Songwriting Confidential #18

In 1963 Jerry Kennedy was the head of Mercury Records. He was a really good guitar player and played on a lot of sessions in town. Jerry was physically a big dude, scowled a lot, moody, and a little intimidating.. As I circled Jerry and others like him in the early 60's music scene, it only occurs to me now how young I was in all of that; a New York kid with a lot of brash on when I really didn't know much of shit. I could play a few guitar chords, knew some folk songs and had written two of my own before I got to Nashville. Those two songs got the attention of Buddy Killen who was a music row big shot back then. Buddy was a smooth country dude who made it real big in the Biz, so big he discoverd Joe Tex and recorded all his hits, Ronnie Wilkens and John Hurley who wrote LOVE OF THE COMMON PEOPLE and SON OF A PREACHER MAN, Curly Putnam, Roger Miller, Bobby Braddock, Robert Riley, all killer songwriters with monster hits. It was the beginning of the new wave of the cultural revolution and I guess I had that young and hopeful look that maybe smelled like money to some of those guys including Jerry Kennedy. Jerry had heard some of my songs that didn't sound anything like the Nashville sound except in the lyrics that told stories like Nashville songwriters wrote at that time. Jerry told Buddy he wanted to meet me and maybe do a record,.When I went into that meeting all I saw was a large imposing man with black hair who hardly smiled or looked at my face as he fondled a gut string guitar. He talked and talked, but I was in BUZZ LAND, almost feeling like I was losing consciousness; Jerry affected me in that way. All I remember was he agreed to do a record on me and I left..I made the record and it didn't do crap. Years later I thought about that meeting; I was very young then, a Northerner with a thick Brooklyn accent trying to understand and fit in with country Southern people, I was still basically back in New York in my head, full of tics and nervousness and wise guy thoughts. The impression I left behind with everyone I met in those early days including Jerry Kennedy; even though I might have appeared as kind of a strange kid, I never left their presence where they didn't have the realization that I was deadly serious about being a songwriter and an artist. That's what I had come there to do and I would not let anyone or anything try to tell me different. In retrospect, I might have been a little unnerving to Jerry Kennedy.