R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Videos (page 1 of 3)

What MTV used to play…

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.

A song for hard times

Five years ago, I stumbled across this song, and The David Wax Museum‘s “Harder Before It Gets Easier” remains exactly the encouragement I need when things look grim. I love their “Mexo-Americana” sound and unexpected subject matter. This video, art-directed and produced by Shutter + String, is a powerful throwback to some of the most memorable videos of the mid-1980s.

My favorite lines from the song:

You’ve been wrung out and then doused with grief
The ocean of time, in a moment, will be brief
Will be brief…

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

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)


Join Us for a LIVE podcast: Sun 10 July at 4pm Eastern!

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Another reminder that I’ll be a guest on The Show video podcast tomorrow (Sunday 10 July) at 4pm Eastern time! W00t!

Brian Mallard, Timothy Childree, and I have a lot to squeeze into just one hour. I mean, there’s writing, photos, country music, pro wrestling, Southern food, and bizarre stories. Plenty of bizarre stories.

I’ll talk about my novel-in-progress, Songs My Father Barely Knew (links to an excerpt). I’ll also give a brief reading from my work. So far, nobody’s requested bad guitar playing or interpretive modern dance. So far. But, hey, anything could happen.

To join us:

  • Follow this link at 4pm on Sunday 10 July.
  • Program not streaming on the website? Just click here to follow along live on The Show’s official Facebook page.
  • Can’t join us live? No problem! It’ll be archived, so you can watch later.

See you then!

Text and photo © R. S. Williams
“Listen to Merle R. Haggard” shirt courtesy of Trailer Parkman


Tune in to The Show on July 10!


Just a reminder that on Sunday, July 10 at 4pm Eastern, I’ll be a guest on Columbus, Georgia-based video podcast The Show. Looking forward to talking with Brian Mallard and Timothy Childree about my work, recent and upcoming projects, weird Southern stories—and probably even our memories of The Four Horsemen of professional wrestling. Hope you’ll join us!

Oh, the shirt? It’s just telling the truth.

Text and photo © R. S. Williams


July 10: I’m a guest on The Show!


Mark your calendars! At 4:00pm Eastern on July 10, 2016, I’ll be a guest on The Show (link to Facebook page), a wonderful weekly video podcast based in Columbus, Georgia.

Brian Mallard, Timothy Childree, and I will talk about my work and upcoming projects, plus country music, Southern food,  and whatever else crosses our minds. The podcast stream, which you can find here (link to website), begins at 4:00pm sharp on Sunday, July 10, 2016. Hope you’ll join us!

Text & photo © R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)
“I ♥ Remember Country Music” shirt by Standard Deluxe, Waverly, AL


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: Making Grayson Hugh’s New Album Happen

I hadn’t been on Facebook all that long when I began following Grayson Hugh. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I adored his work, and thank goodness he was still making excellent records in 2013. Liking his artist page was natural. I expected I’d see the latest album and show news, a holiday post now and again—the stuff you’d normally see on a celebrity’s social media page (read: boring, canned, written by a PR wonk).

But then award show season arrived, and I found myself snort-laughing at his commentary on all the red-carpet foolery. The back-and-forth with his loyal fans was far funnier than anything the show writers had thought up. He had a sharp, well-read sense of humor grounded not just in extensive pop cultural knowledge, but in literature from Shakespeare to Ralph Ellison and beyond.

The best part? This was no media relations person behind a nationally-known musician’s Facebook page. No, this was Grayson himself. “This guy knows what he’s doing,” I said. “He knows social media’s about relationships, about ongoing conversation. Most people don’t get that.” It warmed my cold, cynical little heart.

A few months later, I opened up Facebook to see a bunch of new Likes on a short creative nonfiction piece I’d posted—”37205,” a piece about the cold, eerie sounds of an ice storm in Nashville, Tennessee. Thirteen likes; one was from Grayson Hugh. I sat stunned for a moment, then ran back and forth through the house Doppler-squeeing with glee, scaring the cats out of at least three lives each. When I texted my sister a screenshot of the Like list, she called me to Doppler-squee all the way from Denver. Goofy, yes, and true.

That was October 2013. Since then, I’ve gotten to know Grayson, and am happy to say that he’s one of the kindest, most interesting, and most talented people I’ve ever met. Not many of us can keep creating over several decades without getting stale—and I hope Gray will eventually clue me in on how he does that, how he keeps every album fresh and solid and unpredictable and damn good. I’d also like to point out that he’s an amazing prose writer, in addition to his incredible verse- and music-writing skills. I’ve met only a handful of songwriters over the years who wield that kind of power.

His upcoming album, Back to the Soul, starts production in Charleston, South Carolina, in early 2015. With a week or so left in his Indiegogo campaign, he’s looking to get this independent record fully funded. There are wonderful perks available at every level—from a signed CD, to a picnic with Gray and his wife/harmony singer Polly Messer, to a one-on-one songwriting lesson, to a backyard concert.

I’m proud to call such a fine artist and person my friend, and to play a small part in making this album a reality. While we’ve done pretty well so far, we’re not quite to the full fundraiser goal, and we have just until December 15 to fully fund the project.

So come on and join us! Click here to find out more and contribute—and thank you so much for supporting Back to the Soul. 


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)

I love old country album covers.

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This old record was a gift from a friend, who picked it up at a yard sale for just 25¢. Ah, the days before Photoshop! I love how each good-naturedly sabotages the other’s guitar.

Red and Ernest’s version of Cindy Walker’s “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age” does my heart proud, as does their take on Leadbelly‘s “Goodnight, Irene.”  If you like both country music and automotive metaphors, you’ll love “It’s the Mileage That’s Slowing Us Down.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a turntable.


Post text © R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)
Cover art © Decca Records

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:

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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

Patsy Cline: 1932-1963

The legendary Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley this day in 1932.

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.

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