R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Category: Videos (page 1 of 3)

Statler and Waldorf vs. Milton Berle

When The Muppet Show was in production, I was a small child. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate the show even more. The writers include humor for everyone.

Here’s one of my favorite clips. Statler and Waldorf, the cantankerous, heckling old farts in the balcony of the Muppet Theater, finally get the best of comedy legend Milton Berle.

I’m a real person. Here’s what I sound like.

I’ve been blogging for almost 11 years, on this site and elsewhere. One good thing about this is that, when I’m having trouble creating new material, I’ve still got (literally) hundreds of pages of material to re-post. This saves both my sanity and my hide, in times of creative emptiness.

While my words are slowly coming back to me, I rediscovered this video from a reading I gave a couple years ago. A beloved writer friend organized a Creative Nonfiction Open Mic Night at Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia. For such a small town, Carrollton boasts an astonishing number of amazing writers. I had a blast meeting new people and hearing them read their work. Here, I read “On Inspiration,” which I first posted in January 2014. It’s been pretty popular, and is also one of my favorites.

A few readers have asked me to post more videos in which I read my work. That might be fun. Stay tuned.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


In Which I Read My Work to Strangers, Part 2

Thank you to everyone who came out to last night’s Creative Nonfiction Open Mic at Carrollton’s wonderful Underground Books. It’s great to meet new people and hear them read their work. Here, I read “On Inspiration,” which first appeared on this site one year ago today.

Stay tuned for the next CNF Open Mic sometime in early May 2015!

Back to the Soul: Because great music matters

Each semester, my students take on the challenge of writing a critique essay. “Believe it or not,” I tell them, “you already know how to critique. You listen to music. You know your standards for what makes a good album and what makes an awful one. That’s the beginning of a meaningful critique.” Let me reassure you: Today’s first-year college students know quality music. Their All-Time Best Album lists always impress me.

What gives me the most hope, though, is how much they appreciate independent artists’ work. As a former student explains, “Excellent music isn’t dead. You just have to know where to find it. Some of the best stuff out right now is from artists staying true to themselves, artists raising money to make records on their own terms.”

And that’s exactly what my friend Grayson Hugh is doing.

When I first heard his music back in the late ‘80s (“Talk It Over” and “Bring It All Back,” in particular), I called it “blue-eyed soul.” Since then, Grayson’s work has combined many different influences: country, blues, folk, funk, jazz, gospel. Most compelling, though, are his lyrics. “North Ohio,” from his 2010 album An American Record, breaks my heart. The rest of the album glues it back together.

For his upcoming album, Back to the Soul, Grayson returns to his R&B-soul-funk roots—and, with our help, it’s going to be one amazing record. We all long for thoughtful, heartfelt, original music. Now we have a chance to make it happen.

To read more, to share, or to contribute, click here. There are great perks available at every level.

If you care about heartfelt, meaningful, original music—and the people who create it!—I hope you’ll join Grayson on the fascinating journey of creating a new, original album.

Text © R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

In which I read my work to complete strangers

Here I am, reading a few short pieces at the 2nd Creative Nonfiction (CNF) Open Mic Night at Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia, on 12 Sep 2014. Many thanks to owner Josh Niesse for hosting us once again!

And, just for grins, here’s a photo of me mid-read:

2014-09-12 20.15.05

The pieces are all previously published on this site, and are as follows:

Hope you’ll join us at the next reading in January 2015. For details, Like Underground Books on Facebook, or Follow me on Twitter (@WilliamsWrite) or Facebook (RS Williams).

George Jones: 1931-2013

September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013

June Carter Cash: 1929-2003

Country music legend June Carter Cash was born this day in 1929. Here’s her famous duet, “Jackson,” with husband Johnny Cash.

Waylon Jennings: An original outlaw

Country music legend Waylon Jennings was born this day in 1932. In this 1970 video clip, he performs “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” during an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show.

Here, he plays the black-and-white scrollwork Fender Telecaster with which many people identify him. Some may also remember this guitar from the intro sequence of The Dukes of Hazzard.

Kentucky what?

I’d forgotten how good this song is until I stumbled across the video yesterday evening. The Kentucky Headhunters’ Pickin’ on Nashville still holds up 24 years after its release.

Happy birthday, Willie Nelson

There should be a law against saying “Willie Nelson” and “80th birthday” in the same sentence. Good thing there isn’t, though, because I’d be going to jail right about now.

In honor of the Red-Headed Stranger’s birthday, here’s his version of “The Rainbow Connection,” first made famous by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie (1979). The video has quite a long intro; Willie comes in at 1:51.

Happy birthday, Willie! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

Roy Orbison: 1936-1988

Today would have been Roy Orbison’s 77th birthday.

The first time I’d ever heard of him was in 1987, when The Traveling Wilburys (Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Tom Petty) released “Handle with Care.” I had heard Van Halen’s version of his classic “Pretty Woman,” but somehow failed to make the connection between Orbison’s original and the 1980s cover.

No matter. This song was so unlike anything on late-1980s radio that I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of Roy Orbison. That fragile, haunting voice—where’s it coming from? His mouth barely moves, yet all this world-weary heartbreak still pours forth.

But the next year, he died of a heart attack at 52, and his record company released Mystery Girl posthumously. My favorite from that album, “You Got It,” was a simultaneous #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Hot Country Songs charts. It was also his first hit in nearly 25 years.

Rest in peace, Roy, and thank you.

Happy birthday, Roy Clark

It doesn’t seem possible that Roy Clark can be 80 years old—today, or any day. In my mind, he’s forever 45 and hosting Hee Haw with Buck Owens, or making guest appearances on The Muppet Show.

Speaking of which…

For something a little more serious, here’s Roy in 1969 performing a blistering version of “Malagueña,” which he’s made his own over the years.

Happy birthday, Roy! Thanks for sharing your many talents with us.

Happy birthday, Loretta Lynn

Her 81st birthday, no less!

“Portland, Oregon” is one of my favorite tracks from Van Lear Rose. The entire album is stellar, though, so it’s hard to choose just one. Since nearly everyone’s familiar with Loretta Lynn’s best-known work, I thought I’d share this in honor of her special day.

Thank you, Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

15 January 1929 – 4 April 1968

Happy birthday to the Man in Black

John R. Cash
Feb 26, 1932 – Sep 12, 2003

Five Random Songs: 2/25/13

The “cat and owl playing” video is the first time I ever heard this post’s featured Random Song. Too bad Sopa De Cabra broke up before I got a chance to see them live. Of course, I probably couldn’t have understood a single thing they sang, as all their lyrics are in Çatalan. Who cares? The music’s good.

As usual, here are five songs I chose at random (more or less) from my music collection. I used Random.org’s number generator to come up with the numbers and choose which songs I’d feature this time. Want to join in the fun? Post your selections and/or the URL for your own random song blog post in the Comments section. And, of course, happy listening! Continue reading

Run-On: Not Just a Really Long Sentence!

Thank goodness for Grammar Girl’s parody of those awful Head On ads to help explain run-on sentences. Some of my students have had trouble understanding what’s wrong with their run-on sentences. Comma splices and sentence fragments are in there, too. Perhaps this will help.

Five Random Songs: 1/14/13

Here’s the first Five Random Songs post of the new year. It’d be a shame not to continue the fun into 2013 with a song from, oh, 1983.

As usual, here are five songs from my music collection, chosen at random. If you create your own list of Five Random Songs, please let me know by posting the URL in the Comments section below.

Won’t you join us? Continue reading

Happy birthday to the King

Elvis Aaron Presley was born this day in 1935. This would have been his 78th birthday.

The key to good creative work? Do a lot of it.

Ira Glass of This American Life reassures creative types that frustration is normal early on. (Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings!)

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

David Shiyang Liu’s kinetic typography brings Glass’s words to life in a way that combines reading and hearing.

My favorite lines:

The most important possible thing you can do is to do a lot of work … because it’s only by going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap [between your expectations and the quality of your work].

What we create isn’t supposed to be brilliant when we first start out. It’s normal for our early work not to meet our expectations. Just as Anne Lamott counsels us, we have to get through the not-so-good material in order to discover the really good material.

I feel much better now.

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