Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Rose Of A Different Name

Some of the most incredible days of my life were spent hanging out in Nashville during CMA Awards week events several years ago with many of the greatest songwriters in Country Music history. Meeting songwriting legends like Mickey Newbury and Billy Joe Shaver is cool enough in anybody's book, but actually hanging out with both those guys and playing songs with them was truly special indeed.

Mickey Newbury and I were deep into a conversation at a Music Row event when somebody got my attention by asking me if I was from Canada. He had overheard my conversation with Newbury and had noticed my accent. The individual asking me that particular question was songwriter Stewart Harris who said he was quite familiar with Canada and that in fact he had once spent an entire summer gigging in Prince Edward Island playing music on alternate week-ends at a small pub in Summerside called The Brothers Two. We were both stunned and amazed to discover that I’d been the performer playing the other weekends at that very same pub during that same summer.

I was born and raised on Prince Edward Island and performed there often when I was younger, but still, it's a small world sometimes.

My good friend and former songwriting colleague Jim McBride wrote one of my favorite Waylon Jennings singles from the mid 80's called Rose In Paradise and Stewart Harris is actually the co-writer on that song as well. You recall that song. It’s one of Waylon’s biggest hits.

Here's a live version of it with a few of Waylon's pals joining him. [Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler, The Everly Brothers & Emmy Lou Harris]

But getting back to Mickey Newbury and Billy Joe Shaver. We had a great time just hanging out around Music Row with Mickey tellin' his stories and Billy Joe expressing amazement and gratitude just for still being alive. At one point, Billy Joe asked me to play him a bunch of my songs, so we sat down - just the two of us - in the music publishers little 16 track studio and I played for about an hour while the great Billy Joe Shaver sat directly in front of me listening intently to every word of my songs...he then stood up and looked at me very serious saying..."man, you're tough...those are great fucking songs".

The picture evaporates at this scene as the nod of his respect began to blend with his famous titles and I started to hear his songs almost playing out loud in my head and it just drifted me away to a whole different dimension...I'm just an old chunk of coal, but I'm gonna be a diamond someday...I've been to Georgia on a fast train honey… Then, the Jim McBride /Stewart Harris song from Waylon Jennings kicked in and Rose In Paradise met A Rose Of A Different Name...

Speaking of Waylon, he says he hopes ya'll liked him and everything, but even if you didn't, he will still kick your ass. Dead or alive…Hoss.

Alright, so Mickey Newbury finally...which will probably have you asking yourself, was Mickey Newbury one of the most talented songwriter/artists to ever draw breath…? Well, let's see now, he wrote An American Trilogy for Elvis Presley as well as the big Kenny Rogers & The First Edition hit Just dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In among many other, hearing Mickey Newbury singing his own stunning version of An American Trilogy, I'd have to say...yeah...he most definitely was...

"Music has never been anything but an escape from depression for me. How many people have listened to my songs and thought, 'He must have a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a pistol in the other.' Well, I don't. I write my sadness. I call it robbing the dragon. I write what I think. If you don't write what you think, what you write you become." - Mickey Newbury


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