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Gary Burr

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Hit Song or Ice Cream: Tough Choice

Posted: 05/18/2012 10:57 am

Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman recently formed the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. They are finishing their first album and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.

A few years ago my friend Victoria Shaw (a very famous songwriter) called me up and asked me to join her the next day to write a song with a 14-year-old girl. She wanted me to help with the heavy lifting in case the girl had a not uncommon condition in Nashville called "Can'twriteasongtosaveyourass-itis." (That's the Latin name...in English it's called "Potted Plant Syndrome.")

I had just written about 56 days in a row and I was tired and cranky. "I need tomorrow off!" I whined. She begged. I hung up in the secure knowledge that a day off was more important than one more song. What could putting myself first for a change possibly hurt?

She wrote with Taylor Swift without me. (Who, apparently, does not suffer from PPS.)

Damn. You skip work one day and it's "Goodbye, Grammy"!

In 1983 my Dad passed away. I was obviously very sad and I decided to go out and get some ice cream to help myself feel better. As I passed my writing room I suddenly decided to skip the ice cream and write a song for my father. Believe me, it was a toss up. I loved my Dad but I like me some ice cream.

I stayed home and wrote the song. The song that I almost didn't write became one of my most famous and successful songs and was one of the main reasons, I believe, why I was inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame many years later. A great big lesson that my new songwriting gig was going to be a hard taskmaster.

I believe I was given a very good work ethic by my Dad but...come on! Thinking that the next song I write might always be the one that wins the lottery for me makes me either a) roll up my sleeves and throw myself into each day with a renewed sense of purpose, or b) cry softly into my pillow every morning, squeezing my eyes shut against the light streaming into my bedroom.

Every Ferris Bueller day I take better be worth it because it's a song I didn't write. (This is why every time I DO take a day off it is spent either at the zoo or a strip club. I'm kidding...I'm kidding. Zoos scare me.)

It is, therefore, very daunting to think that this summer when I hit the road with Blue Sky Riders, I will basically be taking 100 Ferris Bueller days. I am apparently betting that this new project will financially take the place of my day job, writing for artists. I fear that the artists won't notice I am gone. Example: I run into people all the time here in Nashville who ask me how I like living in LA. I don't LIVE in LA. I am still living right here in Nashville because I love Nashville and I love being a songwriter-for-hire. Leaving town for any length of time makes this entire industry throw you a wake and say nice things about you. You know you are out of the mainstream of this industry when people are saying nice things about you.

Oh well. Being on the road with Kenny and Georgia is a blast. I will write while bouncing in the back lounge of the bus as often as I can. I used to write songs after a full day of being an electrician. Now I guess I'll be back to writing songs after a full day of being a Rock Star. (Yes, I just referred to myself as a Rock Star. I am indeed an asshole.)

Maybe I'll finally get to write with Taylor Swift if and when our band opens for her. I hear she's very forgiving.

 

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