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"when I Jump Off The Cliff..."


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The more I think of it, the more “When I Jump Off the Cliff I’ll Think of You” strikes me as a good entry in the National Australian Bank contest. It is aspirational and upbeat, like they said they wanted (though it’s aspirational in a rather weird way). I’d heard the bank was interested in the winner as a theme song for the bank (their contest information doesn’t say so, however), but this song would work for that, too--from an advertising man’s standpoint, you could nail the competition with it.

Of course, the bank would have to have a sense of humor (one would hope that people who live in the same country as kangaroos would develop a sense of humor). I practiced my advertising trade in a rural area, working for a country newspaper, and country folk are fond of self-deprecating humor; some of my ads got entered in national contests (though they never won). I don’t know if National Australian Bank have got too urban (or urbane) to take advantage of it.

At least, it doesn’t cost a dime (Australian or U.S.) to enter the contest. One is out just the cost of manufacturing the CDs and the few bucks in postage to send them halfway around the planet. My kind of contest. Of course, if I did win, I’d have to get to Australia somehow to record the song with a real band in a real studio. If that kind of opportunity happened, I just might be able to manage it. We would have “Help Joe Get to Australia” CD sales like you would not believe.

Which version of the song to send? There are two—the one I recorded on the Tascam, with me playing lead and rhythm guitar, that got sent to American Idol, and the one Wayne is recording for The New CD. The latter should be technically a lot better, but I haven’t heard it yet. (Another reason to call Wayne.)

This does beg the question why I would be interested in going to Australia on my own nickel basically to record a song for National Australian Bank (to which they would own all rights) and not be interested in going to North Carolina on my own nickel to perform a song at the Hank Williams Festival (to which I’d retain all rights)? Well, one good (but unexpected) reason is there isn’t a Hank Williams Songwriting Contest any more—hasn’t been since 2006. I’m too late—should have entered “Hank’s Song” back when I had a chance. Some of these things are very ephemeral--something to keep in mind for the future.

There will still be a Woody Guthrie Festival, apparently—the Oklahoma Songwriters & Composers Assn. is working on plans for the 2009 festival (and contest), and maybe it’s something I should save up the time and money for. (They’ll get “Free-Range Person,” my song about the advantages of being homeless.) If I don’t win, I don’t have to go (early July in Oklahoma, I think, is probably not a pleasant experience).

Why contests? It’s attention-getting, mostly—an opportunity to reach a wider audience in a different place. It’s like I’ve honed my material at local gigs, and showcases, and open mikes, and am going to take the best of it (or some of the best) on the road, and see how it stacks up against the Big Boys (or at least Bigger Boys). That’s one reason I like to do contests where “entering” includes or consists of performing live, rather than sending a CD somewhere that may at best get heard by a handful of people. So I’ve done the Wheeler County (OR) Bluegrass Festival, and county fairs in Tillamook and La Grande, and the Oregon State Fair, and played at Pineyfest in Nashville with at least one music bigwig in the audience.

One thing I haven’t done with any of these contests is follow-through. I have played, and I’ve won some, and have gone away, leaving people (hopefully) wondering “Who was that masked man?” Bad move. They should know who I am, and how to reach me, and know that I’ll be back before they have a chance to forget (because given a chance, they will forget—people do). I should experiment with a small one (the Portland Songwriters Assn. has one with a 12/31 deadline) and see what I can pull off.

UPDATES: The “innerview” of Country Rose by Danny the dog is done. It is over 20 minutes long, but I hope it’s entertaining. Danny asked some pointed questions (in Danny fashion, of course) about the future of the music business in these Internet-ridden times, and where unsigned writers and musicians “on the make” fit in—so hopefully, it’s useful as well as entertaining, and maybe we’ll get to do more. Like Danny says, “One small pawprint for dogs…”

Joe

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