Stories and tips
8-17-00 First Gig
Im gonna tell you about my first gig,
but first let me take you back a little so youll know where I was comin from.
- Winter Haven, Florida, 1974
the doors on a competition motorcycle shop which I co-owned with my high school sweetheart
who was about to become my ex-wife. Nearly broke and broken from all the fun Id had
and thinkin my life was pretty much over, I jumped into the
Camaro and headed North. My intention was to find a quiet vantage point from which to view
my demise, and after wanderin through hell and half of Georgia for a few days, I
found myself early one mornin sittin on a cliff near the top of
Chattanoogas Lookout Mountain
lookin out and wonderin how many
seconds the thrill might last when I saw the light
"here comes the sun, dut, du
shinin on the first day of the rest of my life!
- Well, there I was just a couple hours from
Nashville; Id written three "songs" five years earlier, and next to
whiskey and women and cars and motorcycles and speed
music had always been
the most important thing in my life. So I drove on to Music City and became a songwriter!
Well, more accurately
I started sayin I was a songwriter. Perhaps I
Id never really made music, I listened to music.
Oh, Id tried
playin trumpet badly for several years in school (I never
learned to read music), and I played around with a guitar for a couple months til I
broke some fingers racin bikes
but I always loved music, especially songs. So
I hung out in all the songwriter hangouts. Sayin I was shy when someone handed me a
guitar, I listened (the real songwriters loved that). I began carryin a
little notebook and a pen wherever I went. I asked questions now and then, but mostly I
just listened. And I wrote
not songs, just thoughts, words and phrases
until I hooked up with a musician Id known from Florida. He loaned me an old
classical guitar and showed me a few chords. Then I played and played and played, but I
couldnt seem to learn other peoples songs. So, with the scribble from my
little notebook and that ol "gut string", I started songwriting!
- My buddy told me he played music with some
other guys once a week and invited me to join them. We became "three guitars and a
guitar". Since they were tryin to learn a new song every week, I started
sharin my new songs! One of em worked at the Middle Tennessee State
Mental Hospital ("Central State"), and one night he informed us he was
bookin entertainment for a patients picnic and asked if wed be
- Okay, you guessed it
my first ever
"gig"! The pay was all the food and soda pop we wanted, and best of all
had a captive audience! It was weird, but it was fun
I sang and played my own songs.
Most everyone was smilin (maybe medication?). Feet were tappin, and I heard
some folks singin along (not necessarily the same song).
- Was it a success? Hey, they let us leave!
After such an off beat beginning, I suppose I might have seen my future bouncin off
the left field wall, but all I could see was me on the road to becomin a
- Did I mention I was already 30 years old?
Just goes to show
It aint over til its over; Were never
too old to start somethin new; We all gotta start somewhere and
Songwritin, like livin, is a verb!
- Which reminds me of the first time I wrote
with David Schnaufer, but thats another
so, yall come back in a couple weeks.
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