. And a rare occasion that I wrote by myself. I should do it more often because I really think you write a different kind of song by yourself than you do when you co-write. Uh, I’m not saying it’s a better song I write by myself but it’s just usually more heart-felt, you know? It’s not as, uh – it’s not been edited down as much sometimes, I think.

When you wrote the song, You Can’t Keep a Good Memory Down, which John Anderson recorded, did the title come first on that one?

The title did come first. I had that title and there’s an interesting story behind that song. I wrote with a guy named Roger Murrah and his brother Michael Murrah. And, uh, Roger was a guy who had had several hits already. He already was a pretty hot songwriter at the time. I was still waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant and Roger used to come in and I’d wait on him. Well, Roger drank iced tea, a lot of iced tea, and so I’d just keep his iced tea glass full. And so, one day after I’d been waiting on him – I’d never told him I was a songwriter and Roger, uh figured it out though, ‘cause I kept his iced tea glass so full and probably ignored some of my other customers because I was being so attentive to Roger – and he says ‘You’re a songwriter, aren’t you?’ and I said ‘Yeah! How’d you know?’ He said ‘I can just kind of tell that you were, you know, you spent a lot of time waiting on me.’ (Laughs) And I said ‘Yeah, I am.’ And he said ‘Well, you been such a good waiter’ he said ‘let’s write a song next week.’ And so I went over and we wrote, that next week, we wrote, that was the first song we wrote. So that was my first Top 40 record so I always tell people that I got my first Top 40 song not by being a great songwriter but by being a good waiter and keeping somebody’s iced tea glass full. I tell my students a lot of times, you know, even if you’re working a menial job you never know who you’re going to meet through that menial job, you know, and that might be the person that gets you to that next level. So always remember that when you’re out there waiting tables or running a hot dog shop or being a desk clerk, which are all jobs I had in Nashville before I was able to make a living writing full-time.

What about My Train of Thought?

That was a song I wrote with a guy named Michael Woody who was a – that was the only thing that we ever had recorded together, I think. But Barbara Mandrell recorded it and she was pretty hot. It was a Top 20 song and, uh, it was just an honor to get a song recorded by her because at this particular time Barbara had been on national TV and probably took country music – I think was probably the first female artist to take country music to the level, the national level like that. You know, Johnny Cash had had a TV show and I think Roger Miller had had something and Glen Campbell had had a TV show but, as far as I know, Barbara Mandrell might have been the first country artist to have her own TV show – The Barbara Mandrell Show or The Mandrell Sisters, I believe. I can’t remember exactly but, uh, she was an icon and, uh, was so nice, too. I got to meet her and get a picture made with her and stuff, and was just such a nice lady. And I’ll always remember that song because she did such a great job on it, too.

A lot of the artists that have recorded your songs are country singers.

Hmhmm.

But we can’t leave out the great Wayne Newton …

Wayne, man, Wayne.

… who recorded your song.

I get a call from a guy named Rhubarb Jones who was a DJ, a Hall of Fame DJ or a ‘radio personality’ as they call them now – as they call you now (laughter) – and, uh, Rhubarb said – he was good friends with Wayne and he said, uh, ‘Man, Wayne Newton is looking for some songs. Why don’t you send me some and I’ll send them. He called me and asked me to help him find some songs, and I told him I’d call some of my songwriter friends.’ So I sent Rhubarb the tape and, uh, he sent it on out to, uh, Wayne and Rhubarb called me back about a week later and said ‘Man, Wayne loves three of those songs you sent.’ And I thought OK, sure, great. Maybe I’ll end up with maybe getting one song recorded if I’m lucky, you know? Well, he said ‘Send me some more.’ So I sent Rhubarb some more songs and he called me back about a week later and he said ‘Man, Wayne likes two more of these songs. He’s coming to town in a few weeks and he’s going to record and he’s going to cut, record five of your songs.’ And I said – well, I still thought well there’s no way that will happen. He, maybe he’ll probably end up recording one of them, you know? But he really went in and not only did he go in, they called me up and invited me down to the studio so, you know, even though I’m not a producer at all, I sort of got to chime in on the songs. And he recorded all five of those songs. And I went on to write a couple of more songs with Wayne on another, for another project he was doing and got to know him. And, uh I’ll tell you he, speaking of nice people, he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, as far as an artist, you know? And when my mamma passed away this past, uh, August, I get a call one day. From all the people I’ve known in the music business at that level, you now, I didn’t hear from anybody but Wayne Newton called me and told me he was sorry to hear about me losing my mamma. And I kept that tape because that meant so much to me. And he’s a special person, he really is, and a great talent. Amazing. Obviously, one of the greatest entertainers of all time. And, uh, you know people, a lot of people make fun of Wayne Newton but I’ll tell you what – I’m proud to have those songs recorded. And he actually did one of them on The Roseanne Show.

Yup. Wow.

Yeah, and that was a pretty good, it had a pretty good run on TV and it made some pretty good royalties.

Let’s talk about another songwriter. Let’s talk about John Jarrard.

Wow. John Jarrard, uh, and I grew up together, uh, as I told you, and, um, here in Gainesville, Georgia. And John and I both got into country music at the same time and one – we didn’t even realize it. I used to see him at country concerts but we didn’t realize that each other had both started writing songs until one night he stops in at – I’m working as a desk clerk out of the Days Inn here in Gainesville, Georgia and, uh, he, uh, he stops in out there to see me. And I had my guitar behind the desk and he says ‘What’s – what are you doing with a guitar back there?’ And I said ‘Well, I play and write a little bit, you know?’ And he said ‘Well, I do, too.’ And so I said ‘You’re kidding!’ I didn’t – we didn’t have, we had no idea that – you know, we had grown up together and both went to the University of Georgia but neither one of us had any idea ‘cause he wasn’t real musical either. I’m, you know like I said, I was not a musical person, you know, growing up. He wasn’t either. And we both got into country music and started writing songs and so we sort of fed each other’s fire. In fact, we recorded our first demo, it was down there – and we had figured out that, you know, it’s always said the bathroom was the nearest thing to a recording studio if you were going to record. So we got us a reel-to-reel player and we went down and set up in the Days Inn bathroom and that’s where we recorded our first demos. And they’re god-awful sounding but they – you know, we fed each other’s fire is what I always said. And after I moved to Nashville first, he moved up there about eight months later and he would always say ‘You know, you’re the reason I moved to Nashville.’ And I would always tell him ‘Well, you’re the reason I stayed.’ ‘cause he had had, you know, he had great success. He had eleven #1 songs and, uh, I always felt like I was trying to catch up to him, you know? Because he got, he did such a, he had such an amazing career. And also, the guy was, you know, had a lot of physical ailments that – to hell and back – and he still was able to have eleven #1 songs. He was a childhood diabetic and so he had lost his sight. Uh, he had, uh – he lost his sight after he moved to Nashville, as a matter of fact. Uh, he ended up losing, uh, his – he had a kidney and pancreas transplant. Uh, he ended up having parts of his fingers, uh, removed and then both legs removed at the knee before he passed on about ten – well it’s been 12 years, 11 years ago, I believe, now. Almost 12 years ago now. But to be able to achieve all that he achieved with that was a true an inspiration, not only to me but, uh, you know, hundreds of songwriters in Nashville that he – that’s why we’re so glad to be able to have this concert that we have in his name here in Gainesville, Georgia now, and to keep his memory alive because he was truly a unique and amazing human being, you know?

Well, tell us a little bit about this concert. It’s going to be on September 15th.

Yes. We have it every year in the fall. We do this concert, we call it just The John Jarrard Concert. He and I used to do, uh, some benefits down here when he was alive and, uh, after he passed away they asked me to keep on doing these benefits. And I told them, I said well, the only way I’ll do it is if we dedicate to John, call it the John Jarrard Concert, and we donate it to the causesthat John supported while he was alive which were the Boys and Girls Club, Good News at Noon, which is a homeless food program, Good News at Noon Clinic which is a homeless medical program. And then we’ve gone on and given to some other charities now ‘cause we’ve made, we’ve raised over a million dollars in the 10 years we’ve been doing this concert. But it started out just real small. We had 30 tables of eight people, I think, so we had like 250 people at the very first one and, uh, and now we have about 1200 that show up every year. And we bring down songwriters from Nashville and it’s a songwriters show which is unusual because it’s not a headliner. Usually, we don’t have a big, you know, Garth Brooks or anybody like that coming down. We usually have just songwriters and people have really grown to love the show. Uh, like I said, the community supports it amazingly here in Gainesville, Georgia. Uh, and that’s one thing I said when decided to do it, too. I said I want to name this thing after John and have the right people involved. And we obviously got the right people involved because it’s just been a huge success every year. And we’ve now started a thing called “First Verse” which is a songwriting program that we’re trying to go in to schools and teach kids how to write songs because it’s such a, songwriting is such a great way to learn the language. I know I use a dictionary probably more than I ever did after I started writing songs, you know? And learned just so much about the language, you know? And, uh, and just discipline, you know – writing, how writing songs is such a discipline, you know? And, uh, a craft, you know? I think it really teaches you patience and, uh, sort of like putting crossword puzzles together, I guess, in a certain way. But, um, but we’ve done all this to try and keep John’s memory alive and carry it on into – keep songwriting, to make songwriting, to make people realize that there are songwriters out there. It’s not just about the artists, you know? That songwriters are the, I mean, they’re the lifeblood of this industry. You know, I still think even now, when so many artists are writing their own songs – still, to me, the best songs come from the pure, what I call pure songwriters, you know? That aren’t necessarily singers, you know, aren’t necessarily performers but they are the guys like the Johnny Mercers, the Irving Berlins, you know, the Cole Porters, you know, that never really were known as performers so much but were really more so known as writers. And I hope that we can keep that – that’s one of our goals of the John Jarrard Foundation, too, is to point out that fact and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it because we – like I say, it continues to grow every year.

So this is going to be September 15, 2012, at the Campus Green, Brenau University.

Yes.

Tell us about some of the songwriters that are going to be there.

Well, we’ve got, uh, Jim Collins coming who is, uh – he wrote, uh, Big Green Tractor for Jason Aldean. He wrote She Thinks My Tractor Is Sexy for Kenny Chesney, so he’s had a lot of love of tractor songs (laughter). He also has written, oh, several other songs for Kenny Chesney. And he just had a big hit this last year with, uh, oh I can’t think of the name of the group but Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?, a big country record this last year. It was probably the most played song of the year – by Thompson Station, I believe it was, that’s the name of that duo. And then we’re having Jeffrey Steele, who has probably had more songs recorded in the last 10 years than any songwriter in Nashville. Again, I’m not as familiar with all of his songs but Jeffrey will be there. We’ll have, uh – if you Google ‘Jeffrey Steele’ you can see, uh, his number of songs. I know he did write a big Rascal Flats thing – oh wait, I’m drawing a blank on the title. But anyway, we’re going to have, uh, Tony Arata who wrote The Dance, among many other hits he’s had, and a guy named Fred Knobloch who has not had that many hits but Fred is one of those writers who has had a lot of songs recorded. And he’s one of those writers that’s just a great performer-writer, you know? Some writers are not such great performers but this Fred is. And he’s coming down because he was a big John fan and a friend. And, uh, so we’ve got – that’s the four we’ve got nailed down. We’ll probably have some others that we’ll announce in the next few weeks but, uh, but we’re really looking forward to this year. I think it’s going to be another great year.

What is the web site for The John Jarrard Foundation?

It’s www.johnjarrardfoundation.com and you can go there and check up and get updates and who’s going to be there as we announce – we’re, we’re still two months out so we’re going to nail it down in the next couple of weeks as to who all we’re going to have there. But you can go to that web site and see, learn a little more about the songwriters. And I obviously didn’t prepare to tell you about the song titles today (laughs) – sorry about that.

That’s Okay (laughs). What is the best thing about being Bruce Burch?

Whoo! I can tell you a lot of reasons not to be Bruce Burch but I must say, the best thing about getting to be Bruce Burch is I’ve gotten to meet all of my heroes. Not all of my heroes but I got to meet a lot of my heroes. I mean, I got to meet Kris Kristofferson, you know? And get to know him and pitch his songs when I worked at EMI. And I told him one time. I said ‘You know, you’re the reason I’m in the music business.’ and he says ‘Don’t blame that crap on me!’ (laughs). And you know Kris and his voice, I – to hear him say that. But I got to meet Tony Joe White, you know? I’ve gotten to meet Wayne Newton. I mean, I’ve gotten to meet just a lot of people that I never dreamed I would meet, you know? Reba McEntire. Barbara Mandrell. I mean, and it still goes on, even today. I mean, I meet – I’m trying to think of somebody I’ve met that has just blown me away. But meeting a lot of my musical heroes and I think, you know, I got – oh! Johnny Cash actually did, on a Collin Raye song I had recorded one time, Johnny Cash actually did a narration part on the front end. We had written a narration part of it and he actually did that. So I can sort of say I had a Johnny Cash cut, you know? (Laughs) I guess, you know, I mean, that’s the best thing about being Bruce Burch is that I’ve gotten to make a living in music and the music business. And it has not always been easy, you know? I mean, I always say I did not have the talent but I definitely had the desire and the drive and the determination and the perseverance, I think, more than anything. I tell songwriters, I always like to say the thing that is really the most – I think the best talent you can have if you want to be a songwriter is perseverance because it took me seven years to give up my full-time job running a hot dog shop, and then it took me another three years to give up my part-time job of waiting tables and along with being a desk clerk in the early years I was in Nashville, or the first year I was in Nashville. So I did a lot of things to do what I wanted to do. I did a lot of things I didn’t necessarily like doing to be able to do what I wanted to do (laughs). And so, uh, it’s paid off even though sometimes the music business can be a grind. And it can seem – it’s tough. It’s a tough life sometimes. You can ask anybody, they’ll tell you, especially for your wife and family, if you have those, it’s not always easy being around a songwriter or living a songwriter life but I don’t regret any of it, ever, you know, because I got to do all of that. That’s the best thing about being Bruce Burch.

You’ve been involved – well, more than involved – you’ve been a very big part of the John Jarrard Foundation. You’ve taught people about the music business. You’ve written songs. You’ve plugged songs. A lot of people have crossed paths. Some of them we know and there’s countless others. Some of them are going to be listening to this interview. And there’s other people who are going to be listening that haven’t met you yet. What do you want to say to all the folks who are listening in, whether they’re listening on the radio or they’re listening on the internet?

Well, uh, I guess the best thing I can tell you, the best piece of advice I could give anybody is whatever their dream is, if you’re going to do it, you know, believe in it enough to give it time because it definitely – dreams don’t happen overnight. I mean, anybody that you see that’s doing what they want to do, whether it’s being a songwriter or, you know, running a big company or whatever. It takes time to work your way to that position. They didn’t get there overnight and I guess that’s – my daddy, uh, never had a lot of success as a businessperson but he was really a hard-working man. And my mama too. And, uh, that’s what I learned from them is just to work hard and try to keep believing in yourself even when (laughs) you don’t necessarily believe in yourself, you know? Fake it ‘til you make it, you know? I just really believe that that’s the thing that I, that my life has been about is – because I’ve struggled in the music business at times – but it’s to keep going and keep believing in yourself, even when you don’t (laughs) sometimes, you know? It’s just to try to keep that perseverance and, uh, sticking to it until you be successful. And success is, that’s another thing I’ve learned is success is, there’s varying levels of success. And you’ve got to find success in the little things because that’s what – you know, like now, my success now for me is having two grandkids, you know? And that, to me, when I see them that’s the thing I’m most proud of. More so than my songs or anything. And that’s the thing that I’m still learning, you know? I’m 59 years old and I’m still learning a lot about life and things like that, things that really matter. And success is a term that changes as you grow older.

Well, Bruce Burch, it’s been a great pleasure.

Absolutely! Pleasure for me, too, Paul, as always. Good to see you, buddy.

Thank you.

 

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA.

John Goodwin: Songwriter, Recording Artist

John Goodwin is an incredible singer-songwriter who has recorded his most recent album “Goodwin.” John Goodwin has recorded six albums, the newest record features a new direction with solo acoustic performances and duets with Jessica Andrews, Michael McDonald and Jeff Bridges. John Goodwin is also a visual artist–a painter and photographer. His songs have been featured in several major motion pictures including Crazy Heart, Surf’s Up, The Amateurs, and Tideland.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure we welcome our third time guest, Mr. John Goodwin, thanks so much for agreeing to do another interview with us.

Happy to be here with you, Paul.

My pleasure. You’re joining us here to talk about your new album entitled ‘Goodwin,’ anyone that listened to the last time you were on, you were playing some of your acoustic songs and you had this album out called ‘Nashville,’ and it seems to me, for my ears anyways that it’s a further evolution as an artist.  What prompted you to kind of make this change in your music to a more acoustic?

A lot of my CDs have involved other musicians andthe songs sounded like they were played with a band and I just really challenged myself and wanted to see if I could do anything I liked, sitting and playing, singing without a band, so I just went ahead and did it and started to like what I heard.   That’s what I do when I write a song and I’m always enjoying that so I figured like, why not just go in the studio and do it.

What aspect of making music excites you the most?

The emotional rush I think, you know, I think anybody that picks up a guitar and starts singing and playing something they are inspired by or want to play gets off on the whole experience, it’s your hands, like, playing a guitar, it’s your voice and the coordination between, you know, your voice and your hands, and you know, the end result and, you know, your mind’s working and, you know, you’re expressing yourself and it’s a real, a real emotional rush, just to sing and play.

Do you find that as you are creating music, do you find that you get more, or less interested in seeking out new music made by other artists?

I’m always listening to other artists and new albums, constantly checking out what’s coming out, you know, I’m looking for that ‘thing’ that really excites me, you know, my interest in other artists has not diminished at all, probably increased a lot as I continue, you know, writing and recording.

The interesting thing about the different albums that you’ve released over the years is the different styles of music that you’ve played, ‘Part Of Me Will Never Grow Up,’ is kind of like, a Reggae song, you have a couple of songs like, ‘A Place In My Heart’ that is definitely Country, and lots of Rock n Roll, I want to ask you, what musical period or styles do you find yourself the most drawn to? I know you like everything, but is there something that resonates most with you?

I think it’s more like, what I consider to be a great song in a particular time in my history as a person, you know, I’ve been deeply, deeply into Rock ‘n Roll, deeply into R & B, deeply into Country a long time ago, when country was a little more genuine and sincere, you know, I started a couple of years like, really being into Metal when it was like Black Sabbath and you know, real, like seminal kind of Metal sounds and Reggae I got way into.  So every music that’s really touched my life, all done so equally has brought out those things in me.

I wanted to talk about a couple of the songs on your latest album, ‘Goodwin’, I think my favorite song on the album is ‘Butter MintSweet.’

Something like twenty years ago, I just started writing on my guitar this little classical piece and like, that’s the end of the first section, you know, you want to play another section, there’s no lyric to it, it’s just, it was just you know, all guitar and I just developed this little song which had no lyrics and I really liked it and I forgot about it for years and then I found it again and just started writing lyrics to it, so this has been a work in progress.

You actually recorded it as a duet, as far as your discography, this was the first album that you have with duets.

Absolutely, it is and I wish I’d done more of it, because I really like singing with friends of mine and I’m going to do a lot more of it too.

Two other songs on the album that are duets, in one of them, you remarked earlier that you were especially proud of it, it was a duet with Michael McDonald ‘When The World Was A Child.’

I was in a coffee house or something like that and kind of, crowded place and I saw this Mother walked in with her little child, little infant, you know, but walking and the child was holding the Mother’s hand and it just seemed to me, like you know, once upon a time the world was an innocent child, you know and just look at it, everything, you know, like new eyes and stuff like that, so that was the inspiration to start writing the song and once I got started I don’t think I could stop until it was finished.


Is there a song on the new album ‘Goodwin’ that you are especially proud of, a favorite song?

Well, I have many favorite songs, I think most artists, when you record an entire album and spend a lot of time on it, eventually you find songs you’re not as in love with as you were when you wrote them and recorded them, but actually there are a lot of songs on this album that I really like, just because of the purity of the performance and the purity of the song. I’d like to say there’s one song that I safely think is my favourite, but there are quite a number, quite a few songs that I really, really like here.

You couldn’t pick a favorite though?

Well, I wish I could, I mean, it would make it simpler for anybody to listen to the record, but I have to say that I really am proud of a lot of them.

There’s a song on there ‘The Blessed One’, I noticed this on the last album. Both this album and the last one, it seems like there’s an exploration of spirituality almost?
Yes.

What inspired you to write ‘The Blessed One’?

Kind of a deep, deep subject here, because, a lot of times I feel like people are not appreciated until they’re gone and we obviously have historical examples of that, we also have examples of that in our everyday lives, and we know of singers and songwriters who aren’t universally known, but really believe that they deserve to be as much as if not more than people who are extremely well known, so you know the whole inspiration was like, you know, ‘don’t abuse the blessing, don’t overlook the blessing,’, you know that was kind of about it.

What are the other songs on the album that are light-hearted and fun songs, well, depending on how you look at it, I really got a kick out of ‘Lime Green Speedos,’ and, again, kind of like, as far as you exploring new avenues, the last album also had a comedy song, ‘Monday I’m Starting My Diet,’ but tell us about ‘Lime Green Speedos.’

Well, ‘Lime Green Speedos,’ I forgot exactly where that song started it might have started with a rhythm on my guitar that I started playing and you know, and the subject suddenly came to me that, you know, I’m going to lose all this weight and surprise everybody, and you know, in summertime, when I show up at the swimming pool in my lime green speedos, it amused me, interested me and moved me enough, you know, to just throw as much as I could at the song as I was writing it, you know, the song you referred to on the last album, ‘Monday I’m Starting My Diet,’ that song and ‘Lime Green Speedos’ both have to do with, like, being overweight and trying to do something about it, which, a lot of people have that problem, more like I have to go on a diet and put back what they lose, stuff like that, so, you know, these were just dealing with that whole issue you know in the most light hearted, emotional way that I could, you know.

I also wanted to talk to you about a song that you wrote, that was featured in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  tell us about that song ‘Hold On You’.

I’d love to, I also want to say that on the new album the duet I did with Jeff Bridges, which I’m extremely proud of, you know, really, it’s just two old friends singing about life and what a beautiful day it is.I love that song.  The song ‘Crazy Heart’ goes… I was lucky enough before the movie was made to be invited out to LA to spend some time with Jeff and the Director, writer of the movie Scott Cooper and  T. Bone Burnett, during the course of the week that I spent with those guys, like, I started writing ‘Hold On You’ and T. Bone started writing it with me, and eventually, I left town and he brought a couple of friends in and they all finished the song together and I’m amazingly proud of that, it was just a highlight of my life.

I wanted you to tell us about the experience you had out there, you said that you’ve recently been feeling the winds of inspiration kind of to start performing again?

Yeah, haven’t quite gotten out there and done that.  The last time I performed was at this huge birthday party in LA, back in, in December, my whole path as a writer is a little bit wierd cause I spent most of my time just writing and recording but continuously writing and continuously recording, you know, and I sort of didn’t do a lot of playing out even though I enjoy it, what I do is, I’m trying to motivate myself to go out there and do it, it’s usually, you know, a lot of fun for me and the people in the audience when I do, but it’s just one of those humps that I’m kind of stuck behind right now.

Is there any artistic or musical avenues that you haven’t explored that you have an interest in pursuing?

Aaaah man, there’s so many, you know, writing on other instruments, instruments that I don’t particularly play, you know, bongos or whatever, every time I pick up something new and start playing with it, most of the time some new kind of music comes out, for me, the most interesting thing that I really want to do a lot more of is just improvisational songs, in other words songs that aren’t written, so you turn on a tape recorder and you sit there and you just play and sing, and I can do that pretty well. I haven’t done that a lot but I have a fantasy of like recording like, a thousand songs that way and be sure to share the results with you when I do that.

You mentioned the last time I was talking to you that you’re already thinking about the next recording project. What do you see in the future?

Ohhhh it’s looking good, at least, you know, by my standards looking really good Paul, I’ll tell you why, because, I’m sure I don’t have time to tell you about the whole recording process that I went through with this new record I made, very briefly with this amazing engineer in Nashville, gave me just an unlimited free use of his studio,  just because he likes what I did, so I went there many, many, many, manytimes and had all the time in the world to lay it all out and from everything I recorded I chose the songs that would be on the album called “Goodwin.” But this thing, I think the record’s been done for about three months now, I’ve written seven or eight songs that I think there as good as anything I’ve ever written in my life and I’m really excited, think I’ll go and probably sometime in late May or early June and just try and cut an entire record in three hours with songs that I’ve written that I like since I finished the last album.

Is there any particular reason that you say to do it in three hours like that?

Yeah, once again it’s challenge, you know, to do something in real time like, you know, when you turn on the radio and you hear a three minute song, you’re actually living in the illusion that a bunch of people went into the studio and played and sang for three minutes and there the song was, but you know how it works these days, like, you know, there’s dozens if not a hundred hours recording parts and pieces and bits of it and adding stuff and people coming into the studio over weeks and months and eventually you have what seems like a real three minute song, that’s really not, it’s like, you know, thirty seven hours condensed into a three minute experience, so it seems like, to go in there and play it straight, you know, from top to bottom, it’s a challenge.  I think Bob Dylan recorded ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ in one day, I believe that’s true, and of course I think the Beatles cut their second record in one day too, so, there’s no reason, if you can present something that’s a performance, it’s why it shouldn’t literally be a performance, and not this massive collage you know, which is, you know sometimes over thought and, I want to be something not an illusion, I want to be something that is like literally a performance.

That will be very interesting to hear. I hope that everyone out there has kind of gotten a little picture in their mind of what it is that  you mean.  On that note you just mentioned Bob Dylan, last night I was talking with friends and I wanted to know your opinion on, in your mind anyways, who are the greatest songwriters?

Well that’s a tough one, you know, because some people like Bob Dylan that have written many, many, many extremely brilliant, wonderful songs, and there are other people who have written one or two in their entire career, but they’re, they’re wonderful songs too, so, you know, I can’t say someone who would be prolific and amazing, for me has been any better than somebody, you know, loving one or two great ones and being amazing, because when you’re listening to the songs, just in the middle of, for you, it’s an amazing experience and you don’t think about the other two songs they wrote that were great or the other ninety five songs that were great, I mean, you can only listen to one song at a time, so that’s the way I’m feeling music as a listening experience.  Oh I could name a hundred people, whose music I absolutely love, man, like, you know obviously Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, the great songs that Smokey Robinson wrote, the Stones, man “Beast of Burden,” you know, there are French pop artists like Jaques Brel, phenomenal songs, I have to say that, you know, if I had to list my favorite songwriters or acts, there would be at least, at least a hundred names on it, because they all touched me extremely deeply.

Not just of the songs that you wrote, but just in general, is there a song, or a couple of songs that have just tremendous meaning to you?

Oh yeah, but Paul, like, there are like, so many, so many songs that just have deep, deep meaning for me, it would be really tough for me to say you know that there’s only one or two, but the song Michael McDonald wrote and recorded called ‘Matters Of The Heart,’ which I just think is burningly brilliant or you know, “Papa was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations, or you know, I cannot really say here’s my top five, any one of those top five, any one of the 95 behind that you all all have great meaning for me…

I wanted to ask you when somebody listens to the new album, ‘Goodwin,’ what is it that you hope they get out of the experience of listening.

Well, I hope they like what they’re hearing, from the beginning of a song to the end of the song, I was trying for a certain kind of purity from the performance, you know, but for people who don’t know me who are hearing this, I’d just like them to know that this record, like every record, is a transition period and I just happen to document by writing and recording the song.

It’s been a great pleasure to speak to you as always, always great talking to you, but before we go is there anything you’d like to say to all the people listening out there?

Well, like I said the last time you interviewed me, I think you asked me this question and I’d just like to say that I hope you’re all having a good day and doing things that you really love to do, what more can you say to people or want for people?

I do remember you telling me that, you said you hope everybody has a good day because good days are the building blocks of a good life. When I heard the album I was listening to the duet with Jeff Bridges, ‘The Good Day Song,’ and it made me think of that conversation.

Yeah, (John laughs) I know what you mean, you know, totally what that song was about, it was such a joy doing that with Jeff. He’s such a generous soul and so deeply appreciate him, he’s making a lot of my days really good and has for many years.

He definitely captured I think, your friendship together. Hearing you do the duet with him, I remember years ago when I was listening to your music, and it was right after I had been exposed to his music.  Has it ever been a passing thought about performing with him, or maybe collaborating with him on an album?


Yeah, I think that’s very  likely to happen, in fact the last few times we performed, we were both at parties, Jeff was there and we both played songs, I think he inspires me to go out and perform, I love collaborating with him, we’ve written many songs together which I totally love and totally look forward to anything we do together, it’s just such fun and we’ve been doing it for years so I think you can probably look forward to that.

Everyone out there can check you out online at babyrecords.com and again, thanks so much for the interview, always a pleasure to listen to your music and always a pleasure to talk to you.


Paul, I’m really glad that my music has found you and that you like it so much.  It means so much to me.

It means a lot to me too and have a good one, a good day.


You too man.  Good days, you know.

TRANSCRIBED BY ROSALIND WINTON

Marshall Chapman: Songwriter

MARSHALL CHAPMAN is one of the absolute greatest songwriters.  I had pursued an interview with her for years, and finally an interview took place in Decatur, Georgia.  Her album Big Lonesome was one of the greatest albums released in 2011.  The album was a memorial to the great songwriter Tim Krekel

PART ONE

PART TWO

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to welcome singer, song-writer, recording artist, spoken-word artist and author, Marshall Chapman.

And now ‘actor’.

And now ‘actress’ – right (laughs). And she’s just released her newest album, Big Lonesome, as well as her second book entitled They Came to Nashville.

Right.

It’s a great pleasure.

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Paul.

Who is Marshall Chapman?

What a question. Marshall Chapman is a six-foot tall, skinny white girl from South Carolina who went to Nashville, who loves music, who at age 62 is still out there having, like, the year of her life. Um, I’m having a lot of fun right now. If I had known you could have this much fun at my age I would have relaxed a lot more when I was in my 20s and 30s. But who is Marshall Chapman? You know, I’m probably the last person to ask that. Tim Krekel said it best. Uh, the song we wrote, Sick of Myself, it started as an email from me to Krekel. I just was thinking I really was sick of myself that day. I was thinking if I could be somebody else for a day, maybe two, who would it be? Tim Krekel. I’d like to know what it’s like to be laid back and cool / To play that guitar the way that you do / Like your soul is connected to every string / And the whole room starts swaying when you’re playing that thing. And then two hours later, he emails me back. Well I’m sick of myself. I’d like to be you. Would you trade places with me for a day, maybe two? And you asked the question ‘who is Marshall Chapman?’ and I think Tim Krekel answered it in that song. He said I’d like to know how it feels to be regal and tall / To charm a whole room with that Carolina drawl / To rock with a purpose like ole Jerry Lee / While wearing your soul on your rock and roll sleeves. And if there’s ever a tombstone to mark my passing, those are the words I want to have on it.

Sometimes music says things so well. So from the Marshall Chapman album, Big Lonesome, Sick of Myself, here on the Paul Leslie Hour – the beautiful thing about this album is that the songs, to me, they seem to be very cohesive.

Thank you.

I can relate to all of them. I didn’t know Tim Krekel as well as you do but as someone who knew him, they all seem to go together. So what do you think about the album, Big Lonesome?

Well, I just think it’s, by far, the best album I’ve ever made. And I tell people, you know – first of all, I wasn’t going to make another album. I was really burnt out. I was writing a book. Um, I’m a contributing editor to Garden & Gun magazine – weird name, I know. Um, I have a column with National Arts magazine. So I’ve been writing a lot of prose and that seemed to be a very quiet, contemplative kind of life and I was enjoying it. I was even joking, telling friends of mine that I’ve tried not to write songs because if I write them and they’re good, I’m going to record them. If I record it and it’s good, then my ass is back out on the road. I know how to nip that off in the bud. That was my thinking. And then Tim Krekel was diagnosed with cancer – died within three months of his diagnosis. He was my best friend in music – probably best friend period – and we were very close. And it rocked my world, Paul. And the only thing that seemed to comfort me, going through that experience of Tim’s death, was picking up my guitar. And every time I did, a song poured out. And when I wrote Tim Revisited I just thought I’m doing to do an album and I’m going to make the best album I can possibly make to honor my friend, and that’s what I did.

So let’s play it – Tim Revisited, from Big Lonesome. [song plays] We’re talking to Marshall Chapman. The album starts off with the title song and in the liner notes it says that it was recorded in a Pullman car parked in Union Station?

(Laughs) Correct. I mean, I had a friend named Tommy Spurlock. He’s now down in Austin, Texas but he actually was living in one Pullman car, then right behind it was another Pullman car and they were parked right on a track behind Union Station in Nashville. And he had converted one into living space and the other one into a recording studio. But even though he had the walls padded, when the trains would move in the train yard, you’d have to stop recording because you – it, the noise would bleed through the walls. So it was a real challenge to record there but I think Dave Olney recorded in there with him and also the guy that wrote, um, Wild Thing and Angel in the Morning – Chip, Chip Taylor – I think recorded an album there with Spurlock. He had it briefly and then he kind of just took off for Austin and disappeared. And so, when I decided to do this record, I didn’t have a copy of the, you know, multi-track of that song and I knew I wanted to include it. I had gotten in contact with him and he couldn’t find it. He looked, he couldn’t find it. So I – finally I sent him a check just for his troubles and sometimes money talks (laughs) but, uh, within a week he had sent the ADAT tape of that. We converted it to Pro-tools and the amazing thing was when we were listening to it in the studio, I was – I co-produced this album with Michael Utley, who I love working with. And the reason I chose Michael was because Michael and I co-produced Love Slave, which is probably my favorite studio album until Big Lonesome and now Big Lonesome is my favorite. But anyway, we went in the studio and when we were listening to, uh, converting it to Pro-tools, I didn’t realize Tim’s voice – you know, we were just in the train just goofing off. We had written a song, we were demo-ing a lot of songs, but I liked the way Big Lonesome sounded. And it’s one of my three favorite songs. We’ve written a ton of songs together but there are three that are my favorite that I’ve written with Tim. One is Big Lonesome, one is I Love Everybody, I Love Everything and the other one is Sick of Myself which actually I finished after he died. I mean, he – it was just an email, sort of a love email from me to him and him back to me, and I kind of thought it should be in the shuffle. And then when I decided to make the record, you know, I sat down and put it to music.

Just a moment ago you mentioned Michael Utley who co-produced the album. What’s it like working with him?

Oh, he’s just – well for me it’s just heaven. We work really well together. Mike’s a very positive person and um, and he digs what I do, you know? I mean, I’ve always said happiness is hanging around people who dig you. I don’t purport to be everyone’s cup of tea so, uh, happiness is hanging around people that like you and I like Mike. We were neighbors at the time. He’s since moved to California much, much to my chagrin but he lived right around the block. So I said, you know, I want to do this album to honor Tim. And, of course, we had all been in Buffett’s band together. That’s really when I got to know Tim Krekel. I may be answering one of your subsequent questions but, um, we were in Buffett’s band in 1987 and that’s when I really got close to Tim. He was my favorite person to hang out with, ‘cause with Jimmy, by then, there was a lot of days off.

Yeah.

So you’re hubbing out of some city like Chicago or New Orleans, you know. Jimmy had it down by then. You’d be in, you’d be in some great hotel in New Orleans and you’d hub out and go play Biloxi and you’d go play Houston and you’d play New Orleans and you’d come back to the hotel, with lots of days off in between gigs. So you got time to go to museums and go see movies so we starting hanging. He was just an easy-going guy.

My favorite song on the album is Falling through the Trees.

Ahh, you have good taste.

Yeah, I do (laughs). I pride myself on that.

You do. No, you have depth, man. Thank you. Falling through the Trees – actually, I wrote that when my last album came out, Mellowicious!, which was sort of an experiment and, um, I was working with a guy that was sort of the synthesizer king of Nashville and I learned a lot doing that record. And after doing that record, I was just convinced that this record would be completely organic. Falling through the Trees, when I realized that last record wasn’t going to make it, um, I was just heart-broken because I had invested so much into it. and, uh, I just woke up one night in the middle of the night and wrote that song. And it’s, you know, it’s about the death of a dream. And the same thing, really, is the Cindy Walker song – Going Away Party – so I just thought they were great bookends. They just seemed to flow so well, one into the other. But Falling through the Trees, if there’s one line – you know, I’m sitting there talking about the heartbreak of when dreams die but the line that saves it is I wouldn’t have it any other way. That keeps it from sliding into victimhood …

Right.

and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it’s cool that you mentioned that because William Gay, the novelist, who’s my favorite writer in America, he listened to the album early on and that was his favorite – Falling through the Trees – and he’s the deepest cat I know.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah.

Well, I think nobody said it better than Todd Snider when he said, uh, ‘The album is sad but not hopeless.’

Yeah, ‘like blood on the tracks.’

Oh, I thought that was a perfect description of this album.

Yeah. Todd is like my brother. I love him.

One of the other songs on the album is a cover of Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

Right. Well, you know I was down in Mexico. Um, Tim and I were supposed to go to Mexico and play a bunch – we had a bunch of gigs booked for that summer and he died June, you know, it was June 24th or June 26th of 2009 – and we were supposed to go to Mexico and play some gigs. I have a benefactor in Mexico that flies me and my husband down there and puts us up in a house with, like, a cook, maid service, pool – all that. And it’s on a mountain overlooking of San Miguel, which – San Miguel is on a high mountain plain at 10,000 feet. And people think ‘You’re going to Mexico in July?’ You wear a sweater at night. It is so fabulous. It’s so magical and it’s always been a magnet, that town, for poets and dreamers. It’s where – Jack Kerouac used to hang out down there. In fact, Neal Cassady, that’s where he died, in San Miguel. He got hit by a train down there. It still is a real magnet but – help me keep on track, OK?

(Laughs) Oh, yeah.

But anyway, so I got down there. Tim, the promoter, my benefactor/promoter – when Tim died, we had a plane ticket for him and Debbie to fly down there with us – he said ‘I can understand if you wouldn’t want to come down tonight.’ I said ‘I need to come to Mexico. I’m coming.’ So I wrote that song, Down to Mexico, on the plane flying down there. And when I got down there I played a benefit and then I played a private party at this guy’s house and a benefit called ‘Feed the Hungry’ or ‘Feed the Children’ – yeah – and Tim was supposed to play it with me and I played it by myself. But, um, after the second gig, this expatriate from Mississippi – and there’s a song in there called Mississippi Man in Mexico that was also written, I wrote that on the plane flying home – but we went out to this rancho outside of San Miguel, Rancho Jaguar. And we get there and it’s in this field but this guy grows, he cultivates cacti, cactuses, that he, you know, ships all over the world. And he, uh, he’s from Mississippi. He’s also a great cook and he had dug all these pits that he had mesquite logs burning in them, and when we got there they were hot coals. And he had all these doves he had shot that he had wrapped with bacon and he was roasting them over those mesquite logs, and he just prepared this feast for us. And it was just one of those nights – you know, there’s no night pollution down there. We’re out in the country. You can see all the stars and the moon was full. And I leaned back after that meal and this one little single cloud in the sky moved across the moon and it turned purple. And I thought about Hank Williams. And in that moment I wanted a guitar to materialize in my hands because I wanted to sing that verse in I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, ‘the moon just went behind the cloud to hide its face and cry’. And I was thinking about that song because I used to sing it. I used to sing all these songs. I used to know about 350 songs by heart before I started writing my own songs. You know, I would play in lounges and sing these songs and I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry was one of them. But ever since I started writing songs, I quit singing them. And so, that night I’m at my benefactor’s house with his teenage son, Mark, and I started – there was a guitar there and I just started singing all these songs I used to sing, just to see if I could still remember them, before I started writing songs. Songs like Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer, Bob Wills. Songs like Bye Bye Love, the Everly Brothers. Songs like, uh, Don’t Be Cruel, Elvis Presley. Songs like Every Day by Buddy Holly. From Four Until Late by Robert Johnson. To Be Alone with You by Bob Dylan. Uh, all these songs that I just love. And I couldn’t remember the words to I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry so his son downloaded them off the internet. And for the next few nights – we were staying in this house that had this big courtyard and it had great echo in it, you know, like natural echo? Like Sun Records – and I’d get up, because I had my guitar with me, and I’d sing I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry in there and it just sounded so great and it was exactly how I felt because my friend had just died. So I just knew, you know, when I wrote Mississippi Man in Mexico, I knew that song was going to come right after it and it just seemed so – they just, they sounded so good together.

You nailed it.

Yeah. You know, I’ve had a lot of people tell me, you know, and I put that augmented chord in there and I don’t think anybody – I know Hank didn’t have it in there but there’s been probably 300 people record that song but I don’t think – and I think BJ Thomas’s version was pretty good but I’ve had a lot of people tell me that this version is their favorite. Somebody said it’s their favorite along with BJ Thomas’s. But, uh, I think, uh, when we recorded this, man, it felt so good. I felt that Hank was probably smiling.

Wow.

Yeah. I felt like we did it justice. And I do feel like that song has the most beautiful quatrain ever written in a song which is The silence of a fallen star / Lights up a purple sky / And as I wonder where you are / I’m so lonesome I could cry. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that. I probably answered three or four of your questions.

No – great answer. Great story.

Alright. What’cha got?

There is a book that you have and it’s called They Came to Nashville.

Right.

It’s a collection of interviews. One of the chapters I thought was very entertaining. It’s the Willie Nelson chapter (Marshall laughs) and you’ve got a track on the album called –

Don’t give it away! Well, it’s interesting you bring that up. The new CD and the new book were released on the same day but, unlike my first book when we released a companion CD, this new CD was about Tim Krekel. But there is one connection to the book and it’s what you mentioned. It’s riding with Willie. I spent three days on Willie Nelson’s bus trying to interview him for the book and we won’t give away what happens but, you know, I write an intro for each chapter. Each chapter is a songwriter I’ve known. Each chapter I write an intro. Some of the intros are a paragraph long, a half page long. Well, the Willie Nelson chapter, my intro is 46 pages long. And you know, some of the critics have described it as up there with Hunter Thompson as far as rock and roll journalism because, man, I was out there. I did not sleep one minute while I was on the bus. I was literally hallucinating when we pulled up to the Beaumont Holiday Inn. And when we did, as often happens when I’m in a state like that, these words starting coming and they were pretty cosmic, more cosmic than I usually write. You know, When everything is swirling around out of control / And everybody’s down to their very soul / Dancing to the rhythm of the universal whole – I don’t think I would normally write a lyric like that unless I’d been on Willie Nelson’s bus for three days, because let me tell you something. You don’t have to partake, you just breathe, OK? It’s there. So I was probably out there in my mind a little bit when I wrote that. But I just wrote it as two verses and kind of a chorus. I thought it was a poem. I wasn’t even sure it was a song. And then exactly a year later almost to the date, when I decided I was going to make a record to honor Tim Krekel, I was sitting at my desk and ‘I thought I need to look at those lyrics.’ And I finished the song, writing two more verses about what happened on Willie’s bus after the Beaumont show, which is – I don’t know about you but if I was 75 years old and been touring for three weeks playing one-nighters, and just played a 2½ hour show, and signed autographs and done everything, I would go crash in the back of my bus. I would not do what Willie did which was he went back, took a shower, changed into a size XXX Snoop Dog black T-shirt and came out in black socks with his guitar and walked to the front of the bus and sat down with him and his sister Bobbie, who plays piano in his band. And he said ‘Somebody get a Casio.’ And they got a little Casio and put it across my lap and hers. And by then, we were going along a bumpy stretch of Interstate 10 near Houston and I’m trying to hold it still. And she and Willie proceeded to play for about 2 ½ hours, like from 2:00 to 4:30 in the morning.

Wow.

They were playing instrumental songs that they used to play, trying to see if they still knew them. Um, a lot of Django Reinhardt, he played Nuage, uh – it was just magical. And so, when I came to finish riding with Willie, sitting at my desk a year later, that scene of him – of him and Bobbie playing those songs – played a big part in that last verse.

The album closes out with I Love Everybody. This is a live cut and it was recorded at a music club and bowling alley.

Yeah. Music club/bowling alley. The Vernon, the great Vernon in Louisville, KY. Yeah, Tim had first told me about that place. He said ‘God, you gotta come here and play. It’s this great new club. It’s in the basement of a bowling alley.’ Of course, when I was playing it that night, that recording was – they hadn’t quite finished renovating the club so the ball returns for the bowling alley which was upstairs were going right over your head. And you could not only see the bowling balls you could hear them, so it was pretty rock and roll. You know, when it finished the record, the last song I had was – I thought it was a studio album, all new stuff recorded in the studio. And then I remembered Waylon Jennings had that album, Dream of My Dreams, which was a great studio album – which I think probably was his finest record – and he put that live cut, Bob Wills Is Still the King, that he had written on the bus and played in Austin that night. And I thought ‘You know, that’s kind of cool, having a live cut at the end of a record.’ And for some reason, you know, it’s kind of cosmic, too, with Tim – the fact that this was to honor him and that he had died – to end it with a live cut. It’s almost like the whole album is sort of cathartic and just goes through the whole process of coming to terms with his death and then ending it with something live. That just seems so appropriate. I don’t think I was even thinking about it as logically as I’m expressing it to you now. So that’s what I decided to do. But when we first finished it – we had played the Belgian Rhythm and Blues Festival. Tim came and it was like – I had a band called the Love Slaves. It had two lead guitar players. One of them couldn’t go so I took Tim Belgium and we played the Belgian Rhythm and Blues Festival. And there’s a great track that the Belgian radio has recorded but it wasn’t 24-track. They were kind of mixing it in their mobile unit as we went along. And so I had that on the album. And then I called Debbie because I wanted her to hear the album. And Tim was playing harmonic on that track. And she and her sister were driving from Florida back to Louisville and they were just 10 miles out of Nashville when I called her and I said ‘Hey, let’s meet for lunch.’ And we did she said ‘You know, there’s a live track of the last time you and Tim really did play together. You know, when the band came up and joined you, like write about in Tim Revisited. I said ‘You are kidding.’ And she said ‘No. they got a 24-track.’ So that night they overnighted and I called Utley and we went back in the studio. That was an expensive piece of information, I might add ‘cause I opened up the whole – I thought I was through with the album. We went back in and there was one little train-wreck place that we cleaned up and, uh, because it was 24-track, but that’s pretty much – I thought it was so cool to have the actual last time I played with Tim Krekel close out this album.

Amazing. Real quick last question.

OK.

I’m going to ask you the same thing I asked Tim before we ended our interview. This interview will be heard by people from all over the place …

OK.

and now read. What do you want to say to all the people?

Well, if you don’t know about Tim Krekel, he’s a great singer-songwriter, band leader, that worked out of Louisville, KY. A little bit more R&B than country but he could play it all. And if you don’t know his music, I recommend you start with the two last CDs. It’s almost like part of him knew he wasn’t going to be with us much longer because, you know, at an age when most people are phoning it in, Tim was upping the ante. I couldn’t believe the albums he was making, like Angel Share. I mean, come on. So go out right now. Go to Amazon and order World Keep Turning and Soul Season. It’s a very ‘stacks- kind of 60s-they buried Wilson Picket in my backyard’. You’ll be glad you did. That’s what I got to say.

Thank you so much Marshall Chapman.

Oh, thank you, Paul.

TRANSCRIBED BY GAYLE BRAZDA