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Schedule & Co-Writes...


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One of the folks who’d reviewed this year’s Christmas song, “Song for Polly and Glyn (A Man for Christmas),” told me he’d listened, and re-listened, thinking “There has to be a dead reindeer in here somewhere.” I think I just got given the lead-in for next year’s Christmas song. Thank you.

Spec’d out a recording schedule with John; tentatively, we’ll do the scratch tracks for the album Jan. 23 & 24, with me (guitar and vocal), him (bass), and Chris (drums). John says his portable recorder can hold the whole dozen songs without trouble. He wants to do the Southern Pigfish songs at the same time (and I’m game). Goal is to have both albums done by September, which would be in time for the Christmas market.

Lynn Orloff’s “Wildflowers” is musicated. Bluegrassy—though it can’t be true bluegrass, because nobody dies in the last verse—and almost a polka (but not quite fast enough). You’re not supposed to have electric guitars in bluegrass music, so I put one in anyway—the lead is done on the Strat. And Lynn liked it.

It is another of those songs that really should be sung by a girl—the fourth in a row of those, in fact. The so-called “Underground Joe Club,” which maintains they like the kinkiness of an old, fat guy singing sexy girl tunes, would no doubt be pleased. (Lynn would like to arrange to have it recorded by a girl—ideally, Polly Hager—before taking it public. I understand and agree.)

That brings up to 17 (I think) the number of people whose songs I’ve musicated: April Johns, Beth Williams, Betty Holt, Bill Osofsky, Derek Hines, Diane Ewing, Don Varnell, Donna Devine, Gem Watson, Jody Dickey, Jon Harrington, Lynn Orloff, Marge McKinnis, Odd Vindstad, Polly Hager, Regina Michelle, Stan Good… I’m sure there’s a couple I’ve missed. Add in Bobbie Gallup and Scott Rose, with whom I’ve co-written things that I’ve also done the music for, and it’s 19. Some of those were one-shot deals, some two; with Stan, it’s been many. In each case, they were great lyrics (I have high standards). These are good writers.

The Industry Professionals say you have to co-write if you’re going to make it in Nashville; the “co-writing fever” seems driven by people wanting pieces of the writers’ copyright fees more than anything else (and the result—songs that sound like they were written by committee—isn’t pleasant)—but having multiple authors each trying to pitch the song to everybody they know obviously multiplies marketing efforts, too. I just think being able to work with others is a useful skill to have.

I am providing a useful service to the lyricists (there’s the Virgo rising again—I must provide useful service). Lyrics alone just aren’t marketable any more—one has to have a finished product (despite all that “co-writing fever” in Nashville)—so I can provide an effective (I hope) delivery system for the lyrics that gives the lyricist something he or she can pitch. There are benefits to me, of course. I never have to write anything serious (and I’m paranoid about writing serious stuff—words are weapons, after all, and mine tend to be sharp), because these other folks are doing it—and I can assuage my serious tendencies by musicating their serious stuff. And I can preserve my reputation as the guy who doesn’t take anything seriously, because even if I’m performing their stuff, it’s their stuff, not mine.

More stuff to do—mostly from a paperwork setup standpoint: I want the income taxes ready to be filed right away, and the “FAFSA”—the document every college uses for student financial aid—ready to go as soon as the taxes are done. I get to wrestle, too, with the State of Oregon’s brand-new job application system, that appears designed deliberately to cut down on the number of people they have to interview. (I like challenges.) Another radio spot (tomorrow), thanking everybody for their donations to the Food Pantry and for coming to the Christmas Show. No music this week, but maybe I can play Sunday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week.

Joe

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