When I was 6 years old, I remember in first grade, our teacher asked us, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I just shrugged my shoulders and said “I dunno”. It seemed like every boy in my class wanted to either be a doctor or a policeman or a fireman. None of those sounded good to me.
Then when I was 9, my dad took us to see a movie about the life of Hank Williams, Sr. After I saw that movie, I knew. I knew that I wanted to be like Hank Williams (minus the binge drinking and premature death, of course). After that, I still answered “I don’t know” to the question (most of the time), but I knew. I knew that I wanted to write songs and that I wanted to perform in front of an audience and touch people the way that Hank did. I also knew (even at that young age) that it was a “dream” and that few people ever realize those types of dreams. So that is why I still said “I don’t know” (most of the time), but, I did start working on it.
I tried to write a song. I didn’t know how to write a song, but I knew that it needed to rhyme so I decided to choose some words that rhyme and go from there. To the best of my recollection, my first song went something like this…
- Harry wants to marry Mary
- But Mary is in love with Larry
It was a classic love triangle :)
Within a few minutes, I realized that it wasn’t good, so I crumpled it up and threw it away. I didn’t throw the dream away – I just knew that I needed to learn how to do what I wanted to do.
When I was 11, the school that I went to offered a guitar class during the summer session. I learned three chords that summer and then I bought a book on guitar and learned more. I would say that it took me four years to become just somewhat proficient on guitar. So I learned to play guitar and sing and when I was around 15, I wrote some more songs. They were much better than “The Ballad of Larry, Mary and Harry".
When I was 19 I got into a band and started playing in local bars, mostly covers. I wrote some more songs. I played them for friends and family and got positive feedback. I subscribed to “Songwriter magazine" and submitted songs to publishers, and I continued to perform in local bars with various bands until I was 21. Then I got married and to make a long story short, I decided to make music a hobby. I wanted to be “normal”, so I put the dream away, got a real job and bought a house. A few years later, I did start playing music in church and that was great on many levels. I even was able to write songs for church – in a way, I was living the dream, at least in the context of my “church life”.