Beginnings of a songwriter 4

HD BLR.TM My Uncle Bob was a big influence with me. He was friends with my dad years ago, before he died. and he was friends with Henry Jackson, as well. He was always more like a father than and uncle, after my dad  died. He liked what I was writing, so we started writing together, and learning the ends and outs of the music business. We started a company called “The Song Mechanics” and started mailing our songs out to  publishers. A thousand and one rejects later, we were still trying. The NSAI was having a workshop in Oklahoma, So. we signed up to go. It was exciting flying out with Uncle Bob  to an unknown destination. We  got there and signed in, and found our room. We took a song we had written to present called “The Top of Kite Hill. About an old singer on the way down, and how he had to retreat to alcohol and drugs to feel  like he was at the top again. Somehow, It was the best song presented at the workshop. The other writer’s there treated us like kings. It was a great feeling.

Bob McKracken, was one of the judges there from Nashville office of the NSAI. I got the chance to talk to him (I chased him down, lol). I asked him what he thought I should do. He said,” If you wrote those lyrics,  you should move to Nashville”. I was a crazy kid, fresh out of A&M with a science degree, that was all it took. With-in a couple of months, I packed a trailer and too off. Uncle Bob wouldn”t come with me, that  would have been the icing on the cake.

So, I arrived in Nashville in the dead of winter. I highways in Nashville, are cut through the mountainous rocks. The water seeps through the rocks and freezes on the wall. It is a beautiful sight. I had never even  been to Nashville, this was my first glimpse. I was young and crazy and ready to learn how to write songs. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was writing pretty good songs, but I also knew I had a lot to learn.  Songwriting is a craft and a talent. I stopped at a Howard Johnson Hotel outside of Nashville, It had been a long day. I checked in and went to my room, and then headed for the bar. Who would think, that on my  first night in Nashville, at an out of the way Hotel, that I would meet some of the best friends of my life.

In the lounge, they had a singer named Jerry Barlow, not just a singer, but a performer. I introduced myself to him and he introduced me to a couple of his friends. Debby Galloway, Danny Jacobs, Rusty Courtney.  We would all become fast friends. If fact, Danny is in town right now, and I am praying that my flu gets better before he leaves. Jerry, later admitted that he thought, at first, that I was just another drunk asshole.  Then he realized I was just having a great time. Jerry became my first co-writer in Nashville. We wrote a top ten Canadian hit called “You Lifted me High Enough”, Nominated for Canadian single of the year. I, in all  of my years in the business, cannot understand why Jerry Barlow was not a start. I met a lot of friends along the way, I can say the same thing about.

Jerry gave up on country music, and went back to Colorado. He was one of the most talented songwriters I would meet. He started playing and studying Celtic Music, now is one of the foremost player and  storyteller in the Genre. Please check him out at www. JerryBarlow.com

Bob McCracken, would go on to publish the first song of mine after coming to Nashville. The same song we brought to the Oklahoma conference “The Top Of Kite Hill”. He rewrote the melody, which Uncle Bob  hated, but I liked it. I knew it needed help. I only wish Uncle Bob was still here with me now. I owe him a lot and I miss him all the time.


Songwriter part 3

Growing up with Ronnie was great.

We had a lot of fun, and more than a few close calls. When we were around 16, I remember a night we were drinking a lot. Most of my stories start that way. We had brought along a friend, Dennis Pryzborski, to be our designated driver. We went over to some girls house that Dennis knew. We were sitting in the girls bedroom talking, I think I was holding one of their hands. Nothing more than that. Next thing we knew, the girls drunk daddy came home. He was pissed at us. Hollaring, get out, I will kill you. We ran out to the car and jumped in. Took off down the road at a fast pace, I told Dennis to slow down, but it wasn’t Dennis driving, it was my drunk friend Ronnie. I asked him to slow down. He was panicked, saying that guy was going to kill us. The next thing I remember was seeing a desd end sign. I hollared “Dead End”. The next thing I remembered was in slow motion. I saw us hit the railroad ties blocking the dead end, I saw the brush going by the car, and I felt the car go airbourne. We flew about 50 ft into the middle of a field of mud. It definitely could have been fatal if it had been a different dead end. I got out of the car, knee deep in mud. Disoriented, looking around. We were all ok. I remember we walked about a mile to long point rd. We were wet, freezing, no jackets. We found a store trying to call a wrecker. A cop car drove up, looked at our dumb asses, laughed and drive off. We finally got a wrecker to pull the car out of the mud, and take us home to my house. It was daylight. I had to wake my grandmother up to pay the wrecker fee. I ran the bathtub full of hot water and got in. I was so hypothermic that I just layed down. It took about an hour for me to warm up.
Then there was the time we went to Austin. We were about 18. I think I was at A&M. We had beer on ice and a box full of marijuana cookies I had made. We had breakfast of a beer and cookie to start the trip. I didn’t know it but,  everytime we stopped for a bathroom and beer break, Ronnie was hitting the cookies. I remember we were close to Austin and I saw a fork in the highway. I asked Ronnie, which way? Ronnie, which way? I looked over and he was staring straight ahead, mouth open, so stoned that he couldn’t talk. We finally made it to the campground where his Uncle Mike and family was. We set up the tent, and commenced to the main porpoise, getting drunk. I had my guitar and was playing and drinking. Next thing I vaguely remembered was noticing that Uncle Mike’s 15 year old daughter was looking good. She had grown up. It gets hazy after that. Next think I remember was waking up. I had blood all over my face, and my whole body hurt. My face looked like a war zone, all skinned up. I got up and looked around. First thing I saw was. Line of 55 gallon trash cans were knocked over, and my hat was laying by the cans.It was never admitted to, but I am sure I said the wrong thing to Uncle Mikes daughter, and that big man had thrown me head first though those garbage cans. I am pretty sure I deserved it. For years, Uncle Mike would just look at me and smile.
Another night, I remember Henry had booked us at a bar on Travis Street in Houston. It was known to be a gay bar. We set up the equipment and got a drink. Everything looked pretty normal. We got up and were playing some songs. I saw two big old cowboys with beards come in I started to think that, maybe everyone comes in here. Then we played a slow song, and those two big old cowboys got up and started to slow dance together. I just looked at the floor. I knew if I looked at Ronnie, I would have busted out laughing.
Then there was another night we had been out drinking, probably had been to a topless dancing bar, as would any 16 year old should. :). When We got home, I heard the smoke detector going off. There was smoke everywhere, and my grandmother, Grandma Boo as we called her. She had a broom handle and was beating the hell out of the smoke detector, yelling “shut up you son of a bitch”
I went in the kitchen and she had left the fire on under a iron skillet with nothing in it. That skillet was glowing red hot. About that time Ronnie walked in, took one look at the skillet and said, just let me know when it’s done!! And went to bed.
Ronnie and William were our best friends. William was my brother’s age and best friend. He had a nice car and he loved to drive fast. One night he was driving home. There is a bridge on Ella close to 18th street in Houston. Two lanes on each side. There is a small gap between each side. I guess it was fate, he lost control for a second and his car just threaded the needle between the bridges. His Car flew all the way to the other side of the huge concrete bayou. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ronnie was listening to police radio and heard about the wreck. He just went to watch, until he realized it was his brother. I still think about William a lot. I looked up to him. He left a big hole in our family.

Beginnings of a songwriter, part 2.

I started writing things down a lot as a teenager. I was also drinking a lot, already. I probably started drinking around 12. I remember my brother buying a bunch of beer, he was only 15 or 16. My grandmothers were of the mind, let them learn how to drink at home so they can learn how to handle themselves. Mom was divorced and gone most weekends with her new boyfriends. So we were left alone to do what we wanted. And that usually meant drinking. My best friend Ronnie, and his brother William. We all grew up like brothers. Their mom and dad, were best friends with my mom and dad. Their dad Henry and my dad used to play guitars and write songs together. I think I started trying to learn how to play the guitar around 16 or 17. Ronnie had started playing about the same time. I just wanted to be able to write melodies for my songs, so I had no great drive to be a “Musician”. We started taking lessons together on Saturday mornings. To be honest, we were so hung over on Saturday mornings that it was hard to concentrate. Mostly, I learned to play by ear. I could hear a song a few times, and I could figure out how to play it. Lyrics were easy for me. I seemed to have a good memory for song lyrics. I loved learning new songs. Kris Kristofferson was my favorite, of all time. I tried to write songs like him but I could not even come close. Looking back at my first years of writing I was pretty bad. Ronnie and I continued to play together, and eventually started a band with Ronnies dad Henry. Since we had 3 guitar players, I decided to learn Bass guitar. It was pretty easy since the top four strings on the guitar, are the same as the bass. Were pretty bad. We eventually found a drummer and a fiddle player. I had started college at A&M, with the intention of becoming a Veterinarian. We played on the weekends. In spite of my continued escalation in drinking, I was always an excellent student. I made straight A’s, in spite of not studying, till the last moment. In my late teens, I started having a lot of stomach problems. I got to the point where I could not eat without having severe pain in the stomach. I quickly learned that a drink before, would prevent the cramps. My mom took me on a round of doctors to find the problem. I was put through some brutal tests. At 16 or 17, I was bent over a table in the ER, and a pipe about 2 foot long pipe was shoved up my ass. It was called a Rigid Sigmoidoscopy. They don’t do them anymore, I think they are against the Geneva Convention!! They ought to be!!! Back they they didn’t give sedation for such procedures, no dinner or dancing, not even a kiss behind the ear. Just bend over and here we come. I later had a Coloniscopy by Dr Walter Fagan. Again, no sedation back then, but once you’ve had a pipe shoved up you ass, a colonoscopy is no big thing. Remember, all things are relative. Dr Fagan discovered that I had Crohn’s disease, a little known inflammatory disease of the intestines. Remember, this was 40 years ago. I was treated with prednisone, the only real treatment they had back then. I would learn many years later the price I would pay, but it saved my life. Dr Fagan, if you are still alive, I think of you often. Thank you. In spite of all that, life and music went on. More to follow. Brian Lee Robinson


The Beginning of a Songwriter

I remember that the only time I saw my dad was when I went to my grandmothers house. Later he moved to her house in the country. Donie, Texas. I remember that every Saturday night we went to Aunt Ida’s house. She had the only TV. We would watch all of the Country Music shows. Porter Wagoner, The Wilburn Brothers, and many others. Daddy loved country music. He loved Willie Nelson, back when. Willie was wearing a suit, clean shaven, and singing “The Party’s Over”, Waylon Jennings, also clean shaven, in a suit singing “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. I knew daddy wrote songs, but I didn’t know he had already written a hit for Hank Thompson called “Just an old Flame” I loved his songs and looking at his lyric books. I didn’t know grandma had offered to pay his way to Nashville, and her cousin Bob Wills was willing to help out. But he wouldn’t go, I guess he was scared. I learned later that he was a bad alcoholic, and grandma was his enabler. He actually accomplished a lot from Donie. He was always sending his songs off to Nashville, and actually got a lot recorded and published. I was told many years later by an old friend Doodle Owens, that it was so easy to get songs recorded then. I could have been a spoiled rich kid living off daddy’s royalties. But he never went. He was not a big part of my life, we lived in Houston, and only saw him when grandma took us. When he died in a car crash when I was 8, I don’t remember crying. That’s where the line from my song “Across The Hands of Time” came from. “since the day my daddy died, and I learned what ambivalence was” After that, all I had was his song books. I treasured them. I used to read them all the time. I never tried to write songs myself. It was when I was 16 or so that lyrics started coming to my head. I started to write them down. Sometimes I had to pull over and write them down. That was when I started to be a Songwriter. Not a very good one, but the spark was there.






Written In Blood

Written With Blood

A note of thanks to my fans for making my Debut Album a success. Written With Blood Released  Feb 13 2014, has been a success because of my loyal fans and new fans that are just discovering  my music. My thanks  to everyone for all your support hope to see at my next concert .
Brian Lee Robinson

 

The Hard truths of a tough life come ringing through with heartfelt and meaningful lyrics and performances here, Brian. I wish you all the best- Keep writing great songs, my friend.

Jordan E. Spivack Composer


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Song List For Written in Blood

Brian Lee Robinson Debut Album  Written IN Blood

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