A Muse's Muse Interview with folk songwriter & performer, Jack Williams
conducted by: Jodi Krangle
Jack is someone who has undergone profound changes in his music and his approach to making it. A well respected songwriter and performer in the folk community, his newest CD release, Across The Winterline, truly demonstrates his growing mastery of the craft. If you haven't yet heard his subtle, velvet voice and listened to the touching truths in his songs, you're surely missing something you'll kick yourself for later. Here's what Jack has to say about the evolution of his songwriting, his recording experiences, and the lessons he's learned throughout.
Question: When did you first know you wanted to make music your career? Can you point to any one incident or was it just something that ocurred to you gradually?
This is harder to answer than you would think. I don't recall ever considering a "career" at all, in the sense that from childhood through college nowadays people begin to think of what they will do for a living. I had thought I would be either an artist (I painted and drew very well) or a musician. It never occurred to me to consider how I would get along financially.
I seemed to have understood music (melody, chords and changes) early on - from age 4, when I was playing the ukelele. My mother taught it to me and it stuck immediately. No, I didn't consider a career then, but I played music daily as a natural part of life, from then till now. I learned piano at 6, dabbled with flute and violin at 9, learned trumpet at 10, and finally took up the guitar at 15. I had played ukelele so well for so long, that the day I first picked up a guitar, I could play it immediately. I had my first band - and paying gig - within 3 weeks. This was 1958. I continued playing trumpet, piano and guitar all the way through college, where I studied music theory and composition for 9 straight years, and led a series of R&B and rock&roll bands through the 60's. I was also a hired-gun guitarist who was called upon to put backing bands together for touring artists: John Lee Hooker, Jerry Butler, Big Joe Turner, Hank Ballard, etc. I was also playing jazz and writing big-band arrangements, playing classical music on guitar - and writing it.
Essentially, without even thinking about it, I had been fully engaged in a "career" since 1958, and it would continue till the present.
It was only in college where, because I fell in love and planned to marry, I had to consider how to support myself and someone else. Family tried to make me view things more practically. I considered teaching music theory, etc, at Valdosta State College in Georgia, but was somehow saved from that hideous fate. I continued what I had always done: playing music, and making a little money, though hardly enough to really meet the needs of my wife and new son.
Finally out of college in 1970, having been divorced from my first wife, I began writing songs. I did not know at that time that songwriting would become a main focus of my musical life, for - except for a few scattered early successful songs - I didn't hit my stride and become prolific and "free" until 1979. So, in '70 I hit the road in a van, and with no home, no debts, and no obligations, I traveled west with no destination and played everywhere they'd let me. I began to learn that people would listen to my songs and get something from them. Out here on the open road I was totally dependent on myself and what I could do to make money. It was hand-to-mouth, but I learned to live happily that way.
There....I knew if I wrote long enough I could almost answer the first part of your question! The second part is not so difficult, but has no real answer either.
I've led a very impractical life. My father - although an army officer - never discouraged my music or art, but tried desperately to direct me in a more commercial direction. But I honestly never seriously considered a career - ever. I just blindly kept doing what I did best and what satisfied me, as unlucrative as it was. I still struggle with the "career" side of music - at 54. (As a side note: it has only been within the past two or three years that my father -at 78 - has come to realize and accept the importance and value of what I do.)
I can't think of any single individual who was influential in my determining my path. There is one I recall who played an important role in keeping me going and directing me.
In the apartment next door to us in Ft. Lewis, WA (I was an Army brat), in 1958, lived a captain, who, before joining the military was a trumpeter for the Ray Anthony Big Band. He heard me doodling on my trumpet and asked my parents and I if he could give me lessons. One-half of each lesson was a highly structured session in the "Arban"s Method" book, but the other half was practice in improvisation. He had heard me improvising jazz and knew where I was headed.
His lessons emphasized freedom in playing what I felt - on any instrument - and became one of the more important influences on my music - and career. This freedom translated eventually into the ability to write melodies easily.
I could name many other influences on my musical life, but none I can really think of that helped me "decide on a musical career". I guess all these years I've only had a life and not a career.
Question: How do you think your songwriting has changed since its early days? Different subject matters? More complex themes and melody? Or has time brought you "back to the basics"?
I just played a concert near the coast of SC and drove back home late - so this is definitely an "after-hours" answer...please let me know if it doesn't make sense! I really have a hard time finding simple answers to questions like these, so please bear with me and find what you need in all this.
Although I've played music professionally since 1958, I have been writing only since 1970. I tried for years to write and never could let go or let down the barriers necessary to tap my own well of experience. I had too many prejudices and false notions of what a "song" should be, having been exposed to the pop music of the 40's, 50's and 60's. I actually believed that I should be writing what I heard being played. I had no one around me to learn from that I knew of, so I had to fumble my own way out of the bag.
The first songs I wrote were modeled on the early songwriting work of a handful of people with whom I played music in the late 60's. These people introduced me to singer/songwriter artists of the time, notably Jesse Winchester. With my listening tending mostly toward the odd combination of classical, jazz and R&B, I had been woefully unaware of some of the great writers of songs coming on the scene who were speaking their minds and hearts and who were doing what I felt compelled to do, but could make no headway. My first songs imitated the dark, pessimistic - but intense and sometimes beautiful - lyrics of my friends' songs and their influences. I only found my own voice in one or two early attempts. One of those songs, from '71, I still regularly play today. It was, not surprisingly, the most upbeat and positive of my whole output. Through the '70's I wrote sporadically, but it was clear to me at last that I was writing and drawing from untapped sources in myself. Dark poetry still prevailed, however, and would for some time. In '79, I was performing in a duo 6 nights a week in Savannah GA and commuting and hour home to SC. During two weeks of driving back and forth, I had written 14 songs! I was on a roll I never dreamed I would enjoy. I formed a band which was focused on this material.
The new band lasted from '79 to '87 and fostered the birth of the most prolific writing period of my life. I was averaging several songs per week. I found myself free to write lyrically and melodically light-hearted tunes as well as the leftover dark ones. As the band dissolved - gradually - I found myself turning more and more back to solo and small group performing I had continued doing since '68. I had a song cut in 1980 by Tom Jones. The money I received presented me with the temptation to write songs, get them published and pitched. A few years of hanging around in Nashville showed me that I belonged back out on the road writing for myself and whoever would listen.
Between '88 and the present, I began to write with a freedom I'd never known. I guess the answer to your question lies here. There are ways in which my music has not changed at all: melodically. You ask about complex versus basic. If anyone asked my opinion, I would say that melody - or more precisely, melodic thinking - is my strongest sense. I find that arrangements - even in the absence of melody - can be constructed "melodically". Harmonies and rhythms I like best are conceived "melodically".
I believe that my melodies have matured since the early days. I've learned to accomplish more with less. Some songs - from the early days to the present - have been founded on "complex" melodies or "basic" melodies, depending on the nature of the song. If I HAD to choose, I would say that I have come more often back to "basic".
Lyrically I have changed enormously. It was in the lyrics that I was trapped longest by old notions - like being locked in a room with your grandmother for years and, when set free, using expressions like "Oh, dear!" and "My, my!". My tendency to write lyrics that were dark and dreary gradually gave way to the eclectic freedom I feel today of drawing any image, mood, symbol or story from my own well of experience and translating it into song. I've never thought of these changes over the years of being from "complex to basic" or the other way around. Learning to set words - poetry - down in my own vernacular has been mostly a long slow refinement and cleaning of the house.
Another change has been recent: the movement away from "stream of consciousness" writing which dominated my early years to an appreciation for and my first attempts at "telling a story", straightforward and simple. After years of just responding to first wild impulses and, occasionally, not knowing what I was writing about, it finally occurred to me to focus on a person or situation that interested me and then WRITE. Listening to and getting to know artists in the modern folk movement has had a strong impact on my willingness to open up myself to the possiblities of story-telling - of, say, putting myself in someone else's shoes and writing about how it feels there, or of telling a person's story I believe needs to be told. This is a long and difficult process for me and I don't really know whether I am succeeding; but I don't really worry about that, because I like what happens when I work on songs like these - I like what it does to me and the strong sense of "connectedness" I feel.
Question: What song of yours are you most proud of and why?
This is an easy one...even though many other songs I've been most proud of have come and gone as new ones are written.
At the moment, I am proudest of "The Old Buckdancer", from my WINTERLINE CD. It was spontaneously - and quickly - written on the day I read that South Carolina poet/novelist/guitarist/ hellraiser James Dickey had died. I had sat down to a table-for- one in a Columbia SC home-style restaurant with the State newspaper and feeling very much at ease in the location and very sad from the news. I wrote most of the song before leaving the restaurant, and finished it within the next hour.
James Dickey was a Columbia SC resident - a neighbor and a great Southern/American poet whom I had always admired.
I was proud of the song for melodic, rhythmic and lyric reasons - and for the fact that it was a spontaneous outpouring of music, sadness, respect and love that took shape without effort.
The melody, for some reason, "produced itself" in a slow-moving rhythm over the faster-moving accompaniment, creating considerable energy. The melody itself is like a poor-man's hybrid of Mozart and bluegrass. The guitar intro is one of my favorites I ever wrote. It actually is just the verse melody in a very satisfying finger-picking setting.
The lyrics came from God knows where. As I wrote, I thought of Dickey, his wild full life and his grand poetry. I didn't write as I thought he would - that would have been presumptuous and would've failed anyway - but I did write as I HEARD him in my head. For my taste, I've never produced a song or poem like this one.
Question: Can you talk a little about the process you go through from the time you sit down to write a song until the time you demo it, play it live or include it on an album? Where do you begin when you're staring at that blank paper or computer screen? How do you choose which songs you keep and which you throw away? *Do* you throw any away?
This one's a lot tougher. I have found very few writers whose process of song creation I can identify with.
I think there's a big problem with describing any right-brain creative process with a left-brain explanation. I'll start by saying that I've never learned much about the songwriting process from hearing a songwriter TALK about writing; but I've learned everything by experiencing their music or poetry directly. I also have found that those who can write, will; and those who can't, won't. The ability and drive are probably there from the start and can be stimulated, but cannot be taught.
That said, I'll make an attempt to talk about my own process. My songs go from creation to either performance or to the back of the notebook to be reconsidered later. They rarely go in the trash. I've often returned to a "trash" idea, only to find that it stimulates me to write something else!
There is no demo process on my path. I don't write to pitch songs to others. I tried briefly writing for money and nearly lost my drive, mind, and love of writing. I've come to believe that music is written either for money (notoriety, power, fame, etc) or for love and beauty. How's THAT for corn? A line from a beautiful Gove Scrivenor song "Everything comes down to money and love in my life".
All my writing occurs when my mind is relaxed - driving, doodling with the guitar or piano, doing mindless things mindfully. Rhythms, melodies and lyrical ideas are always there for me to toy with. Sometimes I can sit down and write by design, but usually it just happens. This makes for bursts of creativity rather than a consistent "song-a-week" - or many. One burst in 1979 created 14 good songs in 14 days. Sometimes months pass with nothing. (Handling my own performing business - managing, booking and promoting my self - is the greatest hindrance I've found to my creative process. I'm working on remedying that.)
An important difference I've found between myself and writers I've come to know is my not "deciding" beforehand what I'm going to write about. I've nearly always been a stream-of-consciousness writer, responding to whatever blows through my head. I have often not understood a song until long after I'd written it. Spending time among writer friends I admire, though, has caused me to experiment with creating songs where I set out deliberately to tell a specific tale. I've had mixed results, probably because I'm not following my well-known path. Perhaps I'm not cut out for this kind of thinking. I listen to the wonderful tales told in song by Chuck Brodsky, Dar Williams, Larry Jon Wilson, Jack Hardy, Rock Killough, Chuck Pyle and many others about people and events that caught their fancy or moved them, and "wish I could do that". The song "the Lone Palmetto" on my WINTERLINE CD I regard as my most successful effort to tell a true story. I have a handful of others that may or may not be quite so effective. I can't really judge my own work in this.
In my chain of Songwriting, Guitarplaying and Singing, it is the latter that is my weakest link. The most successful storytellers I've heard have VOICES that lend themselves greatly to the telling of tales - great singing/speaking voices or interesting, quirky voices, with a lot of color and nuance built in. Voices that are moody. Being born with such a voice and the ability to tell a story makes a formidable combination...Mickey Newbury, for instance. Along with the creative ability and the drive, perhaps it is the voice itself that generates much of the poetry. Lacking this innate quality, I find expression in my other strengths.
An often-asked question which comes first, the tune or the words? In my case either or neither. Being a stream-of-consciousness kind of guy, I've been stimulated to write by a rhythmic feeling, a guitar pattern, or other force. Everything I hear or do can be highly suggestive and - if I'm open to it - I'll let down my workaday life barriers and write from the suggestion, no matter how abstract it may be. Sometimes, yes, a melody floating around in my consciousness is compelling enough for me to apprehend it and begin to write - by singing (or thinking) it over and over till words wed with the tune. Sometimes a phrase or word finds itself repeating in my head and - if it's compelling enough, and if I'm willing to stop the world and catch it - I'll juggle it for hours or days (or seconds) until melody unites with syllables.
All of this can be done in a controlled situation, where I sit down with the self-command "write". But I live without a schedule because of touring and can't follow John Updike's daily routine of getting out of bed, grudgingly finding my way to my work area, and, over many cups of coffee, begin to get in the frame of mind to create. That system is alien to me. But I can sometimes stimulate myself to write when I've been absent from the process for too long. This can be done by picking through a few of the thousands of song scraps I have lying loose, or in folders or notebooks in my briefcase (on the road) or my basement (at home). Some of these ideas just plain suck. Others are nearly fully written verses or whole songs. Occasionally, trying to revive where I was going with one of these gets me into the frame of mind to either finish that earlier work or begin completely anew. The idea is to "let go". Not an easy order when you're "thinking".
I have great pity for the writers who must always be alert for song ideas which, though they feel strongly about the ideas on a personal level, must abandon them because they would be fatal to a commercial effort.
How do I decide between keepers and losers among my songs? The songs decide for themselves as I play, or try to play them. They either take wings as I search through performance idea after idea, or they drag the ground under their own weight. I can't effectively THINK about the song at all. If I THINK, I may DECIDE that it's a great song with great lyrics and great melody and why the hell ain't it working? One song I DECIDED to throw out (not really, I actually stuffed it in a folder) had caught my wife's fancy. Five years after I had written the mindless bauble, she asked what had happened to the song (which was written in 5 minutes during NBC news). I retrieved it from the heap, began fleshing out the music and accompaniment and discovered what is now a staple in my performance repertoire. ("That's All" from DREAMS OF THE SONG DOG CD.) This also points up the fact that most people cannot go it alone. Everyone needs an editor now and then. My wife has a great untrained ear for the real thing - and she pulls no punches...and I roll with 'em.
Along the same lines, I've found after these many years, in judging my own music - as well as others, that what I THINK is a great song or idea is not always accurate. Thinking too much is the problem. I judge best from the gut if I allow myself to experience the WHOLE song rather than cutting the forest to little pieces to criticize the trees. Easier said than done, I'm afraid. I'm still learning here. An analogy in birdwatching: a novice studies all the indications in the field guide, noting how much dark shows beneath the wing, the call, the eye stripe, and the veteran comes along while the novice is buried in his Peterson's Guide and identifies the critter instantly by its "jizz" - or overall "feel". A song may have a frivolous lyric, vague melody, and maybe a quirky rhythm, and somehow repeatedly outshine and outlast a song of apparently better poetry, solid melodic structure, and an infectious rhythm. The reasons, at this point, are not best thought out. What is, is. This is one reason why new songwriters need to take with a healthy grain of salt what more experienced writers SAY about their writing processes. But it is true, that, as humans, we require intellectual homework in order to build the walls that we must ultimately destroy if we are to create successfully.
A last comment. I'm overly educated in music and theory. This is the truth: although I learned enough music theory in 9 years of college to teach it in its traditional and contemporary forms on the college level, that part of my education stifled my creative powers and hindered my growth over the succeeding 10 years. That time was spent freeing myself from the bonds of musical analysis. I will never be totally free. Young writers would be well-advised to avoid seeking too much theoretical knowledge, and spend their formative years creating from their own hearts and minds. Have you ever known a pianist who began taking lessons from scratch - and dutifully doing what the teacher demanded - who emerged with the ability to freely and beautifully improvise? I have yet to meet that pianist.
Question: Which of your recording experiences was the best for you and why?
I have been in recording situations frequently since my first time with my first band in early 1959. Occasionally, I made extra money recording radio and TV commercials (which was sometimes fun to do, but ultimately unrewarding); I recorded original incidental music for plays, original music for films, produced albums for other writer/performers, but best of all, of course, was recording my songs for my own albums.
The first time I really enjoyed a recording experience fully was in 1975, when a small studio opened for business in Savannah GA. They were friends and invited me to spend unlimited time recording in order to help them refine their recording techniques and test their equipment. We worked for months and I was allowed to "go wild" with anything I wanted to do. This was not only enjoyable, but gave me valuable studio experience and helped me find a perspective on my own music and performance I could never have had otherwise. It also began the process of helping me understand how I really felt about "recording versus live performance".
Every time I've recorded my own material I've enjoyed myself - though not always the result. There is a natural high that accompanies the process and, for me, a natural headlong speediness that usually drives everybody around me crazy, but gets things done. My third album (2nd CD), DREAMS OF THE SONG DOG, felt wonderful to do, but was less satisfactory to hear. Although recorded within a fine Nashville studio and surrounded by Nashville people (including my engineer/co-producer), I strove mightily to reproduce an unslick, raw, feeling in the music, retaining even mistakes and mistunings in favor of overall musicality. I failed. It is a telling fact that, when the project was finished, the engineer told me that my album was the rawest, unslickest thing he had ever recorded - and he liked it anyway! I was pleased with his take on it. But I heard it as an "overproduced" sound, not really resembling the sound and energy of live performance - which, to me, is primary.
With my third CD, ACROSS THE WINTERLINE, I attained my goal. It was recorded in a friend's home near Columbia SC, with a group of friends/musicians, all of whom sat in the same room playing together, "live" - everything done in one or two takes with almost no parts overdubbed. Although this is my favorite recording project ever, I still discovered negative trade-offs in attaining the goal.
For one thing, the overall sound quality suffered because of lack of "separation" of parts on the tracks - everything everybody in the room played or sang was picked up on every microphone. Another thing, I had recorded my guitar on a mike - totally "unplugged" for the first time - and discovered problems with my (only) guitar's sound - it had a GREAT tone but was too quiet to get a "big" enough sound which could hold its own with the other, louder instruments. There were other problems of this nature, but overall, I loved this album best. It just feels right to me now - warts and all.
Question: What advice would you give to singer/songwriters preparing to record their music?
If you're interested in the Recording more than the Music, I have nothing to offer, because we're coming from different places. Decide what you want before you start. What's your vision? A recording, to me, is merely a mechanical, approximate reproduction of a real thing. A recording is like a photograph of events, people or ideas. I can be an excellent photo. Many recordings are more like Xerox copies of the photo, suggesting nothing of the reality of the subject Music.
If you're a weak peformer/writer, the Recording can appear to elevate your craft by smoke and mirrors. If you're a good performer/writer, the recording can - at best - attempt to tell the listener the reality of your music, or - at worst - it can weaken its beauty and power enormously.
If you're into the reproduction Process and are concerned about how a recording "should" be, "could be" and "ought to sound" in order to measure up to other RECORDINGS you've heard, you'll probably fail to create the best representation of your music possible. I would suggest focusing your ear on making the recorded music sound like you know it to sound when you PLAY it live.
If your own live performance and sound please you and they are what you'd like to reproduce on tape, abandon your ideas of adding, overdubbing, fancy-EQing, playing with effects, using instruments found in the studio which have never before had a place in your music, etc. These novelties too readily enter the head when a novice enters the studio. Stick to what you know and what you've found to work and what pleases you. If you find yourself playing with and relying on the studio toys, then you probably never trusted your own music as it sounded OUTSIDE the studio. Trust yourself and your music.
To some, the recording is the end result - live performance is the necessary evil preceding the studio. To others, the live performance and sound ARE the end. I'm in the last category. If you don't agree with me, you should ignore everything else I have to say about recording, because it'll be obvious I'm out of my mind.
I will add here that I only occasionally listen to my fellow singer/ songwriters' CDs. This is not out of disrespect, but I never hear anything that touches me like the real thing. I do, however, listen to a lot of classical recordings....after all, Mozart and Schubert are dead and are not performing at my local UU Coffeehouse.
If you've made it this far, I suggest the next steps are finding the right place with the right equipment and a person or persons who know your music, who genuinely like your music AS IT STANDS and are minimally devoted to technology for its own sake, but understand and SHARE your goal of achieving reality. This is a tall order in this techno-world. With my primitive ideas of musical reality, I have had to learn enough to hold my own and get what I seek even when dealing with friends and colleagues in the recording process. I have learned somewhat to make use of their technological know-how while steering them - sometimes not so gently - away from taking my raw music down one or more techno-dead-ends.
A studio's value really rests more on the person operating it, good mikes and well-maintained decent equipment. Walls of great, shiny, expensive gear produce no good music. Listen to as many samples as you can of recordings done at the studios you are considering. Listen to the voice. Listen to the guitar. Ignore those synthesized strings, they'll seduce you and confuse you. Read who produced and/or engineered it. Pick the studio and personnel that come closest to reproducing the world as you know it. If your ear is attuned to the modern hyper-production sheen and "perfection" (what a concept!), my words are useless to you, and you are - I promise you - no longer able to hear nor enjoy the reality of Music.
I am not sold on digital at all. Analog suits me just fine. Tape hiss goes through me unheard in the presence of excellent music. I even listen to classical LPs (remember them?) that have occasional repetitive glitches. It's just a gentle reminder that I'm not hearing the real thing. If I had a paper cut, it wouldn't ruin my life. Digital recordings have a smooth, metalic unreality to them, but I'm not picky enough to stop listening to them if they're playing me great music. I can ignore the false perfection as would tape hiss.
I adhere to the Miles Davis school of thought. When I've captured a good performance, I leave in mistakes, string-sqeaks, minor vocal imperfections, etc, because they were there to begin with. Even in my very BEST live performances they are there! If I played perfectly, I guess it would show on the recording -and should. When I hear "clean" and "perfect" recorded music, I feel I'm being lied to. I don't like the pulp skimmed off orange juice and having every hair in place.
I realize I'm in the minority in my thinking and I'm not moving gracefully into the 21st Century. If you see recording as an "art form" in itself, with music as merely a tool to produce a cool record, you've just wasted a lot of time reading.
Question: Is there a song that you've heard that you wish you'd written? What was it about the song that drew you?
I've heard hundreds of songs I wish I'd written. If it'd made me happy, I'd have stolen much of the work of Jesse Winchester, Willis Alan Ramsey, Bob Dylan, Mickey Newbury, W.C. Handy, Hoagy Carmichael, David Olney, Townes van Zandt, Stephen Foster, Larry Jon Wilson and so many others. In ways, I already have. Once I set out to make a list of my all-time favorite songs. I stopped around #43, realizing that creating such a list was too much to handle. Some of the songs were utterly simple, others were complex, but all had some undefinable magic about them. "The Brand-new Tennesse Waltz" of Jesse W., "Handy Mackey" by Larry Jon, "Spider John" by Willis Alan, etc, etc. How to pick one I wish I'd written? Even harder How to say what it was about the song that drew me?
Considering how much I write and talk, I'm finally stumped. Pick one, Jack! OK - Tom Waits - "The Heart of Saturday Night". The first Tom Waits song I ever heard has never let me down for a moment. Maybe I liked it because of HIS delivery. Nope. I liked it as a SONG just as much when Shawn Colvin recently covered it. Heck, I even like it when I sing it. The melody, words, rhythm, all elements say the same thing - and it all makes beautiful sense.
As with all music I love most, I believe I am drawn to the magic that occurs when all things flow together as if they were made for each other. It's a daunting task for any writer to first find the elements (subject, lyric, melody, mood, accompaniment, chords, tempo, etc), then assemble them into a perfectly unified whole. Are these lyrics as great as Mickey Newbury's "Your My Lady Now"? Is this melody as lovely as "Beautiful Dreamer"? These are questions that get asked but should NEVER be asked. Analysis of music kills it.
The beauty in the work lies in how all the elements are bound together and rise together in natural beauty. This is no New-Age BS on my part...I believe it fully. It gives me something to strive for.
Question: What's in the future, Jack? What are you working on now and where do you see your music heading?
What I'm working on now is whatever song I'm writing at the moment. I have six that are constantly changing themselves in my head. One is a song I began in January of 1978 that I've never been able to finish till now. This is work?
(The one negative). I regret having to use good writing/playing time to work on booking, promoting etc, but somehow, I must make a living.
I'm planning my first new CD on WIND RIVER Records - probably songs from live recordings I made in Atlanta's Freight Room.
In addition to other booking, I'm planning and looking forward to a '99 tour, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, with my friend Mickey Newbury - a once-a-year only tour, due to his fragile health.
And I'm writing this essay for The Muses Muse, because it's been therapeutic - and because I enjoy it.
My music is heading wherever it can be heard - even if only by me.
You can find Jack's official bio HERE.