R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Music (page 1 of 4)

Friday Photo: 9/8/17

“Meditation Garden Window, Graceland”
Memphis, Tennessee – July 2013

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

When Dreams Speak

Lately, I’ve felt uncomfortable in my own skin. All I want to do is hide from the world. Everything feels weird, ungainly, and awkward—like a return to my teen years, times 100. And, of course, this feeling hits exactly when I most need to be visible, both in person and online. Of course.

Then I sigh and remember that this is how it always goes. This always happens when I’m dealing with a lot of emotion. Everything has to find a place to go. Eventually, it all finds its way out, in some form. Sharing it here with you makes the process a little more bearable.

This overwhelming urge to hide reminds me of a dream I had several months ago. It means even more to me now than it did then.

In the dream, I had to go onstage at my friend Maggie’s small music venue, as part of Singer-Songwriter Open Mic Night. This was NOT something I wanted to do. I do not play guitar well at all. I have written exactly five-and-a-half corny, semi-original songs.

But I had to do it. Maggie needed my help. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint her. So I picked up my guitar, trudged to the stage, and steeled myself for utter humiliation.

There I was, singing and playing each of my little songs: timid, ready to cry, dying of embarrassment. My performance wasn’t bad; rather, it was just so painful to be in front of a crowd when I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a musician or songwriter. My fingers kept missing frets when I’d go for a C major, a B7 major, or an F# minor barre (“easy” for most players, but difficult for me due to peripheral nerve issues). The muted strings and missed notes made me want to disappear. “Why did I ever agree to this? I’ll never be able to show my face in town ever again…”

But when I’d finish a song and start to walk offstage, the people in the audience clapped and clapped. They kept asking me to stay and play another. And another. And another. Each time I sat back down behind the mic, I thought, “Oh God, what if I run out of songs? I don’t think I have any left…not that I had that many to begin with…”

It didn’t matter. Again and again, every time I tried to leave, they waved me back up onstage. I guess I didn’t run out of songs after all. There I was, red-faced and wanting to crawl into a hole…but the people were so kind and supportive.

And they weren’t just being polite. They kept asking for more—more songs about trains rumbling in the distance. More songs about orphaned baby chimney swifts, and day lilies in roadside ditches, and the ghosts of beloved cats, and the smell of kudzu blossoms in the rain, and sweet, lonely, messed-up fellas from Opelika, Alabama.

Don’t get too excited. You won’t be seeing me at any real-life Open Mic Nights, at least not anytime soon. Instead, I take all this to mean I’m supposed to be “onstage.” I take all this to mean that there are people out there just waiting for my little “songs”—people who need to know that someone else knows what it’s like to be weird and uncomfortable and awkward, yet still fully in and of this world.

Photo: “Self Portrait: Restoration No. 1” (Newnan, Georgia, 3 August 2017)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 8/14/17

“Brocade, Velvet, Patent Leather”
Pure Life Studios
LaGrange, Georgia – 8 July 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 6/7/17

“The View from Cannery Row”
Nashville, Tennessee – 18 September 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/2/17

“Bass Fiddle at Rest”
Nashville, Tennessee – 21 May 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Reunion in Brass and Mother-of-Pearl

Twenty-four years have passed since we last met. Strange, because it seems like just yesterday when we waved goodbye. She looked a little sad, but assured me that she’d be around whenever I needed her. No worries. She’d be right where I left her. And she meant it.

Even as she approaches her 73rd birthday, she’s still radiant. Her voice remains strong and smoky. She hasn’t grown gaunt with age, as some of us do, but still weighs in at a hefty, healthy 20 pounds. She’s never been ashamed of her worn lacquer, her scratches,  her oft-repaired and dangerously thin brass. Don’t make the mistake of suggesting to her that those are flaws to be camouflaged and hidden away. Oh, no. She won’t hear of it. Those “wrinkles” mean she’s been places. She’s seen things. She has loved and been loved—and she will continue to love. She has lived fully and deeply, as most of us never will.

Does she ever think of France? Does she long for that little factory south of Paris where she came into the world, where one of Monsieur Noblet’s craftsmen  stamped “9346” in the small of her bell seam? Whenever I ask, she changes the subject.

She’d rather talk about the Rubank exercises that we both hated at first but quickly grew to love, or that grueling Dvoràk piece we aced in the winter of 1993. She gets excited when I suggest we try “Night Train” again, and pushes for a dirty, raunchy, uptempo “gut-bucket” version. She wonders why I still haven’t bought the Dukoff 10* metal mouthpiece that I wouldn’t shut up about all those years ago.

Is she protecting me? Or herself?

It doesn’t matter. She kept her two-decades-old promise: I needed her, and there she was. Or, rather, here she is, as patient and solid and accepting as ever. As I slowly rebuild my wind and dexterity,  she stays with me. She picks up where we left off, telling her story and mine in that steady, husky tenor—singing every note with longing, and with love.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

NOTE: I first posted this piece on 16 March 2015. It appears here today with revisions.

 

Friday Photo: 3/10/17

“Mother Church Windows”
Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee – 16 September 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 2/13/17

Marshall Ruffin‘s Girl”
Pure Life Studios
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 January 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Waiting, with Graphic Patterns

waitingwithgraphicpatterns02_2015-09-18

Nashville, Tennessee – 18 September 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 10/5/16

DowntownNashvilleTuesday600PM_COPY_2016-08-02

“Downtown Nashville, Tuesday, 6:00 PM”
Nashville, Tennessee – 2 August 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 9/21/16

LateNightLowerBroadway_COPY_2015-09-19_00.13.54

“Late Night, Lower Broadway”
Nashville, Tennessee – 19 September 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Bluegrass and Pabst

BluegrassAndPabst_COPY2_2015-05-22_23.06.01

David Peterson & 1946, at the legendary Station Inn
Nashville, Tennessee – 22 May 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 7/25/16

OneWayToGetToNashville_COPY_2015-06-26_20.48.43

“One Way to Get To Nashville”
Pure Life Studios
LaGrange, Georgia – 26 June 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

 

A Quiet Moment in Nashville

AQuietMomentInNashville_COPY_2015-09-16

Nashville, Tennessee – 16 September 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Bass Fiddle, at Rest

 

BassFiddleAtRest_COPY02_05-21-2015

Nashville, Tennessee – 21 May 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Tammy Wynette Sign, Tremont, Mississippi

TammyWynetteMemorialSignTremontMississippi_COPY_2016-04-14

Alabama-Mississippi state line – 14 April 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Ladies’ Room Floor, Mercy Lounge

LadiesRoomFloorMercyLounge_COPY_2014-09-18-19.12

Nashville, Tennessee – 18 September 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

There’s More Than One King at Graceland

TheresMoreThanOneKingAtGraceland_COPY_2013-07-25_15

Presley Family Grave Site
Graceland (Memphis, Tennessee) – 23 July 2013

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Reunion in Brass and Mother-of-Pearl

ReunionInBrassAndMotherOfPearl_COPY_2015-02-14 16.55.22-1

Twenty-three years have passed since we last met. Strange, because it seems like just yesterday when we waved goodbye. She looked a little sad, but assured me that she’d be around whenever I needed her. No worries. She’d be right where I left her. And she meant it.

Even as she approaches her 71st birthday, she’s still radiant. Her voice remains strong and smoky. She hasn’t grown gaunt with age, as some of us do, but still weighs in at a hefty, healthy 20 pounds. She’s never been ashamed of her worn lacquer, her scratches,  her oft-repaired and dangerously thin brass. Don’t make the mistake of suggesting to her that those are flaws to be camouflaged and hidden away. Oh, no. She won’t hear of it. Those “wrinkles” mean she’s been places. She’s seen things. She has loved and been loved—and she will continue to love. She has lived fully and deeply, as most of us never will.

Does she ever think of France? Does she long for that little factory south of Paris where she came into the world, where one of Monsieur Noblet’s craftsmen  stamped “9346” in the small of her bell seam? Whenever I ask, she changes the subject.

She’d rather talk about the Rubank exercises that we both hated at first but quickly grew to love, or that grueling Dvoràk piece we aced in the winter of 1993. She gets excited when I suggest we try “Night Train” again, and pushes for a dirty, raunchy, uptempo “gut-bucket” version. She wonders why I still haven’t bought the Dukoff 10* metal mouthpiece that I wouldn’t shut up about all those years ago.

Is she protecting me? Or herself?

It doesn’t matter. She kept her two-decades-old promise: I needed her, and there she was. Or, rather, here she is, as patient and solid and accepting as ever. As I slowly rebuild my wind and dexterity,  she stays with me. She picks up where we left off, telling her story and mine in that steady, husky tenor—singing every note with longing, and with love.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

NOTE: I first posted this piece on 16 March 2015. It appears here today with revisions.

 

Now at Country Universe: My review of Buddy Miller’s latest!

I’m delighted to have my review of Buddy Miller’s new album, Buddy Miller & Friends: Cayamo Sessions at Sea, posted today at Country Universe. I’ve known the folks at CU for eight years—their reviews and artist interviews are independent, well-written, and always interesting.

Check out my guest post and subscribe to Country Universe. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Buddy’s new album. I recommend it highly.

 

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