DIARY - 30 OCTOBER 2003
WELCH SNOOKER AND SONGS
was raised on the road/ staring down the line/got my education/
reading those highway signs" - I Am No Drifter - Kevin Welch.
prolific writers Kevin Welch and Michael Henderson wrote a song
at a boys' night out they celebrated with a game of snooker and
promptly forgot about it.
That was until they learned that How Bad Do You Want It had been
recorded by hot new Nashville band Trick Pony.
The song could be Welch's most lucrative since Oklahoma born superstar
Garth Brooks de-composed his song Pushin' Up Daisies and Chris
LeDoux cut Millionaire.
"It was a little tune we had forgotten," Welch, 48,
told Nu Country from Brisbane on his fifth Australian tour.
"We totally forgot all about it. Henderson is the only guy
I do that with, it's like a boys' night out. We go out to Henderson's
place and write a song that we don't care if neither of us cuts
it or not. We write a song and then we shoot snooker."
AND SON WRITE TOGETHER
was a young woman I loved her well/ she was all my eyes could see/ for
all I could do, her heart was never true/ still I could not leave her
be/ I found her in bed with another man/ I killed him in his sleep, I
was quick with him/ but she died only when she awoke and she began to
weep." - 'Glorious Bounties' - Dustin and Kevin Welch.
far more vivid memories of writing with his son Dustin about whom he wrote
Song For Dustin for his debut album in 1990.
"I got him a Merle Haggard cassette when he was 10 and thought I
was out of my mind," Welch says of an era that produced other family
"Till I See You Again' was also written to my children and 'Till
I'm Too Old To Die Young' (a hit for Texan cowboy singer Moe Bandy) was
written when my daughter Savanna was born. It's all about how mortal we
The duo wrote Glorious Bounties for Welch's disc Millionaire and a new
tune that may surface on a Welch-Kieran Kane duet studio disc after he
returns to Nashville.
"We wrote a song called Joy," Welch revealed, "if no-one
else cuts I probably will. Dustin and Justin Earle are working on a record
produced by Justin's father Steve for their band Justin Earle & His
Swindlers. It's not as dark as Glorious Bounties. I really like the song.
I want to do something with it. I don't do much co-writing with anyone
Welch is fiercely proud of the writing of Dustin whose band with Justin
includes Travis Nicholson, son of Fort Worth born writer Gary Nicholson.
Nicholson has written many hits including Lee Roy Parnell's former Seven
Network AFL TV footy theme 'If The House Is Rockin' (Don't Bother Knockin'.)
"The whole generational thing is really rocking," says Welch
who is amazed by his son's imagery on 'Glorious Bounties' - a cheating
song with a double murder finale - from The Millionaire album.
"Dustin wrote most of the lyrics," Welch confessed, "I
was more an editor. I sliced and diced. It's ice cold, isn't it? He's
a helluva writer. I can't help smiling when I'm singing that verse."
expand his 500-song plus catalogue with his partner Claudia Scott?
"Claudia and I have written together but not for a while," Welch
says, "she's over in a long term musical in Norway about a Swedish
songwriter Speswich. He was a national hero who died about 20 years ago.
The play is about his family and songs. It's a big hit, could be going
on for a while."
So will this inspire Welch, born in Long Beach, California, but forced
to move homes 70 times before he was 17 because of the work of his aircraft
mechanic father, to explore the tyranny of distance and absence in a new
"Maybe," quipped Welch who says he doesn't write much while
Not even in Australia where he is touring with Sydney band The Flood to
promote their CD, Live Down Here On Earth on Shock Records.
Welch recorded fifth album Millionaire with The Danes, and cut the live
disc with The Flood after they teamed with him at Gympie Muster.
"I also wrote Breakfast Wines And Whiskey Dinners here," Welch
recalled, "I wrote it just for the Loxley winery gig. It was the
last time I played it. I mainly write at home."
Welch and Kane cut a live album at the now defunct Continental Café
in Prahran in 1999 and have plenty of songs for their new project.
"We've just got songs laying around but what always seems to happen
when I'm about to record is I write a couple of songs right before the
session," Welch confessed, "those will turn out to be among
my favourites and are recorded then."
Although Welch is a prolific writer he also guests on peers' albums as
The latest was It's Not About The Money by Reckless Johnny Wales, better
known as former Warner Music promotions wiz kid Bob Saporiti.
"Yeah, I went in and sang on one song," Welch confessed, "Bob
Saporiti is a dear friend of mine and I was thrilled to come across a
real good review of that in Mojo. It was really cool. Me and Saproiti
used to travel together when he was at Warner Bros. We travelled all over
the world together. He was the guy who came up with the term Western Beat."
Western Beat was the title of Welch's 1992 album and also a name given
to Billy Block's roots country radio and TV show.
"He was one of the few guys at Warners who had any juice back then,"
Also on the disc is singing satirist Kacey Jones who emerged in 1988 with
Ethel & The Shameless Hussies before producing the Kinky Friedman
tribute disc Pearls In The Snow and making four solo albums.
She had an huge European hit on a duet with Delbert McClinton on You're
The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly - a sixties chart topper for the late Conway
Twitty and Loretta Lynn.
"I was introduced to Kacey by Smoky Robinson, of all people, at LA
Airport a long time ago when me and Kacey were getting to go on same plane,"
Welch had his songs recorded by artists diverse as Gary Allan, The Judds,
Ricky Skaggs, Trisha Yearwood and the late Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller
and Conway Twitty.
AND CHRIS LEDOUX
Brooks rewrote Pushin' Up Daisies as a tribute to his late mother, country
singer Colleen Carroll, for his latest album Scarecrow.
"Garth was kind enough to call my publisher and ask him for songs,"
Welch said, "we sent him about 30 songs. Garth and producer Allen
Reynolds looked at over 5,000 songs. It's unique for me to allow lyric
changes but I thought his motive was really clean. The song had a new
function at that point. I also thought he did a good job."
The title track of Welch's previous album Millionaire was written to his
But it was equally relevant to Wyoming reared rodeo rider-singer Chris
LeDoux - a 35 album veteran, now celebrating a successful liver transplant
at the age of 54.
"I don't really know Chris but from what I do know I'll like the
guy if I get a chance to meet him," says Welch, "I like his
version of Millionaire. It's also ironic that Garth offered to give Chris
a chunk of his liver when he became ill."
had nightmare about two mentors who died early last year.
But the writer has vastly different reasons for dreaming of serial hit
writers and marriage recidivists Waylon Jennings and Harlan Howard.
The singing record company owner was about to produce the new Jennings
album for his Dead Reckoning label when the Highwayman died from diabetes.
Jennings gave Welch his break when he recorded his songs, written under
the tutelage of Howard.
"Harlan took me under his wing when I arrived in Nashville in 1978,
he taught me how to write," Welch revealed.
Howard, five times wed tunesmith with 4,000 plus recorded songs, died
at 74 on March 3, 2002.
It was less than a month after Jennings - whose fourth wife was Jessi
Colter (the former singing spouse of rock guitarist Duane Eddy) - died
aged 64 on February 13.
Jennings recorded 40 Howard songs including 1967 tribute album 'Waylon
Sings Ol' Harlan.'
"It was a classic situation," Welch said "I hadn't been
spending any time with Harlan for the past few years and had been feeling
guilty about it. He was a great guy for all of us to hang out together
with, real positive influence. He had these lunch time hangs where he
drank White Russians and we wrote. Harlan called these songs pencil sharpeners
and mailbox money."
arrived in Nashville he became a prolific writer with songs covered by
many artists becoming mailbox money.
That mailbox money - hits for acts diverse as Jennings, Roger Miller,
Gary Allan, Ricky Skaggs, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks
- financed his record company Dead Reckoning.
One was 'Lady In Lubbock,' an embryonic song, had the same West Texas
locale as 'Hello I'm Gone' from his self titled 1990 Warner debut disc.
But Welch earned more when Georgian born superstar Trisha Yearwood cut
Hello I'm Gone on her seventh album, Everybody Knows.
"I have a history of trouble in Lubbock," Welch revealed of
the hometown of Buddy Holly, Natalie Maines, Butch Hancock and Mac Davis.
His oft-recorded 'True Love Never Dies' was cut by the Del McCoury band
who backed Steve Earle on his bluegrass album The Mountain.
"The coolest cut was by Del, a stone bluegrass version," says
Welch who also liked Ruby Lovett's recent version, "it made the hair
stand up on my arms."
Welch is renowned for his Kerouacesque road reflections first exposed
on his self-titled debut disc - The Mother Road, Long Way Home and I Am
His two Warner Bros discs in 1990 and 1992 have been re-released by Dead
Welch also released Life Down Here On Earth (1995) and Beneath My Wheels
(1999) and Dead Reckoning family disc 'A Night Of Reckoning' (1997).
Kevin and Dead Reckoning partner Kieran Kane cut their live album at the
Continental Café, Prahran, on their debut tour in November 1999.
Welch's narratives have long explored the cutting edge of country - a
vein mined deep in history from the Appalachian murder ballad era.
days I keep a watch out for the gun/ all because the jury was hung/ the
jury foreman he just smiled/ the killer tap danced down the aisle/ these
days I keep a watch out for the gun." 'Witness' - Kevin Welch.
'Witness' - based on frailties of the Witness Relocation Program - could
have been a plot from a crime novel by the James - Ellroy, Burke or Crumley.
"It was based on stories I heard on people who had gone into the
program and what happened to them afterwards," Welch said, "they
got let loose and some times they screw up and let their real name slip.
I'm getting more interested in writing story songs - I haven't written
An exception is 'When The Sun Shines Down On Me' penned with Mark Germino
- writer of mainstream radio parody 'Rex Bob Lowenstein.'
"Germino came over to my house about 10 years ago and said 'Kevin,
I want to write a song with you and about you," Welch recalled, "he
showed me song he had already written and he had some of the facts wrong.
The song just sat for all these years. The time got right for me to sing
it, he's one of the greats. I'm real proud to have a song with him"
Welch's tune, Crying For Nothing, from the Dead Reckoners' 'Night Of Reckoning'
was on Smoke Rings In The Dark - third album by chart topping Californian
country singer Gary Allan who has also toured here several times.
It's a far
cry from those embryonic Nashville days when Welch bloomed under the tutelage
of old Harlan.
The duo clicked like clockwork with a familiar chime solved by a studio
"We wrote this song 'The Mill Closed Down' and Tommy Cash decided
to record it so Harlan took me to the session," Welch revealed on
a previous tour.
"He said 'son, we'll see how it's done.' Half way through the first
take the producer Fred Foster turned around and said to Harlan 'hickory
dickory dock.' We looked at each other and realised we had stolen the
melody from 'Hickory, Dickory, Dock."
Welch wrote other songs - including 'Watch My Lips, Read My Eyes' - with
But this time it's The Flood who are flowing down under with Welch.
Welch and The Flood play Basement Discs in the CBD at 12.45 p m and Corner
Hotel, Richmond on Friday October 31.
They play the Geelong Performing Arts Centre on Saturday November 1.
And on Sunday November 2 it's the Loxley Vineyard, via Kyneton during
the afternoon and Jimi's @ Milano's, Brighton Beach at night and a Cup
Eve show at the Clifton Hill Hotel, on Monday November 3.
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