Dobson’s Lyrics Will Live On

DobsonI didn’t know him. I didn’t know of him. Man, I love when awareness smacks me so hard I have to spend days in study, listening mode, and one mind-blowing rationalization leads to another.

In this case I’m talking about Texas-born songwriter and novelist Richard Dobson, who last week passed away in Switzerland, where he lived with his wife much of the last 17 years. He was 75. His songs were recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, Nanci Griffith, Kelly Willis, Carlene Carter and many others. One of his books is entitled: Pleasures of the High Rhine – A Texas Singer in Exile.

“Forever, For Always, For Certain,” “Baby Ride Easy,” “Old Friends,” “Piece of Wood and Steel,” and the one that’s been running continually in my head for the last week, “Hard By The Highway,” are a few of his many song titles. None were mainstream hits, but Dobson’s songs were poetic and visual.

Dobson was no follower. But he followed three of his renegade songwriting brothers, Townes Van Zandt (“Poncho and Lefty,” cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” at the end of The Big Lebowski), Steve Young (Seven Bridges Road), and Clark (Desperados Waiting on a Train) to eternity.

These free spirits and outlaw tunesmiths can be seen in the 1976 documentary Heartworn Highways (or many youtube titles), sitting around with a few other up-and-comers – Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Coe, Gamble Rogers, Jim McGuire, The Charlie Daniels Band, Larry Jon Wilson taking turns picking their tunes, chatting, telling stories, coming down from gigs in prisons and high schools. Here are the lyrics to “Hard By The Highway”:

 

Five hundred miles from the Mexican border

The days getting shorter, the nights getting colder

Hard by the highway, he leans on her shoulder

A little bit tired and a little bit older

The days keep on running, down through the seasons

Running like a prairie fire, wild with no reason

The Devil’s to pay for the moments he’s seizing

Still nothing is lost that’s left to believe in

 

He’s got little to lose and his only companions

Are the liquor that he loves, the rambling and the gambling

The coyote answers from back in the canyon

Hungry for more than plain understanding

Sometimes it gets hard, sometimes it’s amusing

When kindness repaid is just an illusion

When blind men know best what to make of confusion

And dead men know nothing at all

 

Still he dreams of a lady who’ll lay down beside him

He prays for the day when the sweet Lord will guide him

To one who might drain all the poison inside him

Let him hang up his boots with his traveling behind him

But it’s five hundred miles from the Mexican border

The days getting shorter, the nights getting colder

As hard by the highway he leans on her shoulder

A little bit tired, a little bit older

See it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O0UOPPzycg

 Rodney Crowell’s new “Nashville, 1972” mentions many in the group: https://www.rollingstone.com/country/videos/watch-rodney-crowell-busk-in-nashville-1972-video-w472431

 John Prine called Dobson one of the country’s finest songwriters. He was tabbed the Hemingway of country music by Nanci Griffith, which to me means he will not be forgotten, and his words will live on.  

© 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friends Old and New Give “Hope” a Bump

You just never know where your next bump is coming from. My first novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, experienced a bit of a resurrection when The Lost Lantern was released in July. Let me clarify. I’m talking about going from a drip to a trickle, though it has sold more consistently in the last few weeks. And yet, I hadn’t received any new reviews on Hope in at least six or eight months, maybe more.

Shadow Copy thumbnail I realize that writing a review – going to the Amazon or Goodreads site – is new for some and can be uncomfortable. You’re putting your opinion, your thoughts, out there, sometimes with your name attached. There is also the tightrope of honesty versus appeasing/not upsetting the author. As one of my lifelong friends put it, “I don’t want to be THAT guy,” (accentuating the negative).  I also realize it’s an additional time commitment, after the reader has generously given hours of their lives to the author.

I’ve been blessed to know the sweet and amiable Dawn Snyder for going on 40 years – school buds, mutual work friends, overlapping non-traditional college experiences, and ongoing Lantern Thumbsmall-town life. I’ve known Jeremy Fallecker for less than three, he’s a young man not even close to pushing 40 years old. He carried The Long Shadow of Hope with him to Kuwait, honorably serving our country with the Air National Guard. His codename on top of the list is “Bandit.” ( I hope that’s not a security breach!)

Both friends took time this week to write informative, thoughtful reviews, and that means the world to an “Indie” writer like me. If you care to take a peek, click on this link: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/community  I also want to again thank two former SAHS English teachers, Cathy McClanahan and Carla Williamson, along with our close neighbor at my parents’ home of untold years, Gayle Michael, for their recent reviews of The Lost Lantern.

Thanks, in fact, to everyone who has read or purchased my books. I’m going to try to keep this circus rolling, while writing novel number three. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, A.S.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

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Just over 30 hours remain to enter to win a free copy of my new novel, The Lost Lantern. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, tomorrow, December 3. It’s easy to do.

Just click on this link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/9de9b7bc52e07df5

 Lantern ThumbIf you win it will be delivered to your door.  If you’re not a reader, give it to one on your Christmas list. Your odds of winning are quite high. If you’re doubting its worth, read reviews on my Amazon author page: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/community

Good Luck, thanks, and Merry Christmas! A.S.

Pictured above, Coal River at Twilight from the Hayes Bridge.

 

 

 

 

© 2017

The Lost Lantern Sweepstakes

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Do you have a favorite book? A top five or ten list?

Have you read a book where you imagined the author opened a vein and bled for you? A book where there was so much hurt you felt it, followed by joy and elation, then more disappointment, followed by intrigue, and perhaps happiness? A book where the characters you’ve visualized stay in your mind and return to you later? You lived the tension they experienced, and felt empathy, anger, or disgust?

Transferring feelings to readers from the written page is the goal of any author, and certainly is for me. My most recent Lantern Thumbrelease came from deep within, I assure you. It is a tale with much raw emotion.

For the next week you can enter to win a paperback copy of my new book, The Lost Lantern. Please follow this link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/9de9b7bc52e07df5

If you win, it will be shipped to your door. If you don’t win, please consider reading both my books, which are also available electronically on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com.

Good luck and as always, thank you for reading. A.S.

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P.S.  I would enjoy reading what book means the most to YOU. My favorite is For Whom The Bell Tolls.

© 2017

The Ballads of Two Thin Men

HUNTINGTON, WV – Had the pleasure of seeing Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt together in concert, two chairs, taking turns, accompanying each other, singing harmony, Hiatt playing leads. If you get the chance and are so inclined, don’t miss it. Well worth it. Had to borrow some words to get this ball rolling again. Thanks for reading, A.S.

 

Heard the ballads of two thin men, yet I’m empty of all words.

For a song that is in search of, a bridge and a third verse.

Now Hiatt he would blues it out, Lyle would take it deep,

The difference would be negligible, their writing not discreet.

 

“She’s no lady,” he proclaims, although she wears his ring,

“She’s my wife,” he coyly lets us in, complete is his slow zing.

That image always makes me smile, unlike the next great find,

Sad to think, without a blink, “She’s already made up her mind.”

 

Johnny tests the great conquest, with this the perfect line,

From narra’tor – “His beer was warmer, than the look in her eye.”

If his “Smashing a perfectly good guitar” don’t tickle,

Neither “Tennessee Plates,” nor “Baby Drive South” – you’re fickle.

 

“Honey it’s so early, we probably shouldn’t speak yet,”

So “I’m gonna wait, just a little bit longer,”

“My Baby Won’t Tolerate” an “Icy Blue Heart,”

So if you failed to Lovett, “It Feels Like Rain,” and “You’re Paper Thin.”

 

© 2017

 

Back To The Beach

Lantern ThumbAuthor’s note: Fellow author Lance Carney’s 5-star review of The Lost Lantern on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.com came at just the right time. Less than 10 weeks after its release, reinforcing commentary goes a long way towards continuing momentum and spreading the good word.

Incidentally, Carney’s humorous first novel, Ripped Tide, is among just three other finalists for the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book Awards in the humor/comedy category. You can vote (by Oct. 31) for Lance’s book at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7wJh5GcE90bHjJoK-y_QxUtahp7teTSBrcpxWVIBzj-i0qA/viewform

This was “Lantern’s” 11th review (4.7-rating thus far). Thanks again to Lance and to those who took me from five to 10: Pat Paxton, Sandra Rohr, Sissy Offutt, Robert (unknown), and Carla VanWyck. I appreciate you all!
Back to the Beach for a Story of Racism, Greed, Betrayal, Bribery and Murder

     It’s “back to the beach” but not for a fun romp in the sand. This return to Sun Fun City and the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a blend of racism, greed, betrayal, bribery and murder, including a connected, unsolved murder from years before. John Gates doesn’t see that in his future—he is just trying for a new start on life and to reunite with three friends, all who traveled there six years earlier to work the restaurants of Murrells Inlet during college summers. Along the way, John bumps into William McMillian, an African American he worked with at Captain Dan’s for a couple of summers. William has always wanted to start his own restaurant, The Lost Lantern, and thinks his boss, Danny Rivers and his brothers are helping him when they take his down payment on a property with a rundown restaurant. John Gates and his friends pull out all the stops to try and help William realize his dream while the Rivers’ brothers on the other side will stop at nothing to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The Lost Lantern takes readers back to the 1980s when Myrtle Beach was coming of age with second and third generation tourists. It’s also a sampling of the author’s personal experiences working the seafood hot spots of Murrells Inlet. As in his excellent first book, The Long Shadow of Hope, Andy Spradling once again serves up what he knows best. As a former restaurant owner, his insight into the restaurant business adds authenticity to the story. The restaurants, bars and businesses of Myrtle Beach at the time also lend a nostalgic backdrop to the tale (one scene takes place at the popular watering hole, The Afterdeck, long before it became a strip club). The characters are vivid, complex and flawed, even the good guys, so you can’t help but fall into the story, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. I highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

The Grade Savior

Author’s note: Mr. Tom Morgan, center, and a former star-student Loretta (Franciose) Goolbsy last month at the Art Walk, in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. Mr. Morgan taught English Composition for the college bound at our high school, and I never learned more in a class. He was an inspiration and 35 years later I was proud to be able to hand him my second novel. Thanks for reading! A.S.

 

In a town that was booming from a chemical craze,

A time not forgotten, but most certainly changed,

The vitality caused by the brilliance of many,

Their children raised with expectations a’plenty.

 

Inside walls that held so many young minds,

Was a wizard of sorts, who gave sight to the blind.

The tool that he used was his Grade Saver Sheet,

From a standpoint of learning it couldn’t be beat.

 

Prepositions, slang, expressions deemed trite,

The comma, if questioned, must take a quick hike.

If you naively asked how to spell a tough word,

D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y was what you heard.

 

Compositions completed was just half the fight,

Cause a pronoun misused dropped your “A” out of sight.

“Express, not impress,” his writing decree,

Two spliced indie clauses a comma fait accompli.

 

“A lot” was a place and if it made your paper,

A great deal of anguish was soon to come later.

If you shifted a tense, or let a sentence run on,

Used You and Your pronouns, you best just be gone.

 

You could take those themes on with you to college,

’Cause the 101-ers you met didn’t have your knowledge.

Just correct, re-write and turn them on in,

With the time that you saved you could go for a spin.

 

If you look back with less than a smile you ain’t tryin’,

And if you say you learned little I just ain’t a-buyin’,

And if “ain’t” was uttered, he would show no restraint,

Tom Morgan, by God, would express his complaint.

 

© 2017