Mighty and the Ring

Mighty’s Easter Gift
by Wilbur Witt

In the late nineties a young woman, her three year old son, and two girlfriends were racing across Jonesboro, Arkansas to a Christmas party. They apparently ran through a stop sign, crossing into the path of an SUV, which slammed into the side of their small car, killing the mother, one of her friends, and pitching the baby out through a side window, skidding him across the highway, bouncing him off a chain link fence, finally depositing in a field with two broken legs.

His parents were divorced. His father was staying with us in Texas. We got the call at noon, during Christmas dinner. The information was confused, and we were sure little Michael was dead, as was his mother. I stayed back in Texas to maintain the house, but everyone else rushed to Arkansas. When they got there the doctors told them that the baby, while being scraped up a bit, and with two broken legs, was going to be fine. There was no logical explanation as to how he got out of the car during the impact. The doctors said he just flew across that highway like Mighty Mouse. The baby became known as “Mighty.”

Mighty’s dad became a police officer. Later he would go to the Middle East to fight terrorists as a private contractor, and remains there to this day. We raised Mighty in the big house at Berry Creek. He walked slightly bow legged, due to his injuries, and he loved to eat. In later years it was hard to get that boy up for school, and if you didn’t stay right on him he’d miss that bus every time.

Our family was Catholic. In the second year of my marriage to Mighty’s grandmother I had become Catholic. I wanted the four boys we were raising to have a good moral structure, and I found that attending Mass provided for that need. My boys fell right into the flow of the church. They had Father Everette, and all the people there, and Sunday was actually fun.

Years and tears went by, my son Bobby died, Timmy turned to drugs and went to prison, Wilbur did well in the Navy, but he lived in California so we rarely saw him, and Michael went over to Afghanistan to find Bin Laden. As you already know, Jackie came and went, and between my wife’s heart attack, and Jackie’s legal problems the family was devastated.

We hardly noticed little Mighty quietly growing up, not attracting much attention to himself. He loved to run up to the Country Club where there was a concession stand that served burgers outside, and Mighty had an open account I had been very strong in my faith, but after all that happened I fell away. I still believed in God, but all the trappings of the Church were not as important to me anymore. I never questioned what had happened, I just adjusted and went on.

Mighty eventually moved into his father’s new house about sixty miles away. While his dad worked his job overseas, he lived with his dad’s girlfriend. He began to go to the Church. Then, quietly, he began to take his classes. Last night, he brought the family together to witness his confirmation. They all stopped and watched as Mighty made his mark on the family. During that ceremony, he showed my now ex-wife a ring. I wasn’t there. Im very distant from the family now, and haven’t been to church in years. The ring he showed her was a simple thing. A little silver thing with a cross on it. He told her, “Grandpa gave me this when I was a little boy. I saved it for this day.” Then, he slipped it onto his finger. I don’t really know where that ring came from. During the confusion of that awful Christmas it wound up on my desk. I had never seen it before, but i kept kept it in a desk drawer until the boy was old enough to keep up with it because I suspected that someone else had worn it on that eventful day so long ago in Arkansas.

Tips For Successful Blogging; Content and Delivery

A Note About Content and Delivery
by Wilbur Witt

This may be the dullest article I’ve ever written, but it needs to be said if for no other reason than the subject keeps popping into my head and I know the only way to remedy that is to write about it. The subject is content, or moreover, what to say when you have nothing to say. Bloggers, YouTube video producers, songwriters, you name it, are all driven by one thing and that one thing is the desire to produce their particular form of communication every day. As a beginning songwriter I had this fear that if I didn’t write at least a song a day the muse would depart and I would lose the ability to ever write another song. I’ve talked to a lot of other writers and that worry seems to be universal. This is why in a typical songwriter’s catalog you will find a very few very good songs embedded in a score of what we used to call “mill” songs. A mill song has good rhyme, meter, fair melody, everything that a song needs, but it just doesn’t “pop.”

Sadly, this is the bulk of material that most aspiring musicians head to Nashville with. It impressed family and friends back home, mainly because few people can even play a guitar and fewer still can string words and music together and make something respectful come out the other end. When they get to the big leagues they become disappointed because most of their collection is mill songs. What they fail to see is all songwriters have that. The difference is the successful songwriter recognizes this and continues to produce material in the confident knowledge that about one out of fifty songs will be the one the producers will say, “Play that one again for me, will you?”

Time was when you bought an album one, possibly two songs were the ones you wanted and the other eight or ten were straight up mill songs. They were filler, placed on the vinyl because you made more money selling an album than selling a single. Steve Jobs put an end to this with the introduction of iTunes. If you will note, although entire CDs are there for purchase, you are not chained to just that one option and may cherry pick any song you wish. An “A” grade songwriter can grind out any number of mill songs on request and the studios depended on that to fill albums for all of their one hit wonders that were being pushed at the time. Even the Beatles had their share of mill material, and if you don’t believe that just force yourself through “The Long and Winding Road” a couple of times and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Blogging has its mill songs, too. Ninety percent of the blogs I read are just paper filler, but I’m not inferring the blogger should wait until the best of the best flows from their fingertips. If they did that they would rarely write and they would never sharpen their skills. Just realize it for what it is. Don’t think you are endowed with some power that makes every grocery list you scribble down a masterpiece destined to change the direction of the Western World.

But how does one arrive at good content? What are the factors that, when properly blended, make people want to read what you have written? Well, first of all you must identify your audience. When I was doing my shows at Pennington Lounge in Nashville my group of followers were mainly middle aged men who had come with their families to see the Nashville scene while on vacation. These men had been walking all over OpryLand, all day, with their wives, children, and grandchildren, and while that was uplifting, I’m sure, long about ten o’clock, while the women folk were putting the kiddos to bed in the room, old Weird Wilbur was taking the stage singing about naked women and beer! http://youtu.be/A-21WPoqTfA And that was just about as close to Nashville’s wild side as these guys wanted to get. These gentlemen had never broken an egg in their lives, worked hard, been responsible, but they could order a pretty respectful martini, sit back and get a few laughs. I would come on stage and my opening statement was always the same; Hey guys, I’m Weird Wilbur from Austin, Texas. I’ve been married five times, stand up Christian and I write about it. Fact is, I’ve been run off so many times I though PMS meant “Pack My Shit!”. My first song was always “Every Time I See A Pig I Think Of You,” written by my friend, Dave Talley back in Kansas. http://youtu.be/uNbp4dyvoj0

If I had done a straight up country show they would have had a drink and retired. They’d seen that show all day, and frankly, they were sick of it. The same rule applies to blogging. Realize that there are people who will seek out your subject matter and frankly there are those who won’t. The rest of my show would leave the group in stitches, but their wives, if they drifted down to the lounge, by and large would not like my show My act was the most politically incorrect, chauvinistic repertoire you could imagine. From the very clean Pig Song I digressed all the way down to a one line tune about date rape given to me free of charge by Tommy Overstreet.

The one factor that will get your readership to rise is professionalism and style. In blogging I get a lot of amazement from the fact that, after listening to my songs, people are frankly amazed that I can use three and four syllable words. Even a mill blog cannot be sloppy. The public does not forgive that. Some ideas are just not that hot, but if your supporters have to endure an occasional dull topic, i.e. the blogger who writes about cooking will occasionally have to turn out a piece on how to properly boil an egg, they will be disappointed if your form, spelling, and use of language is sub-standard. I had a song, a parody, that I’d written, and I had such little respect for this song that I never recorded it. Still haven’t to this day. I took an old standard by Jim Reeves, “He’ll Have To Go,” and rewritten it into a tune called “You’ve got Mail,” where I strung a bunch of gags about cyber-sex into the melody. It was a straight up mill song, but my manager, Michael Lee, told me to make the guitar flawless, and I have the ability to change my voice. I used this ability to help other writers record demos they wished to parlay to successful singers. If the demo sounded like the targeted artist they were more likely to give it a listen. I sounded just like Jim Reeves when I sang this song, and on a personal appearance this made the song pop. Replacing the flowing lines of Gentleman Jim with lines like, “And I’ll be here for you, my dear, and I’ll ‘f’ up your head. . .” were the perfect paradox, and that’s what makes comedy work. Surprise and misdirection.

You should do this with that blog you write where you understand it’s not all that great, but your delivery assures your readers that it’s still YOU. This is why Elvis could stomp his fat ass around the stage in his later career, actually READING the words to a song he was singing from a sheet of paper in his hand and people were spellbound. He was still Elvis, and he understood delivery! When you get this then even your mundane blogs will become special in that they are your style, and frankly, sometimes even you don’t understand the greatness of what you write. I’ve seen then many times when someone would request that I sing some song I’d written that I hated, but it had meant something to THEM!

Happy blogging, get back with me, and remember, write, write, write.

In Search of the Perfect Martini

In Search of the Perfect Martini
by Wilbur Witt

My affection for martinis is well documented. I ordered my first one at the Berry Creek Country Club in 2005. Up until then I was a whiskey drinker. That went back to my Nashville days. I was living in my studio on Westend Avenue, sleeping under my mixing console and didn’t have any means of refrigeration. With no way to supply cold beer, a bottle of Beam was handier. I learned to drink it Nashville style, from a Red Solo cup, mixing it with gums and teeth. http://youtu.be/BKZqGJONH68

One night, for no apparent reason, I ordered a martini. I consider this to have been divine inspiration. Now, if you are a martini drinker you will know it from the first sip. It is a taste you remember from somewhere, and you welcome it back. If you are not a martini aficionado you will pass the drink to someone else. From my first sipI knew that I’d found my drug of choice.

In no time at all I had my shakers, glasses, and olives, and I was in business! I began with gin. I fell for the marketing and bought Beefeater, but found I actually preferred Bombay. The vermouth stayed a constant, Martini and Rossi extra dry. My logic was simple. First, it had the word “Martini” right on the label, and two, it was extra dry, and that’s what the bartender told me during my first encounter with the king of cocktails, so, being a simple old boy from Austin I stuck with it. I tried vodka. Vodka didn’t have any “legs” to it, and I’ve always been highly suspicious of any liquor that doesn’t have a “bite.” It’s like a woman who just lays there. Doesn’t matter how pretty she is there’s no relationship.

At first I only shook my martinis. At some point in time I stirred. I’ve heard that James Bond recipe for a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, and one, he’s drinking vodka, and two he’s just wrong about the mechanics. I eventually fine tuned the mixing process to swirling. I still occasionally will shake, depends on the mood I’m in. If I want ice crystals in the cocktail I’ll shake, if I’m after a smoother drink, I swirl. I never waste a martini. In the making of a video I found what appeared to be shreds of toilette paper in my glass, and if you will note, that martini did not go to waste! http://youtu.be/nhVjw2Itjak. I can take or leave the olives, depending upon if I’ve had dinner or not. If not, I do olives.

The blend is a preference of mine, also. In the approach to the driest martini possible I’ve tried several ratios of vermouth to gin, but given my “druthers” I fill the shaker half full of ice, pour in an ounce of vermouth, shake that around to saturate the ice, strain the vermouth out, leaving samples clinging to the ice, and then introduce the gin. This renders the proper martini. I make one drink at a time, changing the ice for each one. I do not like a bar where they bring you the shaker, filled with ice and martini, and the cocktail sits there like a beached whale soaking up water.

And the reason it will soak up water is rule number one when co-habitating with a martini; martinis don’t make friends in a hurry. The usual martini has a LOT of liquor in it. Using the shaker cap as a measure, mine are almost two to one when compared to a bloody Mary, margarita. Consequently, you sip the drink with respect. I never drive anything after I drink , and especially after a martini night. And I think the term, “Drink Responsibly” is an oxymoron. Just like the term, “Vomit Politely.” The most responsible thing you can do is not drive.

Ladies and martinis are an excellent mix. If they are already a friend of the drink you have a highly intelligent partner to share time with. If it is their first voyage you need to explain to them that the martini is a very unique drink in that the introduction of vermouth nullifies the effects of the alcohol. Now, I would never be so unkind as to take advantage of a lady who was under the influence, but I am not saying I wouldn’t allow her take advantage of me if I was under the influence. I believe in equality if the sexes.

There are many variations of martini. Apple flavors, various vodka recipes, but I prefer my classic blend. It’s always there, always straight up, and meets me on equal ground, for about the first two. If there are martini enthusiasts out there please share you ideas, and for those of you of whom have never partook give this classic a try. I think you’ll be surprised.

Syncing With Your Audience

Methods That Work For Me
Wilbur Witt

Keeping in the flow of community is important when you are in the business of writing. Being disconnected is a deadly sin, and you can readily see that in blogs that get very few reads. This comes from not being in sync with what’s trending. The rule is simple. You have your interests, and they have their interest, and if you’re going to achieve some level of notoriety you must find a way to unify the two or you will be forever dancing with yourself.

The whole idea of writing, any writing, is to communicate with people. You acquire this trait, you’re not born with it. In the music business, those of us who aspire to actually write songs go through this learning curve. Here in Texas, back in the day, everyone wanted to be like Willie Nelson. Consequently, we all started turning out songs that we wanted to sound just like Willie. What we didn’t understand was the world already had a Willie. When someone hits everyone thinks they can jump on the bus. Like Waylon Jennings said in a song, “Old Hank made it hit, we all ride the freeway, but I don’t think Hank done it this way.” No truer words were ever sang. By the time you hear the first hit on the radio the bus has already left the station, and all the riders are already there. They’ve BEEN there!

I wrote in the vacuum of the studio. My ability was being able to grind out a song anytime someone needed it. They were good, had meter, melody, and my lyrical abilities surpassed everyone in my circle, but that doesn’t buy one beer when you go on stage and no one is listening, or worse yet, keep requesting a Willie song. You have just ceased being an artist and become a DJ!

My solution was to do comedy. Back then, Ray Stevens was the man to be if you wanted country comedy. His parodies, and style had a spot on the Opry, and all the tourists could take their kids to his show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t playing to mommy, daddy, and little Philipe at OpryLand, I was playing in Harker Heights, Texas, five miles from Fort Hood, sixty miles from Willie’s house, to soldiers and bikers. I had to go with the trend. I could mount the stage, sing, “Sixteenth Ave,” http://youtu.be/OdwzSXHrZmI. and they would just get mad! And I believed in that song. I’ve lived every line of that song, and I’m not ashamed to say it still brings tears to my eyes. I would one day live in that room “where no curtain ever hung,” but that didn’t mean shit to the bikers and GIs at Crocodile Dundee‘s, and that’s where you learn the value of the rewrite. The next time I did a show I took the same idea, with a few key changes, and presented, “F’d, F’d Over and Hungry!” I broke through the language barrier. http://youtu.be/H1szB_rhgzI

Did I like this? Well, you do the math. I’ve written around 3,000 serious songs, and I’m not kidding, we’ll get to that later in this article, but I’ve written less than 50 gag songs, so where’s my interest? However, I had to sell product. One thing I’ve been blessed with is always having my back against the wall. There are many times when the power was about to be shut off in the studio the next day, and all that saved it was doing a show and selling a case of albums the night before at the WaterHole Bar and Grill. In Nashville we got down to nothing to eat, and I sold albums at Pennington’s lounge, right across from the Opry, and we ate catfish later that night. That’s the other thing you have to develop. Even though you should sing (or write) like you don’t need the money, don’t FORGET the money. In the words of Billy Joe Shaver, “I declare to my soul when you have no way to go, you better know I’m gonna get my share of mine!” http://youtu.be/LpEElGVgv24. Billy Joe came out with this video while I was working in Nashville. We were both from central Texas, and more than one person told me at the time that I was imitating his style, but by then I’d touched the golden calf and untold them he was imitating ME! Fact was we had the same background, grew up fifty miles apart, and had the same influences. He even had momentary lapses of musical sanity just like I did. I wrote the “Anthem,” and he wrote ” White Man’s Watermelon!”

Now, you will not pay those kind of dues blogging on Google + or WordPress, but you have to develop that spirit if you are going to succeed. And by success I don’t really mean money. Money is just one thermometer of success. In this new world, getting people to read what you write is just as important. The underlying factor is ego. Forget what your therapist tells you, if you don’t have ego in this business you are doomed to failure. When I sing for anyone, be it a group of people in a bar, or one girl in front of a fireplace, I am fully aware that i AM Weird Wilbur, I HAVE sold songs to total strangers, and I HAVE been married five times, stand up Christian. You must believe in yourself, and you must believe you have something to offer. If you don’t have that then go punch a time clock. If you make the plunge into publishing of any kind you will eventually go head to head with someone just like me. And just like Michael Lee told me years ago, no one asked you here. You have to kick in the door, but If you build a better burger they will come. When you hear anyone blaming the system for their lack of success, just ask yourself, is ANYONE succeeding in this medium. I’ll guarantee you there are. Don’t imitate them, but figure out what they do, and then use that, and be you! That brings us to the some final thoughts.

Laziness is the one thing that will defeat you. Ever wonder why so many songwriters get on drugs, or turn into alcoholics? Is it boredom or a bad life? Not really. You can’t be bored in the a business where everyone’s trying to take your food away, and everyone has a bad life. We all have crap in our lives. No, it’s that to be a successful writer you have to be obsessive compulsive. I said I’ve written over 3,000 songs. Well that’s an estimate. I have heard people sing my stuff, and honestly can’t remember writing it. That’s because some days I would turn out as many as ten songs for someone, always on an open license, allowing them to edit, arrange, any record them anyway the artist saw fit. If you don’t believe that’s the way it’s done just find the original form of “Crazy” demoed by Willie, and compare it to Patsy Cline‘s version. All hit songs have to be “cover able” or able to adapt to an artists particular style. The Beatles learned this early on by trading songs with other groups.

The hours of doing this takes the lazy out of you. The ability to write an article like this one, read it, not like it, scrap it, and write it all over again, and again, and again. My book, Dobbit Do, was edited ten times, and finally rewritten twice. The public does not forgive slovenly work. They can do that themselves. Everybody has a brother in law who plays a guitar From you they expect perfection! Do this for 42 years and you’ll just about have it. Twists your life a bit. Medication may be required. Mine is dry Martinis.

When I finish this article I will read it, and then read it out loud. It must roll off the tongue, or it won’t work. Did you ever read a blog and think, “Good points, but OUCH!”. That’s because it doesn’t “cook.”. The human mind searches for form and flow. The brain is set up to look for patterns, and repetitive flow. When listening to a song, you may not even realize your ear is searching for what the songwriter calls the “rule of 13.” Listen to your favorite songs and note how many times the hook line is made up of 13 syllables. That’s not an accident, folks, and i cant tell you how it works, I just know it does. It’s what makes one song sound “lumpy” and another sticks in your head. It’s like breathing in and out.When I see the blog, or hear a song without this mental flow it comes across to me as a bumpy road. And you can’t be taught this, you have to learn in through experience. When you read your blog out loud take note where you stumble, and if you were reading into an audience at a lecture hall those would be the parts where you would say, “I’m sorry,” or “I mean,” or any number of things required to explain why you’re having to step back and do that part again. When you read out loud, and this happens, CHANGE THAT! Remember, if it rolls off your tongue, it will roll into the mind of your readers. People search for patterns, order. I hate Rap, but I can’t stop listening to it because I’m fascinated with the meter.

And remember sync. That’s important. This morning I searched for a topic. I read the news, watched about ten videos, and then read my email. I follow everybody I can. I scan the subject lines of about 300 emails a day, and read the ones that catch my eye. Today I noticed there was a great deal of interest in blogging methods, the software, the various platforms, and a host of other things all related to this new form of communication. Now normally this would bore me to tears, but I took a step back and realized that I had something to offer. The bloggers, while honestly trying to help, were dancing around the surface while not delving into the real meat, which is the spirit. As a songwriter, who really did quit his day job, and leaped into the fire, I knew some things that I’ve already paid the dues for that perhaps will help some blogger struggling to communicate and just not quite being able to put their hands on it. I hope I’ve done that. I hope this article lights one candle for someone, and brings them the joy I’ve felt, as a writer.

If you find something worth while here please let me know. If you have questions please ask. You can even disagree with me, I don’t mind. I love interaction, and I’ve made mistakes. This is a new medium. It’s developing. I hope I’ve added something in some small way.

Things I Dodge In A Blog

Things I Dodge When Blogging
Wilbur Witt

I think I watch about fifty or more videos a day, read two news feeds, and every blog I’m subscribed to in an effort to find something that strikes my fancy and I find interesting enough to write about. I didn’t start out with a list of things I don’t touch, they just evolved. However, that having been said there are certain things I have learned to avoid.

Noah’s Ark
Every year some group of fundamentalists find a match stick on Mt Ararat and go pig-shit crazy. They have bought into the entire boat full of animals, and a universal flood. I don’t write about this for two reasons. One, if I’m pro then everyone will think I’m nuts, too, and two, if I speak with a voice of reason I have to spend endless hours deleting idiotic emails from the 100’s of Christian denominations that float that particular boat. Bottom line, there was no Noah’s ark, it is a child’s story, learn it, live it, love it!

Dianne Feinstein
I wanted to do a post on her. I don’t like her, but I researched her career and found a milk-toast, lack luster, fool, that has slipped by for years because she comes from California and they will send anything to the senate. I wish she would go to Oceanside, get naked, smoke a joint, and let the rest of us run the country.

The Government Is Amassing Ammo and Death Camps
Actually all conspiracy theories are on this list. I have found that if you have a vast conspiracy theory then it’s usually wrong. I have watched enormously complicated ideas that the planes that hit the twin towers were unmanned drones, JFK was shot by his driver, there is a New World Order running all the banks, and Obama is really a reptile in human form. Please join Feinstein for that joint.

Any Health or Self Help From California
I don’t care what it is, I don’t care how many letters they have behind their names, I don’t care how many cable supported infomercials they put out, the moment I see UCLA, or Berkley, or anything originating from California I change channels to something else. Those people are all nuts, and everybody knows it. They are fun to watch, wonderful place to visit, but do NOT ever listen to them on any subject deeper than getting laid.

Movie Stars Endorsing Anything
Goes right back to the notes on people from California. Movie stars are shallow, stupid, Narcissistic, and get paid too much money for doing nothing. I don’t write about them because I know they have to be fucked up, else they wouldn’t be in Hollywood in the first place. And they emerge from their marijuana haze to expound on national issues they are completely ignorant of with full confidence that a lot of people will listen to them because they could remember their lines between, “Action!” and “Cut!”

Anything The Russians Say
The Russians think they still have a country. Did I miss something? Didn’t they get their asses handed to them some twenty odd years ago? But they still spout off like they have something to say. Long ago I went out in a trailer park I owned, please no jokes about me being Texan and owning a trailer park, and we shot stray cats who were ruining our sub floors. I hit one right in the side of the head, blowing his brains literally out! He walked off like he had good sense. RUSSIANS!

Sandusky
Penn State for that matter. Hell! The whole state of Pennsylvania. How’d they miss that? All I can say is they must have some ugly women up yonder. Typical Yankee attitude. “Oh, excuse me sir. I see you’re bumping an eleven year old boy in the ass. I must make a note to report this to my supervisor.” Even California can’t beat that one.

Aliens
Any idea that ascribes evolution, God, written language, or pyramids to little green men is stupid. As a teen I had this wet dream about being abducted by aliens, taken up there somewhere, and given my choice of any girl I wanted so they could study breeding. I was nuts, and so are the proponents of alien abductions, and all the rest.

Anything Pornographic
I prefer three dimensional girls. It’s nice if they’re warm, too.

Arguments Between Atheists And Theists
Imagine an intellectual discussion between a dog and a cat. Well, there you are. Both sides screaming about something they cannot prove. I used to be a religious, theological writer, but then I met Penn and Teller and I put away childish things.

These are just a few of a growing list of things I try not to write about. Do you have any subjects? I’m sure you do. If you don’t, just keep blogging and make a note of which blogs bite the dust, and which ones people actually READ!