Hello fellow players,
Several subjects I want to touch on today. First off, I’m writing this on June 21st. Ever heard of Solstice? We’re having it today. The longest day of year, the first day of summer and the day I celebrate my birthday. I was actually born on December 21st, but that date is always cold, gloomy and snowy along with being the shortest day of the year.
So I changed my birthday several years ago and enjoy June 21st much better than December 21st. I guess I could call it my birthday and a half. My parents could never figure it out. I remember telling my father how disappointed I was having my real birthday so close to Christmas. He acted really hurt as if the whole thing was planned anyway.
He always said the pregnancy was planned, but nothing was really planned in my life after that, so I ended up doing all the planning ever since myself. The day I was born there was a screaming blizzard coming out of Canada across Lake Erie and the only steel guitar player at my birth was my Uncle Doug.
My mother had a log book of who showed up at the hospital with a gift and as important as that day was to me, it sure was a miserable day, but being the shortest day of the year, it didn’t really last too long. It was a year before the Japanese flew to Pearl Harbor and another six months after that before the battle of Midway where we turned the war around by sinking four of their carriers.
My father was in the middle of it and was assigned as a musician on the battleship Indiana where he spent a good part of the war.
Now let’s get up to current events like George Jones or his wife Nancy firing their steel player of 28 years, Tommy Killen. Tommy is a wonderful person and as good a player as a road band could ever want. Nancy and George wanted the entire band to sign a confidentiality agreement and not let out any band secrets.
Two of the band members wouldn’t sign, so they were promptly released from their duties. The piano player, Kent Goodson, a very wonderful player with a great personality along with being a wonderful singer was one of my employees when I was band leader for Stan Hitchcock at Twitty City in 1984. When he left us, he went to work with George. I’m sure he did a lot to be as good an employee for George as he was for Stan and I.
I have to question this decision. However, steel guitarist and great friend Van Coffee was hired to replace Tommy and I’m sure he will do a good job, as his playing will fit George very well. Also Van is an excellent bus driver. The funny this is, he wasn’t even looking for a steel guitar job when this one popped up. That’s the way it works in Nashville. You gotta be here to get a job and it seems like most of the time, it’s kind of luck when you do.
Somebody mentioned hearing me and loving what I did on the early Mickey Newberry albums. We recording these at Cinderella Studios in Madison. We did almost everything on the first take, no track stacking, punching in, over dubbing or anything other than the song comes by and you just play it.
This does not include the tracks that Weldon Myrick and I did where we stacked several tracks of fuzz tone to simulate violin parts which Weldon being the senior player, worked out for me to follow. Weldon and Mickey were very great to work with and his great projects circled the world upon completion of the albums.
Mickey worked very, very hard to come up with the great songs he wrote, like Heaven Help The Child, She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye, I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In and many other great songs that we turned into hits. Mickey was a wonderful friend I will always miss.
His writing made me think about steel guitar players that are wanting to be better players. This is something you have to work very hard at to do well, work continuously and think about all the time. But then that’s the secret to doing anything you do. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
I remember when I’d go to Mickey’s house he was always writing down weird funny things that I was saying. I was always trying to be funny and just generally being a wise guy. He never had that notebook far from his hands and when I’d ask him what he was doing, he’d say, “Those are good thoughts you’re saying and I can possibly use them in something coming up.”
I said, “Do you do this often?”
He said, “I always have a loose leaf notebook close at hand, even watching commercials on television. I take my ideas wherever I can get them.”
I said, “Well I guess that’s where American Trilogy came from.”
He said, “I actually wrote that song because you told me I’d never get away with it. I just wanted to show you that I could and would. It was the idea of putting these songs together where I won. The songs of course were already written and everybody knew them well.”
I kept thinking he’d never get away with it, but when Elvis recorded it, it sold a half a million and I realized Mickey knew more about writing songs than I did.
So if you want to be a great steel guitar player, work hard, think out of the box and never stop learning. That’s why I’ve created so many teaching videos and studio tracks for you to learn from and practice playing along with. Take advantage of these tools.
If you’re a good steel player and play commercial, you’ll be successful if you work hard.
Check out our monthly specials at http://www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
Steel Guitar Nashville
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Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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