Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hall of Fame Induction - Thank you...

Several individuals have requested that I post the comments I offered at the 2011 Nashville Songwriters Foundation's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. And so, with appreciation to so many, I do.
I am honored to be part of this community of songwriters in Nashville, TN. I am not referring to the astonishing event of my inclusion into this Hall of Fame – I don’t think that will ever sink in. I am talking about you: to have been able to walk the streets with you, share jokes, write songs, rejoice in the success of friends, sing harmonies together, work toward the common good and take great pride in the fact that this is the greatest songwriting community on God’s Green Earth – that is the true honor you have bestowed upon me. Not tonight – but for 35 years. Thank you for setting me a place at your lovely table.
I am most grateful to Don Schlitz for taking on the challenge of making me sound worthy of this honor. And to Fred, Tony, Jellyroll and Lacy for breathing life into those humble folk songs. They sound pretty good when I’m not singing them.
On some forgotten evening during my blurry college years in Philadelphia, I picked up my gut string guitar and started writing songs – really bad, self-indulgent, remarkably dull, long, shitty songs. My ego allowed this to continue, unchecked. Some days I would write 3 or 4 of these hideous compositions. Of course, it wasn’t enough that I had convinced myself I was good at this. Soon the night arrived when I took my guitar to a party and shared some of this dreck with my friends. The next time I showed up at a party I overheard someone say, ‘Oh shit, here comes Schuyler and he’s got his guitar.’ (Actually, I heard that at The Bluebird Café’ 2 nights ago.)
So yes, somewhere in my distant past there is a catalog of about 300 songs that no one should or ever will hear again. And yes, 40 years later, every time I sit down anew to try to make something up, it is likely that I will compose something that no one should or ever will hear again. But I wouldn’t trade those hundreds of failed attempts for anything; those were the stepping stones; that is how I worked my way through to a few moments when I recognized the power of a good idea and found the focus to create a few modest songs that, because of your kindness, invited me onto this stage to join such a profound group of gifted men and women. Yes, I am truly honored.
This honor, of course, I lay at the feet of so many that have shared this journey with me. And if my words amount to little else tonight, I so wish them to be a love letter to these dear companions. So I gratefully share this honor by saying:
Dear Nashville, TN: Thank you for receiving so many poets from all over the world and making them feel at home. Thank you for providing such a fine city in which to buy a home, raise a family and make a living.
Dear Jim: Thank you for your encouraging words and the example you and Toni set for all of us.
Dear Keni: Thank you for discovering that reel-to-reel tape on the kitchen table next to my lunch pale.
Dear Even: Thank you for your wisdom, humor, kindness, generosity, enthusiasm and lifelong friendship. You should have preceded me into this Hall of Fame by many years. I will continue to work on that.
Dear Jim: Sarah and I and our children are ever indebted to you for adopting us into the DebDave family. Our affection for you is unparalleled.
Dear Paul: Thank you for sharing your remarkable talent with me and for all the laughs we had in the process. We were an odd couple but what we accomplished together were the rare moments when 1+1 equaled 1.
Dear Robin: Given your diminutive stature I was surprised that you were from Texas. Nonetheless, I loved you the minute you walked through the doors of 1214 16th Avenue. Big, tall PA kisses to you.
Dear Frances, Del, Jody, Mark, Ima and the entire BMI family: Thank you for your unwavering support across these many years. You have been faithful to me and it has meant a lot.
Dear Adele & Dan, Jackie, Kirsten & Diane: Things change, but not what your friendships mean to Sarah and me. We could never have made it without you.
Dear Nancy & Wayland: What a blessing it has been to watch our children grow up together, to share songs, meals and golf. Your family is dear to us.
Dear Linda & Layng: There is a beautifully powerful adage credited to St. Francis of Assisi that reads, “Preach The Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” That has always reminded me of the two of you.
Dear Harlan: You never had to talk to me or any other juveniles in this town; but you did.
Dear Amy: Can I ever thank you enough for allowing me into your club and onto your stage? You, The Bluebird Café’ and all the wonderful human beings who worked that floor over the years offered so many a respectful platform. You are my hero. Dear Eileen & Craig: The best work I’ve ever done as a songwriter was having the privilege of writing words to your astonishing melodies, Craig. However, the best things I’ve witnessed as a father was watching the two of you care for, love, embrace, fight for and raise your beautiful children. Jake Bickhardt is one of my favorite songs.
Dear Susan & Mike: One day we’ll share that evening together, just the four of us, and talk about it all. In the meantime we will cherish our friendships with you.
Dear Karen & David: Simply want you to know how very much you mean to Sarah and me and how deeply connected you are to this moment.
Dear Norro: For a talented veteran to have taken the time to give me a passing moment is astonishing. That you shared so much of your humor and wisdom is extraordinary.
Dear Shirley & Roger: Few have ever reached out to us so completely. Roger, you are my mentor, my companion and still the only guy who makes me laugh so hard that milk or gin runs out of my nose. (The gin burns.)
Dear Phran & Joe: Thank you for your faith in me and for the kindnesses you always extended to Sarah and our family.
Dear Mary Jo & Jellyroll, Jamie & Tony: Thank you for allowing me to drag my suspect talent onto so many stages with you. Your talents are unsurpassed and your friendships are lovely gifts.
Dear Kirke & Margie: There’s nothing we can do about our spouse’s family members. When Sarah and I got married I never expected that her cousin and her cousin’s husband would become our dearest pals. What a beautiful bonus.
Dear Dennis, Beverly and Richard: Few privileges in life compare to being your little brother. I love you dearly.
Dear Fred: Through the booze, the butts, the buses, the tunes, the trials, the tears, the laughs, the losses and the lingering hope you, more than anyone, have remained consistent. We have been transformed from reluctant strangers to brothers. Thank you for being both on and by my side for all these years.
Dear Don: Thank you for having a big head so I don’t stand out in a crowd. Oh, by the way, a funnier, kinder, more gifted, dependable, generous, interesting, caring and concerned BFF does not exist on the earth.
Dear Tallu & Robbie, Roy & Luke: For your mother and me there is no greater treasure than you.
Dear Mom & Dad: You have no idea how much I wish you were here.
Dear Sarah: To have shared these joys with you is the one thing I hold true. “I’m on your side, forever.”
So I’ll cherish The Old Rugged Cross Till my trophies at last I lay down… God Bless you.