Updated: Jul 4
In addition to songwriters, I called authors.
I reached out to author T.C. Boyle last year when I was getting near the end of my Unruly Mix book. I couldn’t come up with a title and a one-sentence description. He’s been a best-selling author for 40 years and has written short stories in a style that I like. I once interviewed his illustrator, so I had a common thread on which to approach him.
“I've named all my collections after my favorite story of the batch,” he said. “That could work for you - or you could invent a title that reinforces the music theme, perhaps lifting it from music terminology or the title of a song.”
I named it after my favorite story of the batch, which ended up as an apt description of a bunch of very loosely-connected stories. Once you have a title (and a cover) in mind, it keeps you on target.
From there, I finished the project and began marketing and getting back to reality.
I revamped my resume, LinkedIn, and all that boring stuff. I wasn’t expecting to work full-time again at a writing job, but sure enough, I was recruited as a writer working remotely at the end of the summer. Perfect.
Although wholly engulfed in the job, I learned to allocate time to my projects, including more about Ken Ascher and Paul Williams. Among many other pieces, they also co-wrote “Rainbow Connection” and the entire score of The Muppet Movie.
I tracked down Ken by discovering he plays at Birdland in NY weekly, so I went to a show. When it was over, I approached him at his piano, said hello, and mentioned my story in the book.
He knew nothing about it, but I got his contact info, wrote him back a week later, thanked him, and sent a copy of the book to Birdland addressed to him. A week later, he calls to thank me, complement the story and chat for more than an hour.
All this because I wrote a story about his song.
This led to another show at Birdland. Ken joined my girlfriend and me at our table after the show this time. We talked for an hour or more. I had a list of things to ask him before we met, but I never got past the first question about John Lennon when he provided me with countless tales of the recording business.
Not that I wrote a song with him and Paul or anything, but I can now sort of call them friends, even though I’ve never actually met Paul.
I’m still trying, but he lives on the West Coast, so I’ll have to be creative. A couple more of their songs may pop up in a story one of these days. As I progress, narrow my plot lines, and incorporate more musical references, Volume II is becoming less unruly.
Call a songwriter and things happen.