I wish I could take credit for that, but I can't. It's a Billy Joel quote from an interview with Barbara Walters.
He asked him, "You are one of the most prolific songwitahs fwom many years, and what advice would you give younger people watching you?"

He looked into the camera, and very slowly said..."Try...very hard....NOT TO SUCK."

I've always liked that.

No, I didn't write anything with Shelby. Actually only met her once. That was during the era that you could get songs to artists, and there was a divide between writers and artists. But like almost everything, there was a TON of luck involved.

After my band broke up, I was sort of homeless. Rock music was completely changing and I no longer had a home in that genre. I met someone at a meeting of songwriters. The way I found out about it, was my Father, happened to get his morning paper, and the next door neighbor who he had never met, asked if I was a songwriter? My Dad said "Well he's loud."
That got me to the meeting, of people I had never even known about. At that meeting was a guy named Ron Muir, who had lived in NAshville for ten years with a few medium hits in the 70's and 80's. He had moved back to Birmingham to take care of his aging father in law. That guy was one of the best writers I had ever met and we began a great friendship. Once a week I would go to his office (he had gotten completely out of music) and I paid him for private lessons to mentor me about Nashville.

That led to us writing a song based upon a saying from my Father, Grady Barnette. The story was about a guy who was hurting terribly. Goes to see his doctor and the Dr. asks where it hurts. The guy is a trucker and starts talking about the woman who left him and all the places it hurts as he drives across the land. WE got a map of the US, threw darts at it and where they hit was the city or state we put in. The song, called "THAT'S WHERE IT HURTS" was on the first project I did in Nashville.

It had a slow, vocal intro setting up the song, then kicks into a Texas two step. I recorded it and after three trips, I moved to NAshville. On the first night at a writers night, I met a guy who was not in the music business who liked my funny stuff. So I gave him a tape with that song and 9 others on it. The guy was not in the music business, but his roommate was, in the tape room at Tree publishing, erasing tapes from writers trying to pitch songs (Wonder where those "NO UNSOLICITED MATERIAL" pitches end up?" Garbage cans, or erased so that other songwriters could record over them.)

That guy, who was at Tree music, was playing the tape for random people at the company, including the vice president. As they were playing that song on the stereo, a producer, named Billy Sherril, who discovered George Jones and Tammy Wynette, was walking down the hall to go to the bathroom and over heard my song. HE was looking for a song for a scene in a TV movie,called ANOTHER PAIR OF ACES. It needed a slow intro, and then to kick into a Texas Two step. That movie starred Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, and was going to be filmed soon.

Shelby Lynne was going to be singing in the bar in the scene and Willie, Kris and actress Sela Ward would be in the scene and end up two stepping to the song. The movie was on CBS television and she was going to be produced by Billy Sherril, who had discovered her. Her label was CBS, so that tied in with the movie and the record label. And it woudl go on her "SUNRISE" album. Which was her first album. That's how it happened. And my Dad, who was a co-writer on the song, got to see his idol, Willie, two step to his song. Was a lot of fun and paid pretty well. Not bad for a first night in town.

But it is basically an illustration of what I consider the FOUR steps of the music industry.


Had I not been networking, meeting people, and a lucky break, I wouldn't have made that first songwriter's meeting, I never would have met Ron Muir and discovered about Nashville and professional songwriting. and if I had not gone out performing and meeting people, I would have never had the opportunity.

Had I not met Ron, I would not have the skill or direction to write something that would work in that pitch. The song was well created and fit a perfect niche.

Had we not recorded the song professionally, with Nashville players that made it sound like competitive songs, it would have never been considered.

And because all those things worked, it opened up a career that has lasted over 30 years and kept me in the game far longer than most of the people I have known who have quit. And enabled me to see larger pictures of the entire industry, enabling me to reinvent, adapt, and stay relevant, not to mention all the people I have had a positive infuence on. Not a bad chance meeting.

That's how it happened and that song continues to pay off. Right before Christmas, I was contacted by a friend of mine, Hit songwriter, and artist, Michael Peterson, a Nashville hit artist who now lives in Las Vegas. He had seen me perform it on a live stream performance I did on a show here and just happened to pull that song out because it had the word "Houston" in it. There was a family from Houston who happened in that day. Michael has decided to put it on his upcoming CD project.

So weird things happen. All part of a very odd business. And why you can't really plan, predict or understand how any of this works. Just gotta have faith.