Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gentle On My Mind

The picture was taken in 1966 when I was 12. I was asked to visit a nearby school and play for an English class. It wasn't my first gig but it was the beginning of neighborhood fame. That is an album cover. The title is the humorous response to, "Whatever happened to that kid?"

The guitar is a Stella 12 string. It was a big beastie but I was a determined kid. A few months later, my sister friend and I would pass the audition to play for the Cerebral Palsy Telethon at a local TV station. Being kids, they put us on in the middle of the night. Ralph Embrey, a famous Nashville impressario was hosting. The next morning at ten, I would be roused from where I was sleeping on the floor to come see Ralph who told me someone had called and would donate $5 if I would sing "Gentle On My Mind" on camera. Having no fear then, I did just that. Ralph then looked at me and said, "Your Dad called that in" then asked "I know Glen and he can't remember all the words to that song. How do you do it?" I told him, "My Dad asks for it a lot."

Dad didn't want me in the music business. He said it was a rough game and I had too many brains for it. We were asked that morning to come to Muscle Shoals but my parents declined and for the better or worse, it would presage things to come. I would play it one last time on TV three years ago on a morning show when the host who remembered me playing it for his father on TV years earlier in the 80s asked for it. I told him I didn't think I could remember the words, but he insisted and I did. Dad got up early that morning to watch it proud as he could be.

A year later as Dad lay dieing, I sat in the next room and sang this song for him. We can't know why we remember all the words until we need them. Then life is clearer and all the moments that didn't make sense do. Art isn't about fame. It is about service, reflecting emotions so it will make sense.

I did see Glen in an airport many many years later and was on the flight with him. I didn't introduce myself because I have a rule about not being rude to famous people, but I think I would have liked to tell him the story. Dad would have liked that too.

1 comment:

Amber in Albuquerque said...

Great post. Man I love that song. I'd never heard it with the banjo before. Best wishes and prayers.

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