Ike Martin 0000-00-00 00:00:00
I once worked for a music company, and part of my territory was Nashville — you know, Music City, where the most popular wind instrument is the “air banjo.” I soon developed an uncanny talent for writing song titles — never lyrics, just titles. I probably missed a great opportunity because Sheb Wooley lived right there in Nashville. Some folks may not be familiar with Sheb or his alter ego, Ben Colder, but in the country music business, he was the clown prince of lyrics. With me writing titles and Sheb writing lyrics, we could have been a successful songwriting team just like those Gershwin boys, Ira and George. I first realized my song-title writing talent one day while watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I said to myself, “Boy, Quasimodo had a tough job! He had to grip that rope and ring that huge bell all day long. Talk about carpel tunnel!” Unfortunately for Quasi, OSHA wouldn’t come along for another 500 years. In my sympathetic state, I decided to write a song title as a tribute to him: “If I Lost My Grip, Would My Face Still Ring a Bell?” I immediately began to embrace my gift. I started turning out great titles with the passing of each day. I followed “If I Lost My Grip” with a sentimental ballad “Take These Chains From My Heart and Cancel the Restraining Order.” Then still in a romantic state, I penned “You Gave Me Your Heart (I Wanted A Hunting Dog).” With every trip to Nashville, my appreciation for country music increased, and soon I was writing song titles as tributes to my favorite singers. Kris Kristofferson was the inspiration for my tearful “I Wish You Had Turned My Head and Left My Stomach Alone.” An encounter with Willie Nelson led to a conversation on song-title writing, and I penned “Mama Played Bass (Daddy Played the Field).” I was also fascinated by David Allan Coe’s ability to turn a phrase and provoke a thought with a minimum number of words, such as his legendary, “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile.” So I channeled DAC and wrote, “From the Gutter to You Was Uplifting.” I’ll admit that it didn’t have the cachet of “Take This Job and Shove It,” but I had found my calling. One day while having lunch, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two women at an adjacent table. They were saying the nastiest things about various ladies they knew. At that moment, I realized that in the South, you can say anything mean and catty about another person as long as three certain words are always tacked on to the end the insult. Out of that epiphany came, “She Don’t Know She’s Ugly (Bless Her Heart).” After awhile, I realized that I could apply my newfound talent to my hometown of Memphis. All I had to do was alter my gift for a bluesier genre. I had a friend who became my blues inspiration. He had written “Germantown Blues,” an account of the trials and tribulations of a Poor soul living in an upscale community. It included lyrics about a cold Jacuzzi, an over-heated Mercedes, and a daughter who didn’t win the horse show. I decided to follow his lead concerning the hard luck of suburbia. Soon thereafter, a suburbia friend of mine decided to raise freerange chickens in her backyard, only to encounter a neighborhood outcry against the rooster that she had purchased — which crowed loudly every morning at 5 o’clock sharp. The neighbors took up a collection to buy her a more refined rooster — a Rhode Island Red Plaid. Inspired, I created “My Rooster’s Too Uppity to Crow Today.” While listening to a friend bemoan her financial predicament, I thought, “The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but a Good Woman with a Bad Credit Card.” From listening to a friend tell me about her husband bringing home a dog came, “Wayne, Dang, Is that a Poodle?” Unfortunately, I received my epiphany too late to team up with Sheb Wooley, who’s departed this world. We would have made a great team — although anyone creative enough to chronicle the misfortunes of the typical upper middle class probably doesn’t need any help.
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bluetoad.com/article/So+It+Goes/771309/74211/article.html.