You’re No Townes Van Zandt

PreacherBoy_7

It was a classic bar heckle, and it happened at Jerry’s Front Pocket earlier this month. But the story doesn’t start there. The story begins in Colorado, at the Durango Songwriter’s Expo, back around Y2K days.

I don’t normally attend events of this nature, but the missus and I were livin’ in Colorado at the time, my manager was keen on amplifyin’ my songwriting efforts, I’d just come off a run of lovely publishing mojo courtesy of my work with Eagle-Eye Cherry, and so we figured, why not? Let’s go be a pro songwriter …

Lots of meetings with agents, lots of listening and perfoming, and lots upon lots upon lots of song critiques. Which leads to the beginnings of my story. I was on a Townes Van Zandt kick of fairly epic proportions at the time, and apparently that was in evidence on my new demos. What happened was this, in a room of some 30 songwriters, a to-remain-nameless publishing VP listened to my tune, announced that it sounded a great deal like Townes Van Zandt, then said to me, “But you’re no Townes Van Zandt.” Shades of Lloyd Bentsen, what?

Well, the room let out the requisite groan, and we moved on.

All was not lost, however. I killed it at the closing show with –if I do say so myself—rippin’ good versions of Spaceman and Comin’ Up Aces.

And I also met my certified brother-of-another-mother soul mate Colin Brooks. In another song critique session, this was the song he played:

#NowPlaying Nobody by Colin Brooks on @Rdio: http://rd.io/x/Rl7WwEErUMw6Xg/

And I was completely, totally, floored. Just incredible stuff … Colin and I ended doing a lot of writing together, including this one:

#NowPlaying Wheels on the Ground by Colin Brooks on @Rdio: http://rd.io/x/Rl7WwEErUOGw0w/

Colin is a king high motherfucker. Plain and simple.

Anyhow, fast forward to Jerry’s. Announcing the next song over the mic, I said to those assembled something to the effect of, this song was my attempt to write a Townes Van Zandt song. To which someone in the crowd responded, “Do you know any REAL Townes Van Zandt songs?”

Damn …

PB_SettingSun_Still

Anyhow, here is a live recording of the song in question, recorded live at Aptos St. BBQ just last week. The song is called “Seven’s In The Middle, Son” and this performance includes an appearance by a wonderful accordion player. Please click the link below to listen:

Seven’s In The Middle, Son: recorded live at Aptos St. BBQ

What’s particularly delightful about this whole saga, is that the individual who heckled me at Jerry’s, happens to also be the accordion player on this recording! So of course I told him the Durango story, and it was in fact him who reminded me of the Lloyd Bentsen bit, which if you know your political debate history, was an awesome slice of political pie.

Anyhow, the point is, I’m still trying to write Townes Van Zandt songs, and I hope you like this one! Lyrics below (and p.s. the heckler/accordion player is none other than Jon “Captain Ahab” Dryden!):

seven’s in the middle, son

made a deal with a strange man
he could deal his deck with either hand
winked at me and said goodbye
then switched his patch to the other eye

i did my best to play my song
but he stopped me before too long
took my guitar off my lap
tuned it up and then gave it back

rise and shine, and give god the glory, glory
rise and shine, and give god the glory

wrapped himself in an overcoat
silver necklace ’round his throat
rattlin’ keychain in his pants
sounded like bones when he danced

i faced myself in the mirror glass
swear to god i heard him laugh
felt his name rise in my gut
seven years of bad luck

rise and shine, and give god the glory, glory
rise and shine, and give god the glory

he said “seven is in the middle, son
pick a side and ride that one”
like jewels hangin’ on the vine
it’s a pendulum that’s drowning time

i lay my head down window-side
neon lights like a reaper’s bride
i tried to sleep beneath the black
of the space behind that devil’s patch

rise and shine, and give god the glory, glory
rise and shine, and give god the glory

he put a shiver in my soul
shook my hand and froze it cold
walked me ’round that endless shore
’til i knew i’d never been before

i hear him singin’ from the road
it’s a children’s song he knows i know
i lay myself down on the ground
emptied both my ears of sound

rise and shine, and give god the glory, glory
rise and shine, and give god the glory

 


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