Interview with Joe Pickering, Jr.

An
interview with Joe Pickering, Jr., Songwriter and Music Publisher, by
Christian Lamitschka, Country Music News International.
Lamitschka:
There’s
a classic country song by Roger Miller called:
“King
of the Road”.

His destination was Bangor, Maine. Tell us about Bangor, Maine. Isn’t
it far from Nashville and the music scene?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Bangor
is over 1,300 hundred miles from Nashville. Not as far as Europe, but
a big distance. Still Bangor and Maine is a hot bed of Country and
all kinds of music. Bangor and the State of Maine attract many people
as it is a beautiful recreation area. As you point out, the King of
the Road depicted in Roger Miller’s wonderful song made its
destination in Bangor, Maine! A couple of years ago a German tourist
thinking he was going to Las Vegas ended up in Bangor, loved it, and
stayed two weeks! He may like it more because now there is a casino!
Although Bangor is a small city it has an international airport with
the longest airport runway on the East Coast. Many Country, Pop, Folk
and major Rock stars play in Bangor. At the Bangor Auditorium I’ve
seen Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Rebe MacEntre,
the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, and so many more. Kenny Rogers once
played on a round revolving stage in the old Bangor Auditorium. It
was raining hard and the roof leaked and Kenny danced and sang with
an umbrella! What a trooper!
Note:
Bangor in October will open a brand new larger Auditorium which
should attract more major Country and other music stars. There is
also a famous water front music series which attracts major acts like
Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Charie Daniels, Jason Aldean Sting, Phish
and an equally famous international Folk Festival. Both draw tens of
thousands of fans. The Country stars can be accessible in Bangor. I
pitched one of my songs to the Oak Ridge Boys and personally met
Ricky Skaggs just a few days after he won Country Singer of the Year.
So the big stars do come, but is it easy being in Bangor or in
Germany or other places far from Nashville? Of course not but, it
isn’t easy in Nashville either! Just before Ricky Skaggs shook my
hand and spoke a few words someone approached him to give him some
songs. Ricky politely declined by raising his hands up saying, ”I’ve
got 5,000 of those in Nashville”. If you’re not a singer but do
write songs the odds are difficult. They are even more so when you
are primarily a lyric writer and you need to practice what I call the
UP principle which is U..nrelenting P..ersistence. Passion and
persistence is not enough, you have got to have a plan which starts
with the song! Some thoughts below.
First,
you need to learn how to write about the various structures of songs
such as verse/chorus which is the most common song form.
Second,
if you are a lyric writer pair up with someone skilled who writes
melodies for your lyrics. Make sure that the song penetrates the
heart of people. I have had more than 8 singers doing creative work
on what is called a Work for Hire Basis. Simply put I pay them for
their creative work and then I own the total rights to the song. Some
of the singers have been on TV shows such as Laugh in, Movies, have 3
platinum records and two gold singles have been and members of the
Grand Old Opry. I have two music publishing companies King of the
Road Music which is affiliated with BMI (Broadcast Music Institute)
and Paul Bunyan Music affiliated with ASCAP. I own the music
publishing on nearly all of the songs I have written. I then put them
out on single CD’s through
CD
Baby which has affiliations with most of the major digital download
companies such as Apple I Tunes, Amazon, Napster, Spotify and
also physical CD’s which I sell through CD Baby and Amazon.
Lamitschka:
Why
did you make your destination Bangor, Maine? Why are you there?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
My
family and I moved to Bangor from Bellevue, Washington, some 3,000
miles away back in 1978. I become the Executive Director of Community
Health and Counseling Services (CHCS), a large home health and mental
health organization serving over 8,000 children and adults yearly
through much of Maine. I did it for more than thirty years but still
managed to write songs and develop my music career.
Lamitschka:
It’s
tough enough being a singer/songwriter, you are a lyric writer only
and living in Bangor . How difficult is that and why do you write?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Like
so many others who write, the impulse to create is within all of us
and it comes out differently with each one of us. Anyone who has a
deep desire to write will do it regardless of whether fame knocks on
their door or not. Anything worthwhile takes time and effort. You
probably just described tens of thousands of your magazine readers
who do not sing or are lyric writers only, but have deep within them
a urge to create in words a story or a moment in time that brings us
all together. I have been writing song lyrics for decades.
All
of us store up memories that sustain us in life. So I try to write
song lyrics that penetrate the heart. Meaningful songs make us think.
They make us feel. They make us be. By capturing these memories in
song we are all brought together. I have written on many topics about
Sports Heroes: baseball, football, and rodeo. Heroes too who have
fought in wars or faced discrimination, war and peace, patriotism,
personal tragedy, gospel, love, romance, loneliness and redemption,
comedy fantasy and so many other subjects.
Finally,
we all can’t live in Nashville, but that should not stop any of us.
It certainly hasn’t stopped you from all your successful efforts in
the music business nor should it stop anyone.
Lamitschka:
Tell
me about some of your success in the music business.
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Songs
of mine have been in an Emmy award winning HBO film narrated by Ben
Affleck, played on national and international networks both radio and
television. Four of the CD’s are in the National Baseball Hall of
Fame Sound Library.
The
Ballad of Paul Bunyan”

was named the Comedy Song of the Year by the Country Music
Association of America in Las Vegas. This song is also the official
song of the Bangor Chamber Region of Commerce. (Paul Bunyan, the
mystical American folk hero, was born in Bangor). Bangor has a giant
statue of him in which
Paul
stands 37 feet high including the pedestal.
The
“bible” of the Music Industry, The Green Book of Songs by Subject
(
www.greenbookofsongs.com),
is a resource book which has more than 116,000 songs and album track
listings recorded during the past 100 years. Only a small percentage
of the songs in their database are ever featured in their Lists of
the Week . I am honored by their featuring six of my songs.
This
is very rare but I have had one song lyric reprinted in the U.S.
Congressional Record about the life of Harry Agganis, “the Golden
Greek”, one of America’s greatest all around athletes.
Two
of my funny songs have played on the Doctor Demento show when at the
height of its nationwide popularity. One of them was co-written with
the late great songwriter Paul Hotchkiss who wrote a number of songs
for Mickey Gilley. The song was a response Christmas song called
“Reindeer
Don’t Run Over Grandmas!”

I hope someone out there will cover this song! I bet there has to be
a singer from Texas with a funny bone who will cover my co-written
song with Joe Terry called
“Santa,
You’re Just An Old Texas Cowboy!”
All
of my single song albums and major albums are on major digital
download companies such as Apple I Tunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Napster.
CD Baby and Amazon sell my physical CD songs. My songs are available
world-wide through these companies. Today more sales come from
digital downloads then CD sales, so it is important for those in the
music industry to adjust to that growing reality and take advantage
of it!
I
do have my own website
www.kingoftheroadmusic.com
and have gotten as many as 363,000 hits a year. Many come from Europe
,with Germany, France, and the Netherlands having the largest number
of visitors. As I mentioned, I have two music publishing companies,
King of the Road Music affiliated with BMI, and Paul Bunyan Music
affiliated with ASCAP. Whenever possible if you can own your own
publishing it can be helpful in negotiating for opportunities.
I
am also affiliated with Music Supervisor located in Los Angeles which
works to get songs into films. Through CD Baby I am affiliated with
Rumblefish, the world’s largest synchronization license company in
film, TV and in other venues.
In
addition, TouchTunes, the world’s largest downloading pay-per-play
jukebox network, also has my songs in their catalog. I appreciate all
these business relationships. Reaching out to make people/music
connections is vital.
Many
other websites carry stories about my songs or interview me. This is
an excellent way to help promote one’s songs. I’ve also been
interviewed on many TV/radio stations from many states. I really
appreciate the opportunity to interview at Country Music
International News.
Regarding
your readers who are songwriters, I hope they try to be as creative
as possible in giving exposure to their various songs. The internet
is a vital present and future resource to showcase your songs. Your
songs are your “creative imaginary children”, so give them the
best chance that you can for them to succeed in the music world. If
they do, you will too.
Lamitschka:
You
have titled your main CD’s after sports and baseball. Why? Many of
your songs aren’t about sports.
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Christian,
there are multiple millions of songwriters out there writing a
billion love songs. That’s like a competition between one drop in the
ocean and the rest! I try to separate myself by creating a relatively
unique niche. There are many sports fans out there, so I put one
focus on sports. Also, many people are interested in hearing stories
about life, so I often use a sports background to tell a story about
life. Furthermore when I put out a main CD I add many “bonus
songs” with the hope that the listeners will come to love these
songs that aren’t about sports.
Lamitschka:
What’s
your latest CD?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:

My
latest CD is
“Baseball
Songs Sports Heroes 4”

which is out right now! I’ve used Disc Makers to manufacture the
physical CD, and the digital downloads are through CD Baby and their
affiliates like Apple I Tunes, Napster, Amazon, etc. There are 20
songs in all. Many are written within the background of the
beautiful game of baseball, but go well beyond any sport. Some songs
on this newest CD I hope will more than touch hearts. Some I hope
will bring smiles, laughter, or tears. All of them are about life.

One
song asks Willie Mays, the Hall of Fame baseball player, to

come
back and play and catch and return to yesterday (when we were young).
Another song refers to Hall of Fame Pitcher, Bob Feller, who says of
those who have died in war,
“Heroes
Don’t Come Back!”
.
Then there is romance in
“That
Seventh Inning Stretch”

at Fenway Park, to the sadness of suicide and the war machine. There
are more tales of love of life songs and funny tales of Santa Claus.
Many of these songs will make you feel, think, and pause. I love
writing songs that inspire or contribute to life.
Lamitschka:
What
impact do you think your songs have had Joe?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Lots
of people have written, phoned, or emailed me about my songs. Over
the decades I’ve received many letters and quotes on my songs.
Former
President George H.W. Bush wrote saying the Bushes thoroughly enjoyed
my Cowboy Santa songs, apparently, referring to my co-written song
with Joe Terry,
“Santa,
You’re Just An Old Texas Cowboy”
.
Mr.
Marty Markowitz, President of the Brooklyn City Council, loved my
songs about Ebbets Field, Gil Hodges, and Howlin Hilda. Mrs. Joan
Hodges called to express her deep appreciation about my song about
her husband.
Mr.
Eddie and Ann Marie Feigner, of the world famous King of his Court, a
four man softball team seen by millions all over the world, wrote and
spoke several times to say they loved my songs about them.
U.S.
Senator Susan Collins humorously wrote on a photo, “I’m humming
your songs in the Halls of Congress.” I haven’t seen or heard her
“humming” yet but I hope she will one day!
Many
members of the Agganis family have spoken and written about my song
and how it touched them. The late great John Buck O’Neil praised my
songs about the early black baseball players and the discrimination
they fought against. Ed Rice, the author of the book about the great
Louis Sockalexis, admired my song about him.
Major
and award winning sports writers, such as the late great Maury Allan,
gave great quotes on my songs about Ebbets Field and Gil Hodges. Nick
Tsiotis, author of his great heart-felt book about The Golden Greek,
and Jerrold Casway, author of his excellent book “
Ed
Delahanty in the Emerald Age of Baseball”

admired my songs about each of those two great Athletes.
My
song lyrics have been reprinted in several of Harvey Frommer’s Sports
Book, and the Toronto Star and other publications, including several
articles by Juliana L’Heureux in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Even
Mr. Francois Gauthier, the former Consul General of France in Boston,
wrote in a letter to me, “Listening to “
If
This Rifle Could Talk”

song is a moving experience and your song a beautiful tribute to
those who liberated my country from tyranny. France will never
forget the sacrifices of those American heroes.” I was deeply
touched by Mr. Gauthier’s remarks.
The
quotes are too many to mention here, but one will suffice.
Sean
Holtz of Baseball Almanac (
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/),
whose comprehensive baseball history site receives more than 40
million hits per month said:
Honestly
Joe, you are to baseball music, what Elvis Presley was to rock and
roll. A true pioneer in a field full of controversy staying miles
above the rest and creating a path all your own – a path many will
try to follow and few will even come close.”
Lamitschka:
What
has been your biggest failure in the music business?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
The
one that got away!! Andy Wilson and I, a friend and co-writer and
publisher of Nashville Sound Publishing, had a song called “
Fallin’
Out of Love (Can break your heart.)”

It was a beautiful song and we had a song hold on it by the Garth
Brooks office, but, alas Garth didn’t select it!
Lamitschka:
What
is your biggest music success?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
By
far my biggest music success is the music my wife has made in my life
since 1965. I wrote a romantic song about her called
“That
Seventh Inning Stretch”
which
is on my newest album.
Lamitschka:
What
is your most imaginative and whimsical song?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.: 
It’s
a tie!  One is the song “
Ben
the Bull

a whimsical piece about rodeo bulls standing up (or rather,
sitting down) for their rights.  It strikes my funny bone!
The other is 
“The
Cowboy With A Hundred Gallon Hat”
.
There is a mystique about the cowboy. I remember when I was in
France visiting John and Denise Simonot and their
children Annick and Genevive. They asked me to make a lasso for
them.  After all I was an American and didn’t every American
know how to do a lasso?  When I told them I couldn’t make a
lasso, disappointment spread rapidly over their their little
faces.  That image of two disappointed little girls has stuck in
my memory. Many years later I did write this wonderful zany tale
about a Cowboy with a Hundred Gallon Hat who does far more than tie a
lasso.  This Cowboy does the impossible!!! Both Annick and
Genevive are grown up now, but wherever you are in Europe this song
is for you!  May the song
“The
Cowboy With A Hundred Gallon Hat”

make you smile like the two pretty little girls you were!!
Lamitschka:
Since
you write many songs on many topics, are you open to co-writing with
others?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
I
am always open to new opportunities.
Lamitschka:
What
would you like to say to all those country singers in Nashville,
Texas and beyond?
Joe
Pickering, Jr.:
Be
open to all those songwriters out there. Don’t be quick to close the
door. That songwriter could walk in or send you an email and open a
world of opportunity for you. Country music and all music is changing
rapidly. The world is opening up to all kinds of music created by
many people. Doing the same old, same old …will take a toll! (of
your career!)
Second,
hope you all will consider singing/covering some of my great songs. I
have many rodeo, love, country story songs, comedy, Christmas, sports
songs etc. A couple of examples are: “
A
Home Full of Memories”,

a song about breakup, gathering strength from what was, and
redemption. All the songs are on the CD “
Sports
Songs and Beyond”

as bonus songs (partial song lyric below).
“A
HOME FULL OF MEMORIES”
THE
MOVERS ARE COMING THIS SATURDAY
TO
TAKE ALL OUR FURNITURE AWAY
BUT
THEY CAN’T MOVE WHAT THEY CAN’T SEE
NO
MOVER CAN MOVE MY MEMORIES
HERE’S
OLD LETTERS THAT PLEDGE LOVE ETERNALLY
HOW
SHORT THE TIME ETERNITY CAN BE
WAS
IT ALL THOSE ROSES I NEVER SENT
OR
LATER ALL THOSE KISSES WE ONLY HALF MEANT?
CHORUS
I’M
SITTING HERE ALONE IN THE FIRELIGHT
RELIVING
MY MEMORIES TONIGHT
SOME
HEAVY AS HEARTACHE, SOME LAUGHTER LIGHT
SOME
WARM AS FIRE’S GLOW, SOME LIKE WINTERS’ NIGHT
BUT
YOU CAN’T TAKE AWAY FROM ME A HOME FULL OF MEMORIES
Then
there is the heart-warming Rodeo story. (Partial song lyric below.)
“RODEO
CLOWN”
WHEN
I WAS A LITTLE BOY MY DAD TOOK ME TO SEE
MY
VERY FIRST RODEO IN ALL ITS PAGEANTRY
THERE
WERE COWBOYS AND INDIANS, AND COWGIRLS TOO
WAVING
FLAGS AND BANNERS ALL RED, WHITE, AND BLUE
CHORUS
HE’S
A RODEO HERO THE RODEO CLOWN
HIS
LIFE’S ON THE LINE WHEN THE COWBOY IS DOWN
THE
RODEO CLOWN
THAT
COWBOY’S IN TROUBLE BUT THE BULLS’ CHARGE WILL FAIL
CAUSE
THE RODEO CLOWN’S GRABBING ONTO HIS TAIL.
ARMED
WITH BARRELS AND PLENTY OF GREASE PAINT
THE
CHANCES HE TAKES MAKES A BRAVE MAN FAINT
I
thought your readers might enjoy a few of the lines of
“Santa’s
Red Long Johns”

sung by the late Bob Stamper, a wonderful singer and friend. It is on
my latest CD
“Baseball
Songs Sports Heroes 4”

as a bonus song. Maybe a singer out there who has a sense of humor
might want to cover it and defend and hail the value to Santa of his
Red Long Johns!

It
was first released by on King Records on Texas Greetings No 8.
Compilation CD. Joe Pickering, Jr. is the song writer and he owns
King of the Road Music, which has the music publishing and all other
rights to this song. The song also played on the Doctor Demento show
worldwide. The chorus and first verse will hopefully entice you to
listen to this funny Christmas song. Just remember get BEHIND Santa’s
Red Long Johns he needs all the support we can all give him!
(Partial song lyric below.)
“SANTA’S
RED LONG JOHNS”
Chorus:

THERE ARE CHRISTMAS SONGS ABOUT CHRISTMAS SNOW
REINDEER,
ELVES, AND EVEN MISTLETOE
WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE WRITE A SONG ABOUT
ME?
I’M SANTA’S RED LONG JOHNS, I SERVE FAITHFULLY

WHO’S
THE CLOSEST TO SANTA’S BIG HEART
WHEN DOWN THE CHIMNEY HE GOES
WITH A START?
IT AIN’T THOSE REINDEER HIGH ON THE ROOF
ASK MRS.
SANTA CLAUS, SHE’LL SHOW YOU PROOF


A
Special Note about the late Bob Stamper. Bob was a dear friend to me
and all who met him. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry widely
respected for his voice and the quality he gave to his thousands of
recordings for thousands of songwriters.
A
great songwriter and friend, George LaFlame, and I wrote
“Johnny
Silver”
.
(Partial
song lyric below.)

“JOHNNY
SILVER”
WRITTEN
FROM SOMEWHERE HE DROPPED HER A LINE
JUST
WHERE DOESN’T MATTER HE HAD SOMETHING ON HIS MIND
ANOTHER
WOMAN’S IN HIS LIFE, THE ONE HE NEEDS SO MUCH
HE
THOUGHT SHE SHOULD KNOW HE’S BEEN LOVIN’ LADY LUCK
HE
SAID, DARLIN’ DON’T CRY JUST TRY TO UNDERSTAND
THERE’S
NO WAY ON EARTH TO CHANGE A GAMBLIN’ MAN
GOD
KNOWS SHE TRIED BUT THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH
BECAUSE
HE LET HER DOWN AND TURNED TO LADY LUCK
CHORUS
JOHNNY
SILVER IS HIS NAME KING OF THE GAMBLIN’ SCENE
HE
NEVER CHASES WOMEN HE ONLY CHASES GREEN
A
DECK OF CARDS, A ROLL OF DICE, HE’S GOOD AT ANY GAME
HE
LOVES LADY LUCK JOHNNY SILVER IS HIS NAME
One
final note: King of the Road Music is the music publisher on Those
Old Forty Fives. Just wanted to introduce this song to the world via
Country Music News International 1.
The
song “
Those
Old 45’s”

is wonderfully sung by Jim Davis. He and George La Flamme are the
co-songwriters of this Traditional Country tune which has echoes of
Crossover Country and Country Pop. The instruments are varied and
include Piano (Upright), Keyboard/Synthesizer, Drums, Saxophone, and
Guitar (Electric). King of the Road Music is the music publisher of
this song.

“Those
Old 45’s”

song vibes are Heartfelt, Nostalgic, Heartwarming, Reminiscent, and
Romantic. The main band track recorded & mixed at Dixiana Studio
Nashville, Tenn. Vocals and some instrumentation and engineering and
further mixing at Smoke House Studios Nashville, Tenn. Produced by
Lonnie Ratliff Steel Guitar player Perley Curtis played and was in
Loretta Lynn’s Band. Jim Davis was once a backup singer for Country
Music Star Connie Smith. Jim Davis and his wife Linda Davis also make
up a duo called Hearts in Harmony.

Song
lyric below:

“THOSE
OLD 45’s”


I
WAS SURE FEELING LONELY ON ONE SATURDAY NIGHT;

SOFT
RAIN WAS FALLING, AND THE SETTING WAS JUST RIGHT.

THOSE
OLD SONGS WERE PLAYING FROM OUR RECORD ARCHIVES.

THEY
BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES OF YOU DEAR

WHILE
PLAYING THOSE OLD 45’S.

JUST
LISTENING TO ELVIS AND THE KINGSTON TRIO

MADE
ME THINK OF ALL THE GOOD TIMES DARLIN’

WHEN
OUR LOVE WAS REAL.

THOSE
WORN OUT SCRATCHY RECORDS KEEP THESE MEMORIES ALIVE.

HOW
WE LOVED DANCING AND ROMANCING TO THOSE OLD 45’S.

YOU
LOVED MOST OF THE POP SONGS WHILE PURE COUNTRY WAS MINE.

WE
BOTH HAD OUR FAVORITES WHEN YOU WERE MY VALENTINE.

YES,
I WILL ALWAYS THINK OF YOU DEAR SEARCHING THROUGH OUR RECORD
ARCHIVES.

WHAT
A WONDERFUL PASTIME WE HAD DEAR, SPINNING THOSE OLD 45’S.


JUST
LISTENING TO ELVIS AND THE KINGSTON TRIO

MADE
ME THINK OF ALL THE GOOD TIMES DARLING WHEN OUR LOVE WAS REAL.

THOSE
WORN-OUT SCRATCHY RECORDS KEEP THESE MEMORIES ALIVE.

HOW
WE LOVED DANCING AND ROMANCING TO THOSE OLD 45’S.

Jim
Davis Artist. Jim Davis and George La Flame co-writers and owners of
the song. King of the Road Music, music publisher C 2007.
Thank
you, Christian, for the opportunity to interview with your great
Magazine!

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