Flying home from Nashville triggered a memory. When I first moved to New York City in the 1970s and was a starving artist, I tried desperately to earn a living doing anything other than wait tables...
Flying home from Nashville triggered a memory. When I first moved to New York City in the 1970s and was a starving artist, I tried desperately to earn a living doing anything other than wait tables. So, I decided to compose lyrics for country & western songs. Now keep in mind that I am not a musician. I don’t play an instrument, and I can't read music. I can barely carry a tune. Yet I convinced myself I could make a small fortune writing the lyrics for best-selling country songs heard on radios across the country.I sat in my tiny studio apartment at the wobbly-legged table and scratched out lyrics for weeks and weeks. I had a folder filled with surefire hits. I could imagine musicians in Nashville getting into arguments or even fistfights, battling over who would get the opportunity to put melodies to my poetry. I wrote a story song about a waitress at a truck stop in Tulsa who got stabbed and died in the arms of her forbidden lover. I wrote about the terrors of going on a blind date with a marginally sane woman who drank too much and wrecked my new Impala. I wrote about bluetick hounds sleeping under a rusted pickup truck, beer brawls, and burying my sweet, dear wife on the lonely prairie. I was convinced I would make wheelbarrows full of money so I could afford to live in NYC and pursue my dreams of becoming a theater artist. I mailed the bundle of masterpieces to every publishing house in Nashville, and I waited for the accolades and money to roll in.
“Wrapped in the gossamer wings of grace.”
Every single publisher, manager, and musician rejected my lyric poems. They returned the envelope with a red stamp: No Solicitations. Some institutions didn’t even bother responding. Except for Tom T. Hall, God bless his soul. He actually took the time to send me a letter gently suggesting that I seek another line of work. His response was not a form letter. It was typed on a piece of stationary, and at the bottom was Tom T. Hall’s signature and a hand-written scribble: Good luck! I lost the letter years ago, but I still remember the man’s kindness.Of all the corny stories and sappy lyrics that I wrote, one line still lingers in my memory: Wrapped in the gossamer wings of grace. I think that line is pretty darn good. If a country & western singer or composer is reading this book, I offer that line up to you: Wrapped in the gossamer wings of grace. I would love to hear that sung on the radio.