Blake Shelton And A Naked Cowgirl

Blake Shelton And A Naked Cowgirl Made Me Facebook Famous And A Cyberspace Celebrity

been writing songs since I was knee high to a grasshopper, long before I
knew you could make any money at it. I reckon that’s a good thing,
because if you are writing songs just for the money, you are likely to
starve to death. What you are writing today may not pay you for 5, 10 or
even 20 years down the road. It takes some commitment to chase this
crazy ass dream and I am
committed…or at least I should be. It’s not often that you hear someone
say, “Hey, ain’t that the songwriter’s Mercedes sitting out back of the
studio?” Not many folks will bust their humps for years just for the
possibility of a paycheck that may never come. I have spent way more
money over the years than I have ever made on this highway through hell.
I think we songwriters are a bit touched in the head. So ya’ll remember
to pray for me tonight. I guess if money is your only motivator when it
comes to writing, recording, and performing, then you would likely be
better off flipping burgers, or greeting people down at the Wal*Mart. As
much as I like cheeseburgers, I would probably eat up all the profits,
and weigh 400 pounds. And the very first time some little snot-nosed
punk smarted off to his momma in Wal*Mart, I would be done bent his
little ass over my knee. The lawsuits would surely follow, and I would
definitely be unemployed,
possibly in jail.
as you can tell, I needed a way to make a living while supporting my
passion for Country Music. About two decades ago I took a job as a
deckhand on a towboat. The boat life offers a 28 day-on, and 14 day-off
schedule that provided me with a “foolproof” plan. I figured I could use
my off days to shop my songs around Nashville, and in a year or two I
would be this world famous songwriter. Well, here I am many, many, many
moons later and I am still working on the towboats. That’s what I get
for thinking with no more than what I have to think with. At least I am a
captain now, and believe it or not, I am still writing them songs.
did work my ass off on my off days for quite awhile trying to get my
songs heard by the industry in Nashville, as well as across the country.
I would send out 100 letters (the old fashion way, stamp and all)
every time I was home asking for permission to submit my songs to
various publishers, and record companies. For the most part I would be
ignored or my request would be denied. A small percentage would grant me
permission to submit 3 or 4 songs, and I would promptly send out a
cassette tape (yep-way back when) package complete with a bio, cover
letter, and lyric sheet. What I would get in return more times than not
was a rejection letter telling me that my songs were not good enough.
Some of the rejection letters were very nasty, and aimed at me
personally instead of an assessment of my craft. How dare I even think
of trying to break into the elite field of songwriting, or an industry
of music professionals? I should go back to the farm, and forget about
making it in the music business. I spent a fortune sending out thousands
of letters, and hundreds of tapes, and all I accomplished was the
spinning of the wheels on a sinking ship.
I kept on plugging despite the rejection letters. Besides, from what I
could gather music critics aren’t paid so well.  I guess I might be a
little shitty too, were I walking in their shoes. Here’s some suit, and
tie sitting behind a desk who has never written a song, but he’s gonna
tell me how it should be done-on key and in three part harmony. His old
lady probably runs the show at home, leading him around by the nose, and
making him jump to her every whim. Along comes my songwriter package,
and now he gets to be the big boss man with the poison pen. These guys
are ten feet tall, and bullet proof when they are safely tucked away in
their little cubicles.  I’ve often wondered how much of the vicious
slander that they slung at me over the years would they actually have
the nerve to say to my face. However, it doesn’t much matter, most are
probably unemployed by now anyway. Some will, some
won’t, who cares, who’s next? I tried to stay focused, and positive
with the belief that I would one day make it. Where there is no vision,
the people perish. I have always been a dreamer who believes with hard
work, and dedication that anything is possible. It ain’t the first time I
ever tripped over a cloud, and landed on a unicorn somewhere over the
damn rainbow. Along about that time in my life, my wife, Miss Neci
coined the phrase, Big Dreams In A Small Mind. It was an inside  joke
that helped keep me from taking the frustration of rejection too
seriously. She, and I would laugh it off, and keep on moving. No one was
gonna steal my joy.
long waited makes the heart grow sick, and I finally did get sick of
the music business, and the Nashville “Machine”. I wasn’t writing, and I
literally hated going into my studio to try to create something. What
little I did do, sucked. One day I
had an epiphany. This art, and craft of songwriting that I have been
blessed with is a gift from God Himself, and when I beg someone to
listen, or allow them to berate me then I cheapen something that is a
part of my soul. I vowed to never submit another song again, and I
decided to take a break from it all. During the interim, I studied up,
and obtained my captain’s license. For several years I concentrated on
my career on the towboats, and was highly successful in that field. I
was happy, yet there was something missing.

Photo by Alane Anno, Gallatin, Tn.
truly believe that if I don’t write, and create for a certain amount of
time, then my heart will swell and bust. I am equally sure that my head
will fill up with too many words, and explode like a watermelon at a
Gallagher show. So, the next thing I knew I was putting pen to paper,
and writing songs again. Slowly but surely, and with more than a little
trepidation, I made my way back into my studio and started recording a
few of my newly written works. Much to my relief I found it to be fun,
and good therapy for a rattled mind. I remembered why I started writing
songs in the first place. It was, and is my passion. However, I was
bound by my vow to never submit a song again. I don’t need anyone’s
approval for what I create. I do this for myself as a way to express,
not as a means to impress, and if someone doesn’t like it, then they can
kiss my rebel ass.
of the songs that I authored during those days of rebirth when I was
finally writing things off (writing them off of my mind), was a tune
entitled ‘Son Of The Highway’ . I wrote that song in about ten minutes
one night at about three in the morning. I was on a towboat, underway
and making way in the Alabama canal, approaching the Gulf Shores bridge.
The words were finally flowing well again, and I felt good about what I
was writing. As soon as I got in port I pulled out my guitar, and
started working on some chords for my new tune.
long after that Miss Neci wanted to buy me a computer, and an updated
cellphone to
catch me up with the times. I didn’t much think I needed a laptop as I
only got about 3 emails a year, and I could not fathom just what in the
hell I would do with such contraptions. It seemed like a waste of money
in my opinion, and I said so. Well, you know how women are, once they
get something on their minds they are gonna do it no matter what us
menfolk say. Before I knew it my ass had done fell off my dinosaur,
broke my stone underwear, and became a high-tech redneck complete with
the latest in electronics. Thank you Miss Neci! Now I am as lost as a
ball in a weed patch! What am I supposed to do with this stuff?
one of my crew members, Mike Sharp is very computer savvy, and he set
me up. The next thing I knew, I was on all kinds of social media sites,
making posts and burning up gigs like a 40 year old virgin in his
momma’s basement. My relief captain at the time, Roy Horrigan,
filmed a video on the boat for ‘Son Of The Highway’ and uploaded it to
YouTube. I began to share my songs with family, friends, and eventually
fans via the internet just for the fun it. It was a distraction from a
demanding job, and the reality was that I was having fun, and a lot of
it. It was an opportunity for me to share my songs, and get them heard
by the people that really matter. After all my music would be just so
much noise pollution without the great people who were now starting to
listen. I had rededicated myself to what had been my driving force my
entire life. I once again had purpose, and it was extremely enjoyable.

Photo by Kymberly Matthews
some point, one of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a pair of
her pants, and cowgirl boots that she had shed by the bed after a hard
night of honky-tonking. The pant legs were still over the tops of the
boots, and it looked like she had just been beamed up in some weird
alien abduction that left her boots, and pants in a pile on the floor. I
was entertained by that picture, and started making comments and
replying to other’s comments. The thread of conversation on that photo
became very colorful and funny real quick as you might imagine. Little
did I know that my Facebook friend was the chief
editor of the Nashville Music Guide, and the wife of the owner, and
executive editor, Randy Matthews, who also heads TCM Records. You could
have knocked me over with a feather when I got a message from Kymberly
Matthews introducing herself, and stating that she had watched my video
‘Son Of The Highway’, and that she wanted a story in the Nashville Music
Guide about me. Wow mom, look at me! I’m Facebook Famous and a
Cyberspace Celebrity! I will see YOU at the top of the charts.
Nashville Music Guide set me up with a writer, Phil Sweetland, who is
also a contributor for The New York Times. My story ended up in the
December, 2010 issue with Blake Shelton on the cover. My story was
titled Louisiana Captain’s Songs Making Waves On Music Row. Once the
article was released, I got another surprise. All my friends, family and
fans (the important folks) began to post comments under the article. My
of followers actually out done Blake Shelton on feedback, and Mr. Randy
Matthews was stunned to say the least. Here’s a no-name songwriter from
South Louisiana that has more social media pull than ‘ole Blake
Before long
Randy, a.k.a. Rooster and sometimes referred to as Mr. Honky-Tonk, was
after me to bring my happy ass to Nashville. And so I went. Mr.
Honky-Tonk set me up to perform at a writer’s night with a group of
legendary, hit songwriters. Among them was Tommy Barnes who wrote
‘Indian Outlaw’ for Tim McGraw. Tommy also wrote a song for my Idol,
Hank Williams, Jr. entitled ‘Man To Man’. I stuck to Tommy like glue,
and found him to be a very warm man that loves to honky-tonk. He told me
all about writing the song for ‘ole Bocephus, and that we were standing
in the very spot he was standing when he saw the performance of ‘Man To
Man’ aired live, and on TV, for the first
time during the CMA Music Awards. Later on that night Tommy, and I
found ourselves drunk as a box full of rocks on a bicycle, staggering
around the parking lot, singing every Hank song we could think of like a
couple of alley cats howling at the moon. What a night!

Photo by Denise
Early the
next morning, just after noon or two, Mr. Honky-Tonk introduced me to
another hero of mine. Tony Stampley, and I met at the Nashville Music
Guide’s office for a songwriter session. Tony is the son of the great
Joe stampley, and he is also the writer of 14 Hank, Jr. songs. I was
intimidated to say the least. Being the honest Joe I am, I told Tony
that I was a bit overwhelmed by being in a room with the guy that wrote
‘Whiskey On Ice, Women On Fire’. He said, “Just come up with some lines
son, and you will be fine. You like Hank? Well, let’s write one for
Hank.” And so we did. We came out of that little room with what I was
sure would be a hit.
We had just written ‘The Party’s On’.
Nashville trip was a blur of activity. It was a major success for a
no-name songwriter like
myself. Mr. Honky-Tonk set me up with a photo shoot, planned a new
article for NMG about me, and tried to keep up with me while we
honky-tonked our asses off all over Broadway and Music Row. I now have
an extended family in Nashville. All them folks up there in Nashville,
and at the Guide are my honky-tonk brothers and sisters. The new article
that documented my trip to Nashville appeared in the Nashville Music
guide shortly thereafter. Smooth Sailing For Captain Joe Kent During
Exciting Nashville Trip. Thanks to the Nashville Music Guide I no longer
have to wonder if folks are listening to my songs, and I have a chance
to see YOU at the top of the charts without breaking my vow to myself.
Write it down, what you found out…songwriter
Don’t let it all slip away
Speak your mind, all the time…songwriter
Someone is listening today
So write on…songwriter, write on…songwriter, write on…songwriter…
-Willie Nelson-
-From the soundtrack of the movie Songwriter-


Photo by Alane Anno, Gallatin, Tn.
Joe Kent for Country Music News International

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