Silver White Love Affair

‘Silver White Love Affair’ was written about Ken’s Aunt and Uncle. Ken started writing the song after a trip he took to Connecticut when his Aunt and Uncle were visiting the area. Ken has always loved them dearly and all through his childhood years, his Aunt and Uncle served as another set of parents to him. Visiting with them later in life, Ken always learned more and more about his ancestors and especially his father. (Ken’s Uncle and father were brothers – Ken’s father passed away in 2003.)

“There was a picture I took of them in Connecticut. It showed the love in each other’s eyes and it was hard to believe they have been together so long”.

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Ken wanted to write a waltz after being inspired by a friend, Ryan Scarberry. Ken tried and tried until he was able to get all his inspiration from this single picture. He also referenced moments throughout his life that pertained to his Aunt and Uncle.

Finally, after an inspiration that came to him on June 8th, 2014, Ken was able to make his final changes and recorded the song in the morning right after breakfast.

“I think there was a God inspiration for this song this morning”. Not too long after Ken emailed the song to his Uncle, he got up to get ready for his afternoon events. His Uncle called him on the phone, but it went to voice-mail. When Ken noticed there was a call, a quietness came over him with his Uncle’s message. It left his Uncle at a loss of words. Ken saved the voice-mail…and it will be a part of this song’s history.

“On my way out of the house, I was able to call them from the car. We chatted for a little bit and told them how much they have meant to me over the years. It was a real nice conversation”.

On October 2, 2014, John and Arline will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary. John is 88 and Arline is 85 years old.

-Admin

Home And All Alone

This song was written in about 2 hours during a time when Ken was in a homesick and lonely mood.

The verses were the easiest part…the chorus was a little more challenging. Ken started to remember his time in Palm Beach, Florida when he owned that computer store and did work for many very wealthy customers. This one couple (Keith and Gerri) lived in Palm Beach and were married for 42 years. Gerri had a little bit of a drinking problem and Keith finally just got tied of all the nonsense. He filed for divorce and they went their separate ways. Some of the crazy things Gerri would do was throw a glass of scotch at the wall…and one time she even fired a gun in the house to get Keith’s attention. It is kind of sad that things escalated that far with the two of them. They had a few children which were all grown up now, and many times Gerri would just be left ‘home and all alone’. I am glad I got to know the two of them during my life in Florida…they were once a really nice couple.

Ken got the idea for the chorus and a few pieces of the verses from events that took place between Keith and Gerri. They were multi millionaires and had many homes around the country. Keith was always away on business (not really sure what he did for a living) and Gerri would just stay in the Palm Beach Mansion. She had friends she would meet at the Palm Beach Country Club for lunch and go shopping on Worth Avenue. Her favorite place…Tiffanys. Gerri was very generous with her payments and normally rounded everything to the nearest hundred when settling up her invoice.

So the song goes…as a tribute to Keith and Gerri from New York and Palm Beach. :)

Life Doesn’t Stop There Anymore

This song used to be called ‘I Don’t Recognize This World I’m In’. During my Nashville Song Camp, Steve Leslie did a little critiquing. He said it sounded like an old Merle Haggard song…but never got to the good part.

When he heard the words ‘Life don’t stop there no more’, he had to stop and comment. He had never really heard that type of description in a song before. He also heard the part about the little white farmhouse just east of the tracks…and told me this song wanted to go somewhere else than how I wrote out the story. He suggested that I change the title of the song to ‘Life Doesn’t Stop There Anymore’ and use the near rhymes with that ‘OR’ sound to tell my story.

I envisioned an old farmhouse just east of the railroad tracks. Something that is now all worn out, chipped, and with a big front porch. I imagined sitting on that porch in a rocking chair listening to my Grandmother’s stories from my childhood. I also imagined how my Mom would wave goodbye when I had to leave every time I would go to her house to visit. Most of the time, I lived far away and only got to visit with her every few years. When it was time to go home, she would start to cry…then make me cry…as we said our goodbyes. I also remember thinking this may be the last time I ever see her again. Those memories were in the original version of this song, but it made it sound too sad…and almost as if she passed away. Well, she hasn’t…my Mom is in good health and very active.

I eventually changed the song to reflect how she used to sing when I was a kid. She didn’t sing from the front porch, but many times we would all sing along and even harmonize to her singing. I just loved the word ‘harmonize’, so I made sure it fit into the song.

Steve Leslie basically wrote the chorus of this song. When he critiqued it during one of the breakdown sessions in Nashville, he gave me this:

THE YEARS JUST ROLL BY LIKE AN OLD _____ TRAIN
WELL __________ I WON’T EVER SEE AGAIN
__________________ I’LL BE BACK
____________________ ON THOSE TRACKS
BUT LIFE DOESN’T STOP THERE ANYMORE

After he kind of sang this chorus…my mind started going wild. (the blanks he just sang as ‘dada-da-da-da’). The chorus I finally came up with was a little from the original song and the rest of his suggestions.

YEARS KEEP ROLLING BY LIKE THE SOUND OF THAT OLE TRAIN
DAYS OF UNLOCKED DOORS I WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN
LOOKING AT THOSE TRACKS WELL IT ALWAYS TAKES ME BACK
TO ROCKING WITH GRANDMA ON THAT PORCH
AND LISTENING TO HER STORIES LIKE BEFORE
YEAH LIFE DOESN’T STOP THERE ANYMORE

I have yet to send a somewhat finished version back to Steve Leslie yet, but when I do, I will offer him a co-write on this song…and hopes that he will say yes.

Watching Time Go By – By Ken Menard

This song was kind of a re-write of an older song. Once I got back from Nashville, I wanted to apply some of the things I learned to older songs to make them better. Re-writing a song that was ‘not-so-good’ into a great song is not an easy thing. By trying, I came out with a totally new song all together.

This song was inspired about an old mirror that has been in our family a long time. If one could somehow play back all the things a mirror must have seen over the years, it would be a wonderful memory of the past. I tried to capture that and put it in a song. I also wanted to use some of those different chord progressions that I learned from the Nashville instructor Steve Leslie. I have many songs that use the ‘BM’ chord…but Steve Leslie would also invoke an ‘F#’ to give it a little unexpected contrast. When I was writing this song, I purposely did the same chord progressions Steve Leslie would have used.

This is also the very first song I have ever written that has a ‘Bridge’ after the chorus. A bridge is a contrasted partial verse or highlight to get across more information in a short time. It usually off-sets the song when it is sounding too ‘blah’. This bridge was actually a verse in the first writings.

Some say this song is a little creepy…but I think it is very common for people to kind of fear a mirror and everything it must have seen over the years.

Nashville Song Camp

July 24th – July 29th of this year was a special time. I signed up for NSAI’s Song Camp (Nashville Songwriters Association, Inc) where I would be in the midst of many very popular song writers for some of the best Country Songs. They would be the instructors for the week, teaching a class of things that they have experienced over the years.

The instructors were Rick Beresford, Ralph Murphy, Angela Kaset, James Dean Hicks, Don Henry, Jason Blume, Steve Leslie, and Liz Hengber.

Attending every event, I was most taken back by only two people…Steve Leslie and Don Henry.

Steve Leslie (www.steveleslie.com) has a type of old country in his soul and best describes every facet of life in his songs. He paints a perfect picture that you can envision and puts it to music unlike what you would normally hear. It is kind of that Blues thing meeting Country. He uses some great chords in his songs that would normally be unexpected which makes you want to hear it again. In my talks with Steve Leslie, I found him to be a huge inspiration for my music.

Don Henry (www.donhenry.com) has a type of old country too, but it can also be redone for new country. A good example of this would be his song “All Kinds Of Kinds” that Miranda Lambert has recorded. Don’s version is not like Miranda’s version…but it works well. Don Henry is also famous for Kathy Matteas song “Where Have You Been”. He gave the whole story of how the song came to be and wrote it with Kathy Matteas husband about his grand-parents. It is a touching story and when you hear him tell it, you get all choked up inside.

While in Nashville, I had the pleasure to be with my previous girlfriend Lisa. (now current girlfriend again after 24 years). We drove around to where Larry Lee used to have his offices on Music Row. I hired Larry Lee back in the 90′s to represent me as a Song Plugger to the various artists at that time. Larry passed away in 2001. Just seeing Larry Lee’s old offices and the BMI building were such an inspiration to me. It kept me in the right frame of mind to make this songwriting thing work this time. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I would have the time of my life trying.

There are so many stories from that week…that I cannot possibly write all of them down here. In future posts, I may make reference back to this week and tell a little more.

May 9, 2013

May 9th will always be a special day for me. Back in 1989, it is when Country Music lost Keith Whitley around 9:00-9:30 AM. He had just talked to his mother around 8:30AM and was going golfing with his brother; who was going to pick him up around 10:00 AM. That is about all we know of that tragic morning. Keith was found face down lying on his bed, fully clothed with the equivalent of 20 shots of Whiskey in his system. My life changed forever that day.

Last night, I listened to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time on my smartphone. Larry Gatlin was the host and several others played before my favorite Country Female Singer took the stage. I was able to see a video posting she tweeted with her, her son Jesse, Jesse’s wife, and Lorrie current husband all in the car on their way to the Opry. Another picture was posted of Jesse holding a pair of cowboy boots. I later found out that they were his father’s boots; which I expected Jesse to wear. For whatever reason, I caught a picture of Jesse on stage with the empty boots standing beside him…as to say, this is where his father was standing, watching from above.

Lorrie came on stage around 9:45 PM EST. She sang ‘Candy Kisses’ and eventually introduced her son Jesse Keith Whitley. Jesse must have been nervous, but didn’t show any signs. He sung his father’s classic “Don’t Close Your Eyes’. As he sung this song, my floodgates of tears started to fall. It brought me back to a point in time when we lost Keith on that tragic morning 24 years ago. Lorrie mentioned that Keith Whitley was 3 weeks away from being inducted into the Opry, but he never knew about it. I think Jesse did a great job and I am sure his mother, (Lorrie), was very proud of him.

Jesse is now married to Ashlee Hewitt, who was a backup singer for Lorrie Morgan. Jesse dedicated the song to his new son Jackie Keith Whitley, II. (His father’s real name).

In the previous article, Lorrie mentions the following about Country Music:
“It’s gotten really very technical,” she says when I ask her how the business has changed. “Years ago, when I first fell in love with country music, part of the reason was that it was so much from the heart. It was so simple, lyrically, everything. It was just the simplicity. Every seven to ten years, this business has gone through a severe change. And now, it’s a little bit hard because to me it’s kind of gotten away from the heart, if that makes sense. It’s more technology. And the music business has really become more of a business than what it was originally meant to be. I think a lot of us, we’re kind of trying to go with the flow and trying to do what we’re supposed to do to get on radio, and blah, blah, blah. But you know, I certainly hope that the next seven to ten years brings back the simpler side of country music.”

For now, Morgan sounds unwilling to make the necessary concessions to adapt to the new country landscape. “I’m not willing to sacrifice what I’ve learned and what I’m about just to get played on radio,” she says. “And that’s probably been a big downfall for me, and a big argument with me and my record label through the past few years. I just can’t go in and record stuff just to get on radio. I can’t do it. I think there’s the element of the heart and the simplicity that’s missing in country music, what turned everybody on to it in the beginning. And it’s gotten really far away from that. And I know for a lot of us, it’s scary.

To me, she gets it. This is exactly how I feel about today’s modern day Country Music. There are so many songs being played that have no business being on the radio, disguised as Country Music. I really do not care for the modern day stuff…which is sad because I have yet to break into the Country Music Industry. If I have to play by those rules, I don’t think I will ever make it as a Country Music Songwriter / Singer.

…more to come soon.

Lorrie Morgan (February 15, 2000; Written by Chris Dickinson)

With musical roots that stretch back to her idols Loretta Lynn and the late Tammy Wynette, Lorrie Morgan remains one of the most gifted and resilient figures in contemporary country. In a wide-ranging interview with Journal of Country Music editor Chris Dickinson, Morgan speaks with candor, humor, and a resolve born of tragedy and triumph, proving she is indeed a woman who has come to know her own strength. The complete version of this article is available in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Country Music, available on newsstands in mid-March or by subscription.

It is the fall afternoon after the CMA awards, here at the governor’s mansion in Nashville. On the patio, beneath a tent, there is a luncheon to honor the new Country Music Hall of Fame inductees: Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, and Johnny Bond. In the small crowd spread out across the patio, the current living Hall of Famers mingle: Little Jimmy Dickens, Earl Scruggs, Roy Horton, Bud Wendell, Brenda Lee, and Jo Walker-Meador. Their medallions are strung around their necks like badges of endurance.

The gifted songwriter Cindy Walker sits at a table among friends. The woman who penned such classic country songs as “Cherokee Maiden” and “You Don’t Know Me” is smartly turned out in her fall colors, obliging a classic custom from another time by wearing dress gloves on her fragile hands. Her own Hall of Fame medal — nestled like a big locket in the scarf around her neck — looks to weigh more than all her delicate features combined. Walker is still striking, the epitome of what the greatest generation would call a great beauty of her day.

I ache for a cigarette and finally locate the de facto smoking lounge: three women firing up out on the edge of the manicured stretch of lawn. Among them I spot one of the great beauties of my day. I walk toward her and light up, secure in the knowledge that not even the governor of the state of Tennessee will tell Lorrie Morgan to snuff out her butt.

Morgan is here to represent her late father, the Hall of Famer George Morgan. We have never met before, but a cigarette habit is all you need to gain entry into this tight group hugging the fringe of the party. She opens up the smoking clutch to me, introduces her friends. She is a petite woman in a tailored skirt-suit and high-heeled slingbacks, the sort of knock-out power outfit Nicole Sheridan used to wear on Knot’s Landing. Up close, Morgan’s platinum beauty is nothing less than stunning, her delicate bones so perfectly wrought it’s hard to tear your eyes from them.

But oddly enough her beauty is not what she leads with in person. She smokes and laughs her raspy laugh, gestures with her hands, bores down physically close to make an adamant point, jokes and lets fly with a few four-letter words. There is a warmth and immediacy to her, an agile mind and a palpable heart that have seldom been captured in the writing about her. She has often been portrayed in the press as something of an ice queen, an impenetrable beauty whose boyfriends get more ink than her unique voice. It’s a public image at odds with this open, nervy woman on the lawn.

In a town where both its Music Row and alternative music scenes have refined the art of empty social chit-chat, Lorrie Morgan emerges as that most singular of individuals: Intense in conversation, she is a woman who seems to have no time to waste on small talk. I mention a show of hers I had seen a few years before, in which she had included an unplugged segment. Sitting on a stool that night, a guitar in her lap and leaning quietly into the microphone, Morgan had brought the house down with spare interpretations of a number of classic country hits, among them a haunted, broken reading of “Apartment #9,” Tammy Wynette’s first single.

When I mention this to Morgan she seizes on it, the conversation no longer about her but instead about Tammy Wynette. She speaks of Tammy and her intensity deepens, her love of the late star a genuine thing. Morgan also speaks of the day she turned forty, the depression it originally caused and the empowerment in it that she has since found. She is candid, by turns wickedly funny and ardently serious, and seems to trust in the fact that twenty years in a hard business have taught her she can only be herself.

She can’t stay for the luncheon; her son has a game this afternoon that she must attend. She slips through the crowd, cutting a gleaming swath of star power among the subdued suits. For a woman who long ago accepted that there are no road maps in life, she has made her zig-zag path look like a seamless trajectory.

A few weeks later we talk by phone, and Lorrie Morgan is making fudge. Behind her raw, husky twang I hear the metallic clang of pots and pans. She apologizes in advance. “Soon as it starts losin’ its shine,” she says, “I’m gonna have to put you on hold and pour it.”

Morgan inhabits a strange space in country music: She stands with one foot in an earlier time, the other on the increasingly shaky ground of contemporary country. She was signed to RCA in 1989 by label honcho Joe Galante, and later switched to BNA, a separate label under the RCA Label Group. Ten weeks after this interview Morgan will leave her label home of ten years. Through a publicist, the parting will be described as an amicable one.

Although on this day she makes no specific mention of any plans to part with her label, her frustration with the music business drenches her words. As she makes fudge in her Tennessee kitchen and talks on the phone, neither does she mention her upcoming release, To Get to You, a second greatest hits collection that also contains five newly recorded tracks. As it will turn out, it will also be her last release for BNA.

With a singing career that stretches back to her early teen years, she has nearly three decades invested in the music business. She has been a bona fide mainstream star for the last ten. But somewhere along the way the rules of the game changed on her. Today’s commercial country is a land ruled by market research, and standing guard at the narrow entrance to country radio is the radio consultant. It is a world that Morgan no longer understands.

“It’s gotten really very technical,” she says when I ask her how the business has changed. “Years ago, when I first fell in love with country music, part of the reason was that it was so much from the heart. It was so simple, lyrically, everything. It was just the simplicity. Every seven to ten years, this business has gone through a severe change. And now, it’s a little bit hard because to me it’s kind of gotten away from the heart, if that makes sense. It’s more technology. And the music business has really become more of a business than what it was originally meant to be. I think a lot of us, we’re kind of trying to go with the flow and trying to do what we’re supposed to do to get on radio, and blah, blah, blah. But you know, I certainly hope that the next seven to ten years brings back the simpler side of country music.”

For now, Morgan sounds unwilling to make the necessary concessions to adapt to the new country landscape. “I’m not willing to sacrifice what I’ve learned and what I’m about just to get played on radio,” she says. “And that’s probably been a big downfall for me, and a big argument with me and my record label through the past few years. I just can’t go in and record stuff just to get on radio. I can’t do it. I think there’s the element of the heart and the simplicity that’s missing in country music, what turned everybody on to it in the beginning. And it’s gotten really far away from that. And I know for a lot of us, it’s scary.

“I hate to walk into a record label and them pull out a piece of paper and say, ‘Okay, here’s the statistics,’” she continues. “Oh, what’s that big word Joe [Galante] uses all the time — research. ‘Here’s our research statistics.’ And I’m like, ‘Who the hell is researchin’ this s—? Who are these people that you are trusting to research?’”

We talk about the state of radio today, the power of consultants and the cold call research where telemarketer-types play snips of songs over the phone to demographically correct listeners. On the subject of radio consultants and the narrow research they use to determine a song’s hit potential, Morgan is adamant in her feelings. “How can you call somebody on the phone at home when a woman’s cookin’ dinner for three or four kids, and say, ‘I’m with such-and-such radio station, can you give me eight seconds to tell me what you think of this song?’ I’m gonna say, ‘I hate the son-of-a-b—-, good-bye!’”

Beyond an industry besotted with demographics, Morgan sees no mystery in determining a song’s worth. For her, it has always been a simple and organic procedure. “Nine times out of ten a person’s gotta be riding in the car, by themselves, radio full-blast,” she says. “That’s when you find out if a song fits ya’ — if you can drive to it.”

Her voice gets quiet, almost pained. “What’s sad is all these people that I’ve looked up to for the last ten years, I’m seeing them be suckered into this paper business . . .” she says softly. The only research Morgan has to go on is what she’s seen and heard out there on the road for the last ten years. “That’s what the country artists have always had that they can’t get across to the label heads and to the radio programmers,” she says, intense again. “[The fans] are real people. They’re in my meet-and-greet every night. This is the lady who walks up to me and cries and says, ‘I just want to tell you thanks for putting out that song. I just want to tell you thanks for throwing my little girl a flower from the stage. I just want to say thanks.’ These are real people, real faces, that want to hear real music.” She pauses. “You can’t statistic through your whole life.”

I ask Morgan how she feels about her record label now, if that’s something she specifically wants to talk about. “Yeah, I better shut up on that particular . . . ” she says, momentarily drifting back. “Let me say this about that. I love Joe Galante. He gave me the shot in this business that no one else would give me. And I will always love Joe Galante. Always. Regardless of what comes tomorrow, a year from now, ten years from now. He, along with God, allowed me to make a lot of my dreams come true. And I’ll always love Joe Galante for that.”

She is far less diplomatic when it comes to an assessment of the state of today’s Top Forty. “It’s bubblegum,” she says about many of the songs on country radio today. “That ain’t what life’s about. Country music is therapy — it’s therapy for the rural world. And it’s gotten so far away from it that nobody knows what’s real anymore. You know, people aren’t what they appear to be in their pictures anymore. That concerns me, that we’re reaching out for perfection, when country music has always been about imperfection.”

Expressing the ups and downs of the imperfect life has always been Morgan’s strong suit. There is a dark grain to her voice, a fine, sandpaper edge that imbues her strong, clear pipes with a subtle grit. She is one of the most distinctive singers of contemporary country, a subtle interpreter who is at her best when explicating sorrows large and small.

Within her strongest cuts she has explored an adult view of things; at her best, she has chosen to record songs that capture the intrinsic confusion of the thing called love. While some of her oeuvre is riddled with stiff missteps — the brittle, forced bravado of “My Night to Howl” comes to mind — she has beneath her belt a passel of remarkable interpretations that stand as antidotes to the current glorification of gooey sentiment. In a current country radio world where emphasis is placed on the flimsy highs of romance, Morgan’s sharpest material addresses not the skyward trajectory of love but the skidding stop: the moonlit romance that withers in the glare of the morning after, the blunt realities of in sickness and in health, the exits taken long before ’til death us do part.

She is an oddity of sorts, a rarity in the business, an artist who is able to infuse a traditional country sensibility into even her most pop-leaning tunes. Morgan’s pop vernacular is a decidedly pre-rock one; she paid homage to it, in fact, with her 1998 release Secret Love, which included a batch of pop standards by the likes of George and Ira Gershwin and Jimmy Van Heusen. (“I wanted to do the ones that meant something in my life,” she says about the album. “From bein’ a little girl believin’ that romance really existed, pretending like I was Doris Day on the back of my horse singing ‘Secret Love.’”)

Her career song remains the Angela Kaset-penned “Something In Red,” where Morgan brought to bear a world-weary delivery against a lush setting, her voice alternating through the verses, lightening to convey fragile hope, darkening to reveal layers of regret and nostalgia. The lushly orchestrated 1991 hit did what few current country power ballads are capable of doing: It told an actual, imperfect story. Tracing a woman’s life through the colors of the outfits that she dons, the song was a haunting walk through the disintegration of a marriage: the desperate attempt to recapture initial passion (“I’m looking for something in red / Just like what I wore when I first turned his head”); the fear of infidelity; the death of romance that accompanies monogamy and children; and the insecurity that comes with aging (“Strapless and sequined and cut down to there / Just a size larger than I wore last year”).

With “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” Morgan’s voice rose and fell through the wounded, wiser lyrics, the careening guitars and assertive drum whaps mirroring the sound of a knocked-down woman standing back up again. Against the weepy steel of “Good As I Was to You,” she nailed the disillusionment of another love gone bad. “I Guess You Had to Be There” chronicled a woman torn by her husband’s infidelity; Morgan avoided the maudlin for the bitter burn, bearing down into the syllables as she conveyed the death of a marriage in all its pain and humiliation.

It has been these songs, sprinkled throughout ’90s radio, that have emphasized the imperfect nature of love, the fact that no matter how hard you try to get it right, it so often goes wrong.

Lorrie Morgan has lived the imperfect life as well, often under the harsh scrutiny of the tabloids. She has been widowed once, divorced three times. She has survived a hysterectomy and financial difficulties. She has watched as her personal life has been dissected in the media, watched as every date and relationship has been bluntly reduced to a screaming, one-dimensional headline. Beneath her public life she has grappled with the private demands of being a working mother: Her daughter Morgan — by her first husband, George Jones’s bassist Ron Gaddis — is on the verge of being a college student. Her son, Jesse — by her second husband, the late Keith Whitley — is in seventh grade.

Born Loretta Lynn Morgan in Nashville (the full name was just a coincidence, a prescient tribute to the woman who would become one of her idols and mentors), Morgan was the fifth child of country star and Grand Ole Opry member George Morgan. She attended Catholic schools in Music City and grew up with a backstage view of show business. She made her own Opry debut at thirteen, an adolescent with knocking knees singing “Paper Roses” while her father bawled in the wings. That would all turn out to be the easy part.

She worked nightclubs in town and toured with her father while still in high school, but when George Morgan died in 1975, the teenager lost not just a dad but her most trusted advisor. She hit the road on a long series of lonely tour dates, trying to establish herself. She recorded, with minor success, for a number of labels: Columbia, ABC/Hickory, and MCA. In 1979, she even cut an electronic duet with her late father on his ballad “I’m Completely Satisfied with You” for the Four Star label.

As hard and uncertain as that time seemed, it paled in comparison to what came when she joined George Jones’ road show as a support act, back-up singer, and duet partner. If her father had given Morgan her first break, he had also shielded her from the ugly realities of the business. It was on the road with Jones that Morgan came to understand the dark side of fame.

“It was a very emotional time,” she says. “I was twenty, twenty-one years old, and got into a world that I’d never been involved with before. Yeah, I’d been in the music business all my life, Grand Ole Opry, workin’ with Dad. But this was a new kinda guy. This was something that was very . . . whew . . . scary to me as a young girl.”

It was the dawn of the 1980s, and that “new kinda guy” was then in the throes of brain-bending alcoholism and drug addiction. Although “No Show Jones” has long been flung around as a comic moniker, the grim reality that inspired George Jones’s nickname was no joke to those who experienced the repercussions firsthand. Jones would go missing in action, disappearing completely before shows, and Morgan and the band were left holding the bag. Standing in the turbulent wake of those missed dates, the green entertainer saw how quickly the spotlight can go black. She saw how a loving audience can transform into an ugly rabble.

“The reality of it was that it was scarier than hell,” she says. “Oh man, they threw bottles, tomatoes, apples — anything they could find when we had to announce that [George] wasn’t going to be there. One night they almost tipped the bus over. And you know, I thought, ‘Why would he put us through this? He must not care at all.’ Of course, [me] being young and naive . . . hell, he cared. He was dealin’ with his own damn demons, you know? Lookin’ back, he was just as scared as I am and everybody else is now. But he just kind of showed his fright in another way.”

Although she occasionally seems weary recounting her history one more time (“I started workin’ on Ralph [Emery's] morning show again, and then got back into Nashville Now, and you know, blah, blah, blah, and blah, blah, blah”), the George Jones tour still evokes genuine emotion twenty years on. “Whewwssh,” she breathes with a shuddering air. “That was a weird part of my life.”

But it was also part of the dues-paying that has made Morgan the real deal. Seeing the price of fame early on stripped away any illusions she had about what a life in music could really cost. “I love George,” she says quietly. “I wouldn’t trade those days for anything because it taught me a lot, and it definitely taught me what I didn’t want to have in my life. I can’t say that I’d go through it all again, not that particular part. But I’m glad that I did it.”

In the song “Between Midnight and Tomorrow,” Morgan’s voice captures the grief of a woman sitting up ’til dawn, watching her drunken lover sleep. What sets the song apart is that it doesn’t reduce the equation to a simplistic Good Women, Bad Choices scenario. Like Tammy Wynette in “Stand By Your Man,” or Patty Loveless in “Here I Am,” Morgan evokes the subtler issues involved with loving the sinner but hating the sin. The man Morgan sings about is an alcoholic, but underneath the disease is the actual man. The woman is grappling not with a one-dimensional monster but rather, as the playwright Eugene O’Neill once put it, a good man’s failing.

It has been a decade since the death of Morgan’s second husband, Keith Whitley. A Kentucky bluegrass prodigy who’d apprenticed with Ralph Stanley, Whitley was a rising hard-country singer and a binge alcoholic when he met Morgan in the mid-’80s. At the time, she was cutting demos and working as a receptionist at Acuff-Rose. Her own music career had yet to catch fire. They married and the union produced son Jesse. In 1989, just as Morgan’s breakthrough RCA hit, “Dear Me,” was rising on the charts, Whitley died of an alcohol overdose in their Nashville home while Morgan was touring Alaska.

His death came doubly hard; at thirty-three, Whitley’s bruised baritone was just coming into its own. In Garth Fundis he had finally found a producer sympathetic and sensitive enough to understand his hardcore, traditional heartbreak. It seemed, for a time, as if Whitley and Morgan might fill the spotlight vacated by George and Tammy. It was not to be.

Ten years on, Morgan still thinks of this good man, and his fatal failing. “I don’t think you ever quite get over losing somebody that special,” she says. “I wonder from time to time, where would we be now, what would we be doing. Would he be proud of Jesse? Would we be as happy as I always thought we were going to be? There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t think about Keith, ever. You never get over losing somebody who was — hell — the love of your life.”

The tough part, she says, was the guilt beneath the grief that came in the wake of his death. “The ‘ifs’ are the big wonderment of being married to an alcoholic, or involved with anybody with a drug addiction,” she says. “‘If I’d a just done this, if I’d a just done that.’ You get in your mind that if you would have done something different it would have helped them, when the truth of the matter is they are the only ones who can help themselves, ever. I wish I would have gone to a few [Al-Anon] meetings just to help me deal with the aftershock, because it devastates a person who thinks that they were a part of it. ‘If I just wouldn’t have gone out of town, and I would have stayed, and Keith would be alive today, and . . .’ For a long time, I lived with that thinking. And that’s not the case. It would have happened the next time, or the next time, or the time after that. You can’t stop a person who’s on the road to destruction, because they have to say ‘I don’t want to self-destruct. I want to get better.’”

The subject of Tammy Wynette resurfaces several times as Morgan speaks. “Tammy,” she says emphatically. “Man, you talk about a lady who had her knocks with love and life. That’s the kind of person I can relate to. That’s the kind of person I want to sit back and listen to, because that’s the inspiration.” It’s no accident that the standout track on her new release To Get to You is “Another Lonely Song,” the 1973 Tammy hit that Wynette co-wrote with legendary countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill and songwriting powerhouse Norro Wilson. Morgan’s decision to cover the song lured the reclusive Sherrill back into the studio to produce the track.

The song is a classic, Wynette-ian epic of longing and heartbreak. When Morgan speaks of it, her voice intensifies as she remembers a time when Tammy’s voice would come over the radio, throbbing with complex pain, acting as therapy for the rural world. “It’s like going in and sitting down to a therapist,” she says. “You go in and sit down to a therapist and he helps you by his words, you feel better. So you turn on a radio and you listen to Tammy sing, ‘Time won’t heal my memory / God, it’s killin’ me.’”

Morgan stops. “Hold on a minute.” I hear her whispering the words to herself, searching for the rest of the lyric. She finds it and recites the rest, her voice bearing down on each word: “Lord how I need him here / Just to feel him near and hear him breathin’ / But still the night goes on and on / Another lonely song I’m singin’.” She pauses, pondering the words. “God-dang!” she cries. “That’s what I’d rather turn on!

“You knew she went through it,” she says about Wynette. “And that’s what my music has always meant to me, to be able to go in and sing a song that Jane next door with five kids is dealin’ with. Because if I’m dealin’ with it, I know she’s gotta be dealin’ with it. I know she does. She’s a woman.” Morgan pauses. “And all women go through the same crap.”

I ask her if she has devised a way to let the things go that would have bothered her when she was younger. She is quick and adamant. “Media,” she says bluntly. “Media. The rag mags. What the Globe, what the Enquirer have to print. I let it go. I don’t care anymore. And my children are old enough, and they’ve been conditioned by me very well. I’ve always been very open and honest with ‘em about what I’m doing, what my life’s about, who I’m seein’. So they know when they read this stuff that it’s just bulls—. And that was always my big concern — what are my children gonna think when they read this? They know not to believe what they read, unless I tell ‘em to believe it.

“These are heartless people that write that crap,” she continues, regarding the tabloid reporters who have dogged her in life. “And they don’t deserve my thoughts or my time. Or my despair. It took me a long time to realize that. That they don’t deserve not even an inkling of thought. I shall think on them no more.”

A few weeks later I sit transcribing the interview tapes late into the night. I listen in that odd way you listen when you hear your own voice rambling, rising, falling, stumbling, reaching for the right word, picking up steam. I listen to myself eating up a minute of tape time, rambling on about the state of radio, the state of music, the state of America. I hear myself wrap up a long, digressive diatribe with the crescendo, “We’re going to hell in this culture.”

I hear Lorrie Morgan respond, “That’s exactly right.” I smile at her patience with me. I hear a pause, the clang of a pan. “I’m going to hell with this fudge, I’m gonna tell you that,” she says. I wish her well with her fudge, and Morgan laughs her smoky laugh. “Oh, I gotta start all over,” says the woman who is no stranger to beginning again, the woman who long ago embraced the importance of the journey over the destination.

Chris Dickinson is on staff at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where she is the editor of the Journal of Country Music.

April Update

I have been very bad about my posts here. I am going to try and do more…at least once a month. Since my last post, so much has happened. I guess the most important things were the release of my single CD on iTunes (I SURVIVE) and the formation of my little band (well kind of).

The person who runs the Open Mic Nights at Pucketts Farm Equipment in Charlotte (Derita) every Monday night at 7:00PM; has been not only teaching me more about the guitar, but has become the coordinator of our practice groups. His name is Al Lemmond who already has a band (3 Piece Bucket). He found Larry Gray and Cindy Garris. It seems that everyone plays guitar…but for now, it is fine. Eventually, I would like to find some others who play a different instrument.

After practice, I bring the recordings home and add my piano playing abilities to the songs. So far, they sound good, but no one in the group ever gets to hear the full sound. On my ReverbNation site, I have put up two practice songs (PRINTED IN BLACK AND WHITE) and (I DON’T RECOGNIZE THIS WORLD I’M IN) with the piano added. I desperately need to find someone who plays the drums and bass guitar.

I also joined NSAI (NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS ASSOCIATION INC). We currently meet once a month and this July, I will be attending a summer camp in Nashville. Hopefully, I will be able to have a good quality recording of my PRINTED IN BLACK AND WHITE song on CD to pass out. It is very important that I get this done in time. Although my budget for doing so is not very good, I was hoping to get a recording done without getting into a studio.

I am still working for the Chevrolet Dealership in Charlotte, NC. Although things are not going as I would like, I am sticking around until something better comes along. At least it is a paycheck where I can put in an honest day’s work to support myself.

I have been improving my yodeling techniques and started writing a song where I can do a little yodel. When I was a child, my mother (who also yodels) used to play the song CATTLE CALL by EDDY ARNOLD. Also, Leann Rimes did that remake ‘BLUE’ made famous by Patsy Cline. I have started a song (not yet completed) that puts in a yodel very similar to both of those songs.

I have been researching some older songs that I would like to sing, and tonight I will get to try them out with the group. John Denver’s song BACK HOME AGAIN has been playing over and over in my car whenever I drive to or from work. I wanted to really get to know the song before I try to sing it at an Open Mic. Of course like most of you, I first heard this song when John Denver sang it on the radio. I have always liked some of John Denver’s songs…and recently heard it from the Avett Brothers on You Tube. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStdY-4Am8&feature=youtu.be&a). I decided (after singing it like 100 or so times) that I would like to add this to my list of songs to perform.

So for now, I will continue to do what I can to further my music quest. I am also learning a song from MO PITNEY who has become my most recent favorite singer in Nashville. Look for more coming from this guy in the next few months. Rumor is that Keith Whitley’s son JESSE contacted him about doing a number together. Only good things can come from that…and the way MO PITNEY does Keith’s song MIAMI MY AMY, sends a chill down my spine.

More coming soon…until then, be safe and God speed.

Music CD Update

It has been a while since my last post.

As some of you may know, I have been working on a new CD that was supposed to be released on July 4th, 2012. Due to some complications, it has been delayed. The new release date has been set for October 31, 2012. It will be available in regular CD Format and through iTunes.

Part of the problem was the recording of three songs…(I Won’t Give It Another Try, Printed In Black And White, and Understanding You. or as some like to call it…Breakdown). I have not finalized a name on that last song, but my original intent was Understanding You.

I have done several version of these songs and have not been totally ‘thrilled’ with any of them. The last one ‘Understanding You’ is basically there now…I have been feeling better about that song and I think I will keep this latest edition of how it is played. As far as the other two songs, I have tried them very country sounding, pop sounding, and classic folk sounding. Still have not decided which style to go with.

Basically all the other songs have been completed. I have the final tracks completed on the following songs: I may re-record ‘You Don’t Love Me’ one more time before release.
I Survive
Moment In Time
A Loved One
Starting Over
I’m Falling In Love
The Mirror
You Don’t Love Me

That is about it here…if you find yourself in the Charlotte area, stop by and heard me play at Harvey’s Bar & Grill every Monday night. I usually go on around 9:00 PM.

NEW CD UPDATE…

Due to my inability to get all the final tracks completed by my deadline, iTunes has informed me that I will need to wait another cycle. That means, once I upload the final tracks, I will need to wait another two weeks before I will see them on iTunes. At least this gives me the entire month of July 2012 to finalize everything.

When everything has been finalized, this is what the back of the CD will look like and the song order.

I apologize to everyone for the delays with this CD, but I guess it hasn’t been as easy as I previously thought.

May 2012 Comes To An End

Had a great time while in Connecticut & Rhode Island celebrating my 46th birthday on May 18th. Thanks to everyone who participated in making my trip great.

I also caught a pretty nasty cold the 2nd day I arrived. I was not able to get any recording in while I was up there…I just couldn’t sing. My voice was pretty bad.

I visited with friends, stayed with my folks and siblings, and went on the Newport Dinner Train with my ex-fiance Lisa who I have not seen in over 22 years. Needless to say we had a lot of catching up to do…but we picked it right up where we left it so long ago.

By Sunday night, (May 20th), I was ready to go home…my cold was getting worse and the DayQuil I was taking was no longer doing any good. I stopped into my favorite hotel (Marriott at the end of West Street in Rocky Hill, CT) and got a great night’s sleep before departing the next morning. (Their beds are incredible!)

The 13 hour drive back to Charlotte was bad enough – me being sick and all…but it rained the entire way. A few times I looked up at the sky and said to God…”really…it needs to rain non-stop today?”

I arrived back home around 10:30 PM Monday night the 21st of May. Took some cold medicine and went right to bed. Slept pretty late the next morning, then eventually ventured out to do a few errands.

Finally went to the doctor on Thursday, the 24th. They ran a bunch of tests…even went to the hospital for more tests and X-Rays. They wanted to keep me overnight. It seems I have developed a very bad case of walking pneumonia which was boarding on regular pneumonia. It was also determined that there is something in my lung but it could be just really inflamed. They want to see me again next week to see if it goes away after I finish the 7 medications they gave me to take. I blame it on my visit to Connecticut because I rarely ever get sick.

Friday turned into a vomiting haven…I could no longer keep any food down and I was feeling worse. Back to the doctor’s I went with a whole new set of medication to take. Seems something the doctor gave me did not agree with my body and was making my sicker. After several more days of resting, sleeping, and taking medicines, I was finally getting better.

Although I still cannot sing right now, I have been improving a little every day. I still need to cut a few more tracks for the release of my new Album on June 15th titled “Starting Over”.

Look for it on iTunes starting June 15th, 2012.

-Ken Menard

Ken Plays w/3 Piece Bucket Band

On March 19, 2012, Ken played at Harvey’s Bar and Grill in Huntersville, NC like he does every Monday night. This particular evening was different…two of his songs were being recorded with the 3 Piece Bucket Band playing along. Although they only had 2 hours to learn this song over the course of two days, they did a pretty good job.

Ken’s first posting seemed to be cut off when he posted it on ReverbNation. He contacted Louis (the recording genius of the group) and was sent the raw unedited MP3. It is now re-posted on ReverbNation in it’s original form. http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/12658108

“…Recorded a new version of my song ‘I Won’t Give It Another Try’ last night at Harvey’s. The 3 Piece Bucket Band played with me, so we had a bass player, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and drums…and Jeff and Al sang harmony. I can’t wait to hear the recording which should be out soon. We had several people in the audience singing along. Lot’s of great talent last night at Harvey’s Bar & Grill.”

This was the first time this song was played with a band in public, so it was pretty exciting for Ken. Ken hired Larry Lee from Nashville in October 1989 to help promote his songs. Many people including Gene Watson, Billy Joe Royal, Joe Diffee, Vince Gill, Doug Stone, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, George Strait, George Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Oakridge Boys, Mark Chestnut, and Garth Brooks have all had exposure to Ken’s songs. This song was not been written until sometime late in 1990-91. Gene Watson once showed interest in this particular song, but wanted a better recording with a full band.

Join Ken on Monday nights at Harvey’s Bar & Grill located at 13812 Cinnabar Pl, Huntersville, NC.
704-947-5080

-Admin

Facebook’s New Look Is Yucky !!!

Many people have now commented about how much they dislike Facebook’s new look.

We are going to start posting our comments on this blog instead of Facebook until they re-redesign the site. If they do not, then we might just stop using the site to promote the songs all together.

On Monday night, March 19, 2012, Ken and the band 3 Piece Bucket played Ken’s song “I Won’t Give It Another Try” in public. Al Lemmond and Ken have been toying with the sound of the song for a while, and with a little practice and playing different parts, this was the result.

You can listen to the live version recorded at Harvey’s Bar & Grill on our ReverbNation site.
http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/12646671

This Monday, we will be trying the song again and hope to get a better recording to post online. If you are in the Charlotte area, stop by Harvey’s Bar & Grill to hear us perform.
http://www.reverbnation.com/venue/harveysinhuntersville

Harvey’s Bar & Grill
13812 Cinnabar Pl, Huntersville, NC
704-947-5080

Songs On ReverbNation

Last week, Ken, (an active member of BMI), decided to record some of his favorite songs (not written by him) and post them on ReverbNation. http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_songs/2015319

You can hear the calmness in Ken’s voice as he sings the old Keith Whitley songs “A Day In The Life Of A Fool”, “Would These Arms Be In Your Way”, and “Charlotte’s In North Carolina”. Ken has always been inspired by Keith Whitley and recently sent a message to Keith’s son Jesse concerning these songs.

Ken also does some other songs by Anne Murray, Vern Gosdin, Rod Stewart, The Judds, Hank Williams, Linda Ronstadt, Gene Watson, The Monkees, Jackson Browne, and Kris Kristofferson.

Look for more songs to be posted in the near future.

-Admin

SONG: Printed In Black and White

Today, January 3, 2012, Ken wrote a new song. The idea came to him when flipping through a newspaper; he turned the page and saw all the wedding/engagement announcements. One of the photos showed a very pretty lady who was smiling, but if you looked real hard, she seemed angry at the same time. Ken thought it odd compared to all the other pictures in the paper. So, he decided to write a song about it.

Ken envisioned that she was getting back at her ex-boyfriend (or ex-husband) by putting a bad relationship behind her and getting married again. This song is from the perspective of the ex-boyfriend or (ex-husband) drinking his morning coffee and he just happens to turn the page and sees her picture in the paper after several years. He thinks back to the relationship and…well you’ll have to listen to the song.

Ken wrote this in a matter of hours…the words just seemed to come to him along with the melody. Click the song’s title below and give it a listen.

Printed in Black and White

-Admin

Happy New Year

Image

Happy New Year to all.

2011 was a year filled with a lot of turmoil and it is nice to see it go away. 2012 is going to be a year filled with happiness, good health, financial sound and stability, and exciting times.

May the New Year bring all your wishes and dreams to realization.

-Ken

Song: When I Think Of You

Ken remixed an old song of his today. Previously written sometime in 1994 and hidden from view for the past 15 years.

Ken had decided to go on vacation to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for a long weekend back in 1994. When he arrived on the beaches, he had a very inspiring moment come over him and he began writing. He sat on a wall outside someone’s house on a private beach and started writing in a little handheld notebook. He was inspired by all the sad looking old people that would walk by him. Some of them were alone…others with their wives/husbands. The all looked so lonely, so sad…and old.

The song could not be finished in one day. The next morning, Ken remembers having breakfast and went back to the beach he was writing the previous day. He was able to quickly finish the song and recorded it once he arrived back in Connecticut.

This song sat in the archive files for many years before Ken would take it out and re-record the song once again. Ken plays this song out at Harvey’s Bar & Grill in Huntersville, NC every now and then. You can also find a recording of this on ReverbNation at the website link below.

http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/11558048

-Admin

Merry Christmas

Christmas is the time for not only giving and being thankful, but for family. It is nice to spend quality time with the ones you love during the holidays.

There are so many things to be thankful for and many of us take them for granted. Just being healthy, having enough food to eat, a roof over your head, and surrounded by the ones you love is more than enough.

This year, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and safe holiday season.

-Ken

You Tube Videos

Ken now plays and sings two nights a week…one location in Huntersville and the other in Concord. He has been experimenting with recording videos and uploading them to You Tube.

On December 16th, 2011, Ken uploaded his first attempt for a You Tube video under the ID Name ‘Itsgr82bMax’. Ken used to have a dog called Max, so this is where the phrase, “It’s Great To Be Max” comes from.

Ken uploaded the old Buck Owens song, ‘Arms Full of Empty’ and his song ‘I Won’t Give it Another Try’ as a test. Both songs were in very poor quality due to the old camera he had to work with. He will redo these videos in the next week or so with a better camera he found in the garage. Hopefully it will produce a better quality than what is already out there. He will also figure out how to deal with his dark beard under his nose compared to his gray beard everywhere else! :)

Video # 1 – Arms Full of Empty – (http://youtu.be/5OH93OCYePw)
Video # 2 – I Won’t Give It Another Try – (http://youtu.be/bM8L5BgYza8)

Look to You Tube either by searching for ‘Ken Menard’ or by his ID Name ‘Itsgr82bMax’ for all future videos coming soon.

You can also find Ken’s You Tube videos on ReverbNation – (http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_videos/2015319) for your viewing pleasure.

-Admin

Charlotte Live Open Mic

This evening, Monday, December 5th, 2011, Ken played at Harvey’s Bar & Grill in Huntersville, NC. It seems that the crowd really enjoyed his music.

Ken played 7 songs: The first 5 were: ‘I Won’t Give It Another Try’, ‘I Survive’, ‘Learning To Live Again’, ‘Moment In Time’ and ‘Fourteen Carat Mind’. After the 5th song, the crowd was looking at Ken with anticipation of what the next song would be, so Ken played ‘Arms Full Of Empty, by Buck Owens’. After that song was finished, Ken was getting ready to wrap it up and had already unplugged his guitar from the speakers, when the crowd said…’Do One More’. Ken quickly thought of another song that he could do and came up with ‘Bad Bad Leroy Brown’ by Jim Croce.

The crowd seemed to really enjoy the music. Several people specifically came up to Ken and told him how good he was and asked if he would play again next week. One old guy with a beard came up to Ken and said that his song ‘I Survive’ really got to him. He was so moved he asked if Ken would do it again next week.

After a little time had passed…Ken was sitting down and several other people came up to him to say that he was really good and would he be back next week. Ken assured them he would return.

The guy that basically runs the place sat down with Ken and said that he really appreciated the songs and asked if he could return next week to do ‘Learning To Live Again’ along with ‘Fourteen Carat Mind’. Ken agreed and said he will also have a few new songs that would really show his voice off for the crowd.

So, it looks like Ken will be playing this venue every Monday night for a while. If you find yourself in Huntersville, NC anytime soon on a Monday night, stop by at Harvey’s Bar & Grill to hear Ken play around 8:00pm.

-Admin

Charlotte – Live Open Mic Performance

On December 5th, around 8:00PM, Ken will be playing his first live performance in 17 years at Harvey’s Bar & Grill in Huntersville, NC.

Last time he played publicly, it was in Collinsville, Connecticut at Gertrude & Alice’s Coffeehouse. Ken was living in Unionville at the time and decided to play there several times.

So if anyone is around the Lake Norman area and would like to hear him perform live, stop by and visit Harvey’s Bar & Grill at 13812 Cinnabar Place, just off I-77 in Huntersville, approaching Cornelius.

Sneak peak of songs will included Ken’s song ‘I Survive’, Garth Brooks’ song ‘Learning To Live Again’, Dwight Yoakam’s song ‘Ain’t That Lonely Yet’, and possibly some other original songs. Hope to see you there!

-Admin

http://www.harveysinhuntersville.com/

Song: Moment In Time

Released 11/24/2011, Ken wrote this song about change. What it is like when somebody leaves and the other person is left behind. Just about everyone had gone through this at one point in their life…hopefully this song has captured the feeling and sadness that it brings.

The song was supposed to just have a piano playing in the background, but when Ken started recording it on a digital piano/keyboard, he stumbled on a violin sound that the keyboard could make. He never did get the sound levels just right though, the violins are too loud. “The violins actually sound like they are crying…while the voice singing is telling them…it is going to be okay…it is just one moment in time and it will pass”.

Regardless of what is going on in a person’s life, a story can be told in the eyes. If you try to make each day just a little better by doing something different to get you over whatever stumbling block you are trying to overcome, before you know it, enough time will have passed and the stumbling block will be gone. “Keep your sadness under wrap…don’t allow it to take control”.

A simple drive down to the store, or to work, or spending it with others…make sure you put on a fake smile if you have to…don’t let your stumbling block win the battle. Before you know it…time will have passed and you will be out of the woods.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/momentintime.html

I Survive (aka: I Survived)

Ken has been working on a new song that will be make public on Friday, 11-11-11.

The song is titled ‘I Survived’ and speaks about being true to one’s self. It is a spiritual awakening that Ken has been going through for the past few months. Not a Buddha thing…nor a Christian thing…it is just becoming a little more spiritual aware.

Look for it to be released on Friday with words and music. (Ken’s not quite done with it yet)

-Admin

==========================================================================
This song is officially released on 11-11-11.

Ken wanted to write a song describing how it feels getting out of the ‘rat race’ and back to a normal life in the mountains.

The times of today seem so crazy…almost insane. Everyone is so hung up on their pride, they cannot be themselves. The economy is crap, our government is acting like children, and people are hurting financially. Ken writes how he has managed to overcome all that; not waiting for a miracle or praying that he would just die. (as the song goes)

The voice Ken speaks of is his inner voice (we all have one). The inner voice that has conversations with yourself. You know, when you ask yourself, “why did I do that?”, or something similar. Ken is saying that his inner voice no longer talks him into his old bad habits of craziness. He no longer has to ‘keep up with the Jones’.

Ken now watches other people and the strange things they do; completely aware of everything going on around him. Ken is at peace with himself and comfortable within his body…regardless if he is fat, short, balding, etc. He feels almost like he has been reborn with a clear mind…(no more drama).

Ken blends in with everyone else, but if you get a good look at his eyes, they still tell a very tired and worn out story. Ken fights his own demons and tries to keep them away from his day-to-day life. He presses forward…feeling relieved and relaxed, no longer feeling sad and unhappy of his situation.

So Ken survives. He breaks through that emotional prison that kept him from reaching his goals and spiritual achievements. He lives in the hills of North Carolina on the western side of the state. No longer waiting for a miracle to break the viscous cycle in Florida or a bad economy and mounting bills. At times Ken would pray that he would die…but now that has all turned around. Life goes on…and a better person comes out of the past teachings of life.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/survived.html

Song: Memories On My Mind

Memories On My Mind was originally written in 1989 when Ken stopped drinking for a while. He had just ruined a relationship due to his heavy drinking at the time and of course, things were said that could not be taken back.

Ken describes how in the most quiet times of his life, a beautiful memory would come into his mind about the good times of the relationship. Thinking of the good times always brightened Ken’s day and it is expressed in this song.

Memories On My Mind tells the story of time passing by after a break-up and thinking back on the times, it was not all bad…many good things come out of a relationship. Many thoughts of ‘could of, would of, should of’ for example.

When Ken remixed this song this morning, he decided to have some fun with it and put in some harmony in the background. It is supposed to be a memory song that is played over and over in your head. Kind of like dreaming of times gone past. That is how Ken thought up the ‘Oooooh and Aaaahhh’ background of the song.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/memoriesonmymind.html

New Music Mix: Jim Croce’s – I Have To Say I Love You In A Song

This morning, Ken mixed a real classic that he has been practicing very often. It is the 1973 hit I have to say I love you in a song. Ken had been learning the song for just over a month before he would attempt to even try to record his version.

Ken wrote to Ingrid Croce, the wife of Jim Croce out in California. He explained he wanted so much to learn Jim’s songs and could she suggest a video that would show Jim playing the song live. Ingrid responded that there were several DVD’s on the song and suggesting a few ‘learning videos’, she sent Ken a whole package of stuff.

Ken would spend hours trying to learn the song properly…and last night, finally decided to attempt the recording. “It went better than I thought. It only took me 9 tries to lay down a one track. Once the base track was down, the rest fell into place”.

I hope everyone listening enjoys Ken’s version of the song.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/ihavetosayiloveyouinasong.html

Song: The Mirror

Ken wrote this song sometime back in late 1983. It was written about a carpentry project Ken and his Grandfather Albert Benoit made in the basement of his Aunt Rita’s house in Pawtucket, RI.

Ken was always making little carpentry things with his Aunt Rita, so she thought it would be nice for Ken to make something with his Grandfather. The decision of a mirror was suggested by his Grandfather. When Ken’s Aunt Rita had remodeled her bathroom, she replaced the mirror and medicine cabinet that used to hang in the room. The medicine cabinet was a sliding mirror just under the main wall mounted mirror. It was from this original 1930′s mirror the carpentry project would be made.

Ken’s Grandfather, ‘Pepe Benoit’ thought it would be nice to make a colonial style frame and Ken’s Aunt Rita suggested an American Eagle to be placed in the center on the top. Pepe’ Benoit actually made the first and second cuts to the glass mirror and Ken, with his Pepe’s help, made the two remaining cuts.

Rita had some old pine shelves lying around, so Ken’s Pepe Benoit cut the pieces down into strips while Ken caught the wood as it came out of the other side of the table saw. Ken’s Pepe also thought wooden dowels would be a nice accent and told Ken where to drill the holes with the drill-press. Dowels were cut to length and glued into place. A grocery store brown paper bag was glued all the way around the back side of the mirror to ‘finish it off’. Ken Mother wrote on the back the date it was completed and it continues to be a high treasured item in the Benoit / Menard family.

After the entire carpentry project was completed in June 1980, Ken took very good care of the mirror and how it lasted 31 years is beyond belief. Although the wood has cracked in one spot, the mirror remains clear to this day.

Ken has said on several occasions that when he stares into the mirror he can ‘See People Of Yesterday’. The mirror shows times of great triumph and great sorrow throughout Ken’s life. Ken remembers in 1983 when he had been informed about his Grandfather’s death, it was hanging in his bedroom in Connecticut. As Ken looked into the mirror, he could see the reflection of the Autumn leaves on the trees outside as steady tears rolled from his eyes.

This song actually includes one of the first recordings played by Ken on his new Christmas present, an Applause 12-String guitar.

Ken has not remixed this song yet, but plans to do so in the next few weeks.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/themirror.html

Song: Daddy Dear

This song was written by Ken around 1993. It is about Ken’s father Gabriel Gilles Menard and how in 1979, Ken’s parents were legally divorced. Ken’s parents separated years before that, but Ken still remembers the moment in time when his Mother and Father had the talk about splitting up. Ken should have been in bed, but for some reason was in the next room listening to his parent’s every word.

Ken’s father lived in Hartford in an apartment at 82 Tremont Street for a while. On weekends, Ken would visit and his Father and he would go bowling, or watch a movie, or just play games / cards.

Several years later, Ken’s Father was taken to the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill, CT to be admitted. He had been living under the worst possible conditions in the dead of winter. For fear he would freeze to death, his five siblings and brother-in-law decided to get Gabe into the VA Home. Gabe lived there for the remainder of his life. Gabe passed away on September 23rd, 2003.

Ken always looked up to his Father; who never spanked him, hit him, or yelled at him. Gabe had such a gentle but firm way of showing his feelings when Ken did wrong. ‘If looks could speak’.

This song has not been remixed yet, but is in line to be completed soon.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/daddydear.html

Song: A Loved One

This song was written by Ken the Friday after the funeral of Ken’s dear Aunt Rita from Rhode Island. Rita was such a wonderful lady whom Ken was always eager to visit. Many times he would spend the summer with her and her husband. Rita was the sister of Ken’s mother Eva and the two of them visited pretty often.

The funeral really took it’s toll on Ken and there were several times he would break down crying so hard; his mother comforted him and just hugged him until he stopped sobbing.

When Ken was able to get up the words to describe how his Aunt Rita made an impact on his life, he began writing. On June 22nd, 1990, the song was finished within two hours.

Ken’s Aunt Rita steered him straight when he drifted away many times. Spending many summers in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, they would venture off to Jamestown and finally into Newport. It was one summer when Ken understood the phrase ‘off your rocker’ after saying this about his Uncle Bob. Bob really was off his rocker…and Ken wanted to sit in it before he got back. Rita misunderstood Ken and informed him what that phrase really meant. Of course it was not meant they way it came out, but looking back now, it must have been pretty funny for such a young kid to be saying such a thing. They probably laughed over it that evening after everyone went to bed. Things kids say.

Rita has a very distinctive laugh that could be heard in a crowd of people all talking. When she laughed, she made others laugh; making the happiness ‘so worth while’.

Although Ken has not remixed this song yet, it is coming soon. Ken wants to re-capture the same feeling he had when he wrote the song just over 21 years ago. The song is sung as a ballad and he always envisioned mostly piano music in the background with a soft slower beat.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/alovedone.html

Song: I Won’t Give It Another Try

This song was written by Ken back in the early 90′s. It was about when the phone rang at quarter of three in the morning. His finance answered the phone and it was this guy she had been getting very close with while at work. Ken thought it odd that someone would call at this time and when he started asking questions, she kept avoiding the subject.

Of course, that relationship was not going anywhere very quickly, so in order to get the problem off his chest, so to speak, he decided to put it into a song and write about it while it was still fresh in his mind.

When Ken moved from Florida to Charlotte, NC in the summer of 2011, while he was unpacking some music books and tapes, he stumbled upon this song which he completely forgot ever writing. Imagine his surprise when he played the tape and heard the song written some 20 years earlier.

Ken recently remixed the song with drums, piano, bass, electric guitar, 12-string guitar, 6-string guitar, and of course singing with himself in harmony on one of the tracks. “It came out pretty good…better than I imagined. I was just having fun with it and it showed in the song. If you notice at the end, there is whistling just before the tape ends”. Ken states that the whistling was a sign that time goes on and he whistled because it was such a catchy beat.

You can listen to it here: http://www.kenmenard.com/iwontgiveitanothertry.html

Some may say that this song can be referred to many other relationship that do not end well. That may be, but this song was written almost 20 years ago and still rings a familiar issue in many other people’s lives even today.

-Admin

Jim Croce Songs

As some of you may have noticed, there are some Jim Croce songs highlighted in yellow on the MUSIC page. Ken decided that he would like to add songs that he enjoys singing and playing on piano or guitar. Jim Croce has always been a favorite of Ken’s and when he wrote to Ingrid Croce, she encouraged him to learn the songs just the way they were played by her husband.

As Ken continues to learn all the songs, he found some Karaoke music that just had the instruments playing in the background. Ken used these recording for several songs as a master track. After the initial track has been put down, Ken would record himself playing the 12-string guitar on another track. He would then add his 6-string guitar to yet another track…and so on. Lastly, Ken has been using his 12-String guitar to play the top low string like a bass guitar. He slides his finger up and down the fret board to make different sounds…By doing this, it makes the recording more full of detailed guitar playing.

If Ken had to perform any of these songs live, there would be no way he could duplicate all the 8-tracks of music he uses to play each song. Ken has been using a Zoom R8 model mixer which can record 8 tracks (different recordings) at once (hence the name 8-track). On some of the songs, only 3 tracks are needed to get the desired sound.

Soon, Ken will figure out how to add some reverb to his voice through this pretty complicated piece of machinery. When that happens, there is no telling what kind of sound he will be able to get from this cool mixer.

Ken is trying to capture the stereo sound Country Singer Lorrie Morgan has on her website right now as an intro page. When you go to her website, listen to her short video clip of her talking. Her voice sounds so clear in stereo. Lorrie Morgan is Ken’s favorite female singer…she can be found at (http://www.lorrie.com). Also on her page, she features her son, Jesse Keith Whitley, only son of the late Keith Whitley. Keith had several number one hits such as, I’m No Stranger To The Rain, Miami, My Amy, Don’t Close Your Eyes, I Wonder, Do You Think Of Me, and When You Say Nothing At All.

Keith died in May 1989, but his memory and music lives on. Earlier this year, Keith Whitley was inducted into The Kentucky Music Hall Of Fame and his son Jesse was there to accept the award. Jesse can also been heard singing his songs and his version of his dad’s Don’t Close Your Eyes on his Facebook Page. (http://www.facebook.com/jessekeithwhitley)

-Admin

Song: You Don’t Love Me

You Don’t Love Me wasn’t written about Ken. It was written from a view of what was happening to one of his siblings during the time when they were splitting up and going separate ways. Ken finished writing the song in November of 1993, but later modified it about a year afterwards around Christmas 1994.

The song talks about being in a relationship and the heartbreak of two people splitting up; eventually getting divorced. The song is sung from a male point of view about how difficult it is to let his wife go. “It was a very sad time for many of us in our family, especially the ones going through the break up. So many times I would visit them and have such a great time listening to Country Music, playing cards or a board game, and drinking beer. My memories of these times will always be wonderful…it was too bad that ended”.

Ken recording this song on October 28, 2011 with only 12 takes to get it perfect. You can hear Ken playing 12-String, 6-String, Bass, and singing. Ken hopes you enjoy this version; compared to the 1994 version also available on the side.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/youdontloveme.html

Song: Modern Day Country

Ken recorded and uploaded Modern Day Country today, October 27, 2011. This song had only one recorded version of it on a cassette tape stashed away in his vault for the past 23 years.

Modern Day Country is about a conglomerate of times throughout Ken’s life in which there has been happiness and sadness. Ken woke up one morning feeling pride for his country and decided to write a song about having pride for the United States and Country Music. Although this song may not be the best thing he has ever written, it was added to his collection on ReverbNation / ReverbRadio.
http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_10760640

You can hear Ken playing both 12-String and 6-String guitar in this song while he added the digital drums in the background. Ken hopes you enjoy this song and looks to entertain people for years to come.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/moderndaycountry.html

Song: Understanding You

On October 25, 2011, Ken successfully recorded this ‘unrecorded’ song out of his archives. Unfortunately, there was no recording of this song on any tapes or CD’s. After several days of pondering over the lyrics and trying to remember how this song was sung, Ken attempted the recording. There was only one mistake in the recording, but it took so much out of Ken to sing it, he decided not to try to do it again. As it was, it took him 6 tries to get this version. The mistake is when he is singing the last verse ‘Tell me now so I’ll relax’ – somehow it sounds like he said ‘Tell me now so I’ll re-blax’. A fumble over words.

This song was written about a relationship back in the early 90′s when Ken lived in Manchester, CT across from Wickham Park, right on the East Hartford / Manchester town line. Ken enjoyed the relationship for some reason she seemed very distant whenever visiting. Many times she would spend the night; yet it felt like Ken was alone. “She just would not open up to me and it always seemed there was somewhere else she wanted to be. It was a very odd relationship, but a very memorable one”.

Eventually, Ken re-record this song when he had more time and energy. Ken has been fighting off a cold or something for the past week, but felt the need to get this song done. He hopes you enjoy the freshness of this song and to recognize how different it is from most everything else he has done.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/understandingyou.html

Song: Starting Over

Staring Over was written on September 11, 2011 and a copyright protection recorded the same day.

It speaks about Ken having to let go of his pride and giving up his store in Florida. Ken also broke up his empire, left the house, the dog, and all his friends behind to start a new life closer to his brother and sister. ‘No More Headaches or Drama’ refer to the pains and experiences of owning a small business in this economy. Ken’s relationship was also not going very well and on many occasions ‘drama’ would rule the day.

The white car is Ken’s current automobile; it still drives well, but it does not drive down the same streets or highways. The scenery has changed and there are no more pretentious people he has to deal with anymore. Living in the mountains can be very peaceful…nature is all around. There are no more ‘rude people’ like Ken would be exposed to from his store and even a few people he associated with in his personal life.

Ken starting building a childhood game called TOC. It has always been in his family; his father made one out of plywood and lightbright pegs. It was also played with a deck of cards and one would move around the board and try to get all your pegs into your goal. The game was always played by up to four people. Ken wanted to make a six person version, so with the help of his sister and some nice oak planks, he made such a board. Reaching the new horizons is about getting back to the basics again. Ken has always been very fond of music and he wanted to start promoting songs that he wrote to the people back in Nashville.

Although moving to Charlotte has been very adventuresome for Ken, he has not made any friends. Unless his brother or sister are around, most of the time he can be found dining alone either at home or at a local restaurant. The only home cooked meals are the ones he cooks. Ken’s hair has slowed down with the graying process…probably due to much less stress. “The days go by so long here…probably because I am home all alone most of the time and have not found employment”. When Ken looks into the mirror, he sees an aging person that he doesn’t recognize. Lost is that young kid he remembers himself being not so long ago. “The last few years have really taken its toll on me and my aging process…I look like crap, but I am getting better. There is no longer any stress in my life regardless of what gets thrown at me”.

So, Ken continues his day-to-day living not knowing what tomorrow brings. Honestly, does anyone?

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/startingover.html

Song: Moonlit Mornings of Yesteryear

This was written sometime in the early 1990′s. It was about a girl named Karen that Ken really liked…they spent quite a bit of time together. Karen had a brother named Bruce…Ken and Bruce were actually friends before Karen ever entered the picture.

Bruce did not like the fact that Ken and Karen were starting to get close, so he would take drastic measures to make sure a relationship would not form. “He was kind of selfish if I remember correctly, and would go to extremes to get his way”.

The song was written about an evening that Karen and Ken went to Newport, RI. They ended up at the beach after eating a nice dinner in Ken’s favorite restaurant. Ken knew a waiter by the name of Peter who always knew it was going to be a good night when Ken came into town. Peter met Karen and suggested a nice stroll on the beach after dinner.

Karen and Ken were all dressed up; Ken in a suit and Karen in a very attractive dress. Eventually, the two of them had a lot to drink and ended up making out on the beach well after the restaurant closed under the stars with the moon shining in the background. Peter brought the two of them a bottle of Champagne and two glasses while he finished his work and eventually closed up the place. Around 3:00 in the morning, Karen and Ken decided to drive back to Connecticut…both had sobered up by then. Ken remembers Karen filling his suit pockets up with beach sand…and the next morning, there was plenty of it on his floor.

The song starts to describe how Newport must have been in the early 1900′s. The hill up high that Ken refers to was the Cliffwalk that Ken frequented often during his late teens and early adult life. There never was an Oak tree to speak of, but Ken put it in the song anyways. The songs ends wondering how things might have been if Ken were able to have that special relationship with Karen. “She was the best thing that came into my life at the time…I was so stupid to listen to her brother and screw it all up. I was indeed very young back then”.

Ken often wonders about Karen; who she married, where she lives, and if she ever thinks about those days in Newport. I guess we will never know…unless she finds Ken and comments on this blog.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/moonlightmornings.html

Song: She’s Still Gone

She’s Still Gone always gets Ken confused with Since You’re Gone. Both were written around the same time and on the same topic. Again, the song was not written about anyone in particular, but on circumstances surrounding one of Ken’s friends that was going through a rough time.

Ken has this fascination about mirrors…you can hear them being mentioned in many of his songs. “When I look into a mirror, it makes me think of all the things that have happened in my life. It is like a time machine…always looking back at how things used to be…even my own reflection changes each time I see myself. Hmmm, that wrinkle wasn’t there before…when the hell did that happen. You know, stuff like that”. When Ken wrote She’s Still Gone, he still had a drinking problem and would often sit at a bar, think of his problems, and drink some beers.

Ken always wanted a very catchy beat with this song…it was supposed to be sad, but it was also supposed to a party song.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/shesstillgone.html

Song: Since You’re Gone

Since You’re Gone was written back in 1988. It was written about the rebound of a broken relationship – one part being glad to be out of a relationship and the other part being lonely that the relationship is over.

Ken did not write this song about anyone in particular, but did get the inspiration from a friend of his that was going through a lot of ups and downs. Ken recently remixed this song in October of 2011 and posted it online with both versions available. He was playing around with some beats in his head and came up with one from a website of drum mixes that caught his attention.

Since You’re Gone is 23 years old this year. This song was one of the songs that were sent out to the Nashville Song Plugger Association with Larry Lee. Ken had a contract with Larry Lee for a while and sent numerous songs to him in the early 1990′s. Since You’re Gone has been played for Producers Tony Brown, Jack Gale, Doug Johnson, Steve Buckingham, and Clyde Brooks. Recording artists BB Watson, Vince Gill, Doug Stone, and Mark Collie have all heard this song.

Ken has once again attempted to tap into the Country Music market by sending his songs to Record Producers in the Nashville area.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/sinceyouregone.html

Songs: Keith Whitley

Keith Whitley has always been an inspiration for Ken. Keith had this voice that sounded so different than anything else in Country music. Ken was able to do a pretty good impression of Keith by putting a small ice cube under his tongue. Ken wanted to be like Keith…wanted to be able to play his songs. This was in the day before Karaoke. Ken even grew a beard and curled his hair into a light perm.

Ken recorded the songs on the website out of respect for Keith. “It is kind of a tribute to Keith Whitley…although I could never sing the songs as good as he could”.

Recently, Ken stumbled onto Keith Whitley’s son Jesse who was born a few years before Keith passed away. “I saw a You Tube video of Jesse singing ‘Tell Lorrie I Love Her’. Lorrie Morgan is Jesse’s mother…who married Keith Whitley in 1986. In the You Tube video, Jesse is all grown up and brings his mom on stage to sit down while he sings her a song. Little did she know what he was going to do…you can hear her say something like ‘Jesse, I can’t handle this right now’, but Jesse sang it to her anyway after giving her a drink. The song was dedicated to Lorrie Morgan, but from Jesse’s Dad in heaven. When I ever heard that part, the goose bumps started. I actually cried while he was singing the song. I have no idea how Lorrie was able to keep it together…I would have been bawling! If it wasn’t for that video, I would have never known about Jesse”.

Ken and Jesse follow each other on twitter and both are friends on Facebook. There are other songs that Jesse has sung that were his dad’s top hits…and he does a pretty good job with them.

Ken looks forward to the day when he can actually meet Jesse and chat with him about music.

-Admin

Song: Life Is A Gamble

Life is a Gamble was written in 1989 when Ken was looking for a professional band to help him record. Ken ran into this person named Tami who sang for a band in the Farmington, Connecticut area. Tami was very anxious to see what kind of songs Ken was writing.

“I think she anticipated that I would hire her and her band if she let me sing with them…anyhow, money never changed hands but I was able to get a very rough copy of what we recorded. We did that recording in about 4 or 5 takes. Tami did not have very good recording equipment at the time…so she did the best she could do. I sounded horrible after listening to the tape…but it was all I had. I was off key in several areas of the song and way too loud. I wish to this day that it would have been just the music playing in the background. They were really talented musicians and came up with everything on the fly. The keyboard guy was awesome…he said he just thought of it in his head”.

Ken attempted to mix the song, but the website he has been using for the drums and bass did not have the correct tempo. Ken thinks the song is being played way too fast…eventually he will re-record it again when he can find some ‘live’ musicians that can play like Tami and her band played back in 1989.

The song was written about a one night stand Ken had back in the days. He said he felt ‘cheap’ when he woke up and found himself alone. All things started to go through his head and figured it would be a good time to get it down on paper. Ken mixed his experiences with a previous girlfriend that he had been living with sometime before. “She was always coming home in a horrible mood…yelling things…getting the dog all wound up. All the time she was cheating on me, yet blaming me of cheating on her. When I think back on it now, it was a crazy period in my life”.

Life is a gamble tells about how everyone is dealt their own hand to play in life. They can make what they want to out of what they have. They can ‘trade in’ a card for something else…kind of like getting rid of something and replacing it with something else. Everyone wants to shoot for the stars…or be the best they can be. That is what Ken tried to relay in this song. “I don’t trust a sure thing…but I’ll take what I can”.

-Admin

http://www.kenmenard.com/lifeisagamble.html

Song: Daddy Dear

Ken finally got to this song yesterday, October 11th, 2011.

Ken had a lot of fun mixing this song. It was by accident he came up with the unique strumming pattern. After listening to it on his track mixer, he found it kind of nice…so he started experimenting with it a little. After several hours of mixing and playing, he finally got it right. ‘That strum pattern is hard to get correct in the places that you hear it very clear. I kept messing up and had to re-record it about 20 times. By the end of the day, my hand was so sore”.

-Admin