Monday, April 14, 2014

Servant Of The Song

For a song to be a work of art that is revelatory in nature, it needs to have written "you". In other words, the writer must humbly get out of the way, to be used only as a channel by the spirit of the idea, so that it's hidden truth can be exposed to the light. Mumbo jumbo…??…!! After all these years of doing this day in and out, this is the mystery key I’ve been given to this spectacular art form. We hear a lot of songs out there, but how many of them tear you down and build you up in the three or so minutes, so when it's finished, you've been changed forever. That song had the power to do that. How did it get that power..?? It got that power because the person involved humbled him or herself as a bearer of a message instead of only being the writer of a song. – Chris Gantry 

Kris Kristofferson   Chris Gantry    Dolly Parton

Today songwriters are terrified to be alone with their thoughts. They huddle together and keep writing the same song over and over. I had an epiphany at a very young age that Songwriting is a Godly gift, and if rightly viewed as something He did instead of something I did, then the two of us could form a co-writing partnership as long as I let Him be the captain of the ship and I the first mate. The world’s best songwriters know not to tinker with lyrics or melodies whispered into their ears by angels. To me, the first line of the song should be as close of a transcription to whatever it was the angel delivered to you at that first moment of heightened inspiration. It's the idea that you're in the 'music business' that screws everything up. Take care of the song and the rest will take care of itself. Recognizing inspiration, and respecting "that you're only the conduit," is what separates shallow songs from meaningful ones with lyrics that pry open the human condition. - Chris Gantry


YOUTUBE LINK: Chris Gantry performs "Allegheny"

Guest appearance on The Johnny Cash Show 1971

Songwriting is a 'Divine experience'. The Muse doesn't say a damn thing about pickup trucks, river banks, or drinking moonshine/whiskey/beer with your bros on a Saturday night. - Nashville Outlaw


I started writin’ this song about Chris Gantry...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Haunted Palace

Combine Music 16th Avenue Nashville TN circa 1987

    In the greenest of our valleys
    By good angels tenanted,
    Once a fair and stately palace—
    Radiant palace—reared its head.
    In the monarch Song’s dominion,
    Holding forth beyond compare
    House of Quill Repute and Vision 
    Muse and Poets mingled there

Kris Kristofferson & Bob Beckham - Combine Music

Banners rippling, glorious, golden,
    On its roof did float and flow
    (This—all this—was in the olden
    Time of craftsmen long ago)
    And every gentle air that dallied,
    In that sweet and tuneful day,
    Grew in spirit those who gathered,
    Guitars twanged for servant’s pay.

Frank Trainor signs publishing deal with Combine Music
Group of Nashville, home of the Kris Kristofferson
and Larry Gatlin catalogs. – Music Scene

   Wanderers in that happy valley,
   Through two luminous windows, saw

   Spirits moving musically
   To each guitar’s well-tuned law,
   And round about a throne there, sitting,
   Well befitting, 
   The ruler of the realm was seen.

“I don’t sign someone just to sign them. I have to
believe in their long-lasting talents.” – Bob Beckham
    All with gold and platinum glowing 
Was the open palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling brightly evermore,
Troops of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king. 

    But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
    Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
    (Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
    Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
    And round about his home the glory
    That blushed and bloomed,
    Is but a dim-remembered story
    Of that old time now entombed.

Combine Music songwriters Frank Trainor & Mel McDaniel

And travelers, now, within that valley, 
Through the stain glassed windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale paneled door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.

Bob Beckham (July 8, 1927 - Nov 11, 2013)

Bob Beckham 'total integrity' The Tennessean

Bob Beckham Dead at 86 CMT News

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Everly Brothers 1983 Reunion Concert

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Other Side Of This Life

Moody, bluesy, and melodic, Fred Neil was one of the most compelling folk-rockers to emerge from Greenwich Village in the mid-’60s. His albums showcased his extraordinarily low, rich voice on intensely personal and reflective compositions. His influence was subtle but significant; before forming the Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian played harmonica on Neil’s first album, which also featured guitarist Felix Pappalardi, who went on to produce Cream. The Jefferson Airplane featured Neil’s “Other Side of This Life” prominently in their concerts, and dedicated a couple of songs (“Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil” and “House at Pooneil Corner”) to him. On the B-side of “Crying” is Neil’s “Candy Man,” one of Roy Orbison’s bluesiest efforts. Stephen Stills has mentioned Neil as an influence on his guitar playing. Most famously, Harry Nilsson took Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” into the Top Ten as the theme to the movie Midnight Cowboy.

For all his tangential influence, Neil himself remained an enigmatic, mysterious figure. His recorded output was formidable but sparse. During 1964 he recorded as a duo with Vince Martin, which yielded an album for Elektra, Tear Down the Walls. His drumless solo debut, Bleecker & MacDougal (which did have additional instruments), ranked as one of the best efforts from the era in which folk was just beginning its transition to folk-rock. The bluesiest of his albums, it contained some of his best songs, including “Little Bit of Rain,” “Other Side of This Life,” and “Candy Man.” His true peak was his follow-up, Fred Neil, which made a full transition to electric instruments. Less bluesy in tenor, it featured “Everybody’s Talkin’,” as well as an equal gem in “The Dolphins.”

Neil’s subsequent slide into obscurity was strange and quick. Sessions, from 1968, was a much more casual and slapdash affair that included some instrumental jamming. Always a recluse, he retreated to his home in Coconut Grove, FL, after achieving cult success, and didn’t release anything after a live album in 1971. His obscurity was enforced by an absence of domestic compact-disc reissues of his best work, a situation rectified with a superb best-of compilation by Collectors’ Choice and the 2001 reissue of Tear Down the Walls/Bleecker & MacDougal by Elektra. He continued to play, but only for those close to him. Neil, ill with cancer, unexpectedly passed on July 7, 2001, at his home in Florida.

- Richie Unterberger (All Music Guide) H/T Fred Neil

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Desperados Waiting For A Train

Hey Guy...what's goin’ on man...?

You must be waiting for a train…

I know it takes a lot to laugh...

Naw…I'm just wonderin' why every well I've drilled has gone dry.
I'm always snappin' at the dog & cryin' at the Andy Griffith Show. Whoever said the hand is quicker than the eye has never tried to brush away a tear or ever had his hand burn for a Randall Knife.

Hmmm...I believe you…and trust it’s true

But in the meantime...

I'm gonna start my pickin' right now...

Just tell me where you'll be...

Desperado pointed down the road and said, Eternity!

Eternity…? said Frankie T with a voice as cold as ice.

That's right, said Sam ...Eternity!

Though you might call it Paradise.

I don't call it anything, said Frankie T with a smile.

All right, said Blake, I'll see you after awhile.

What kind of house is this, I said, where I have come to roam?

It's not a house, said Beckham. It's not a house, it's a home.

Chris Gantry, Tony Joe White, Billy Swan, Bob Beckham, Dolly Parton,
Kris Kristofferson - Combine Writers Reunion - photo credit CJ Flanagan

But what was really cool was our CMA week open house...hanging out and diggin' in to fresh New York deli trays flown in special for Sir Charles Koppelman and Marty Bandier...lot of silver limos on the row that week...anyway, we're all hangin' and who walks up to join us but Mickey Newbury and Billy Joe Shaver...and then Stewart Harris asked if I was from Canada and it turned out that he had actually spent an entire summer in the early 70's playing a steady gig in my home province. He worked every other week-end alternating with some other singer who - as it turns out - was me.
We never met because our paths had never crossed but I always wondered just who that other dude was who worked those other week-ends I was off. We met for the very first time 15 years later standing in that Combine/SBK parking lot talking with Guy Clark, Mickey Newbury and Billy Joe Shaver. How about that for mystical coincidence, eh...? Even Robert Earl Keen Jr. thought that story was crazier than Copenhagen. I even played a few of my songs for Billy Joe in the Combine studio. He said; "'re tough...!"
Yeah…well, there ain't nobody tougher than you brother Shaver.

And how about Tony Joe White rockin' the house in Belle Meade at the Cockeyed Camel with Steve Cropper & Duck Dunn settin' the hook in the swamp with TJW & his Lightnin' Hopkins that's what I'm talkin' about...later that week we threw down with a "crappie fry" at Leanne & Tony Joe's out in Franklin. Great gigs up in Louisville also with songwriters Alan Rhody and Don Henry.

Nashville is a songwriter's sacred ground...

I was the pilgrim wasted on the sidewalk...

I was also Billy Dee
…17 when I turned 21…

It’s a long tough difficult story but I had to beat the devil...

So I jumped a greyhound in ’72 and set off to find Kristofferson.

15 years later, I set my suitcase down at Combine Music.

Music City Row. To keep the chilly wind off my guitar.

Did I sign my contract in Kris Kristofferson's office...?

Is that some kind of a trick question...?

Ain't you come a long way...