Songwriter Interview Excerpt
By Paul Baratta
We were feeling quite proud of ourselves and, at the same time, very lucky. This was to be our premiere issue of SONGWRITER, and we wanted the first writer we interviewed to be representative of what we were aiming for in our magazine; articles and information that would have interest to those involved in, or, pursuing a career writing songs regard less of what musical classification they might fall into.
And, here we were on our way to talk to Jim Weatherly in the office of his publisher, Larry Gordon of Rip/Keca Music, Inc.
It was fortunate that Jim was in town and could take time out from recording his new album to talk with us. We felt we would have been hard pressed to come up with somebody who represents what Jim does; a "today" happening writer, who has had his songs recorded as hits that have reached the Top 40, R & B, Country and MOR markets. And, as a singer songwriter, has had a hit record of his own.
I, personally, was going to meet Jim for the first time and was wondering what to expect. With a string of hit songs behind him like, Neither One of Us, Midnight Train to Georgia, and You're the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me, all coming in a very short period of time, it occurred to me that that was an awful lot of success to assimilate quickly. I felt a very strong relatedness to his songs and felt I knew where he was coming from. And I was hoping that meeting him would add to my appreciation of Jim as an artist and as a person.
Well, success has not spoiled Jim Weatherly in the least. After speaking with him for just a few minutes you become aware that he is warm, grateful for his success, aware of who he is, and very relaxed with that knowledge. He has worked hard to get where he is today both professionally and personally, and projects an enjoyment at having gotten there.
Jim Weatherly was born in the town of Pontotoc, Mississippi, 32 years ago and began writing songs when he was about 13 or 14 years old.
"It was just a hobby," he says. "1 don't know why I began writing. I don't think anybody really does know why they write. If they tried to think of why, they probably wouldn't be able to. It's kind of like going to sleep. If you thought too much about going to sleep, you probably wouldn't be able to do that either."
But writing was some thing Jim could do and wanted to do. He wrote all the time he was in high school and on through college. He wasn't achieving any degree of commercial success at that time but he was putting himself in a position to work at his craft and gain valuable experience. He was in a rock group that called themselves "Gordian Knot", and during the summer, they used to travel. One such summer they came to Los Angeles, and liked it so much, they decided to stay and not go back to school. During that period, Jim was into trying to make the group successful and actively pursued trying to get a recording deal.
"My writing was mainly for the group and mainly just a side line. You know, I wasn't really concentrating on pushing that end of it. It wasn't until after the group split up that I decided to focus on my writing. And that came about as an accident too. You know, I've really been fortunate. I know a lot of guys probably haven't been as fortunate as I've been. It seems like every time some thing would just about fall apart, something else would come along and pick me up. Like it was out of my hands; I didn't really cause it; some thing else caused it. When the group was about to split up I didn't know what I was going to do. I wanted to produce records, and I was studying acting, and I was writing. I was doing everything and I wasn't doing anything well."
Jim was 26 at this time and the "something else" that came along was a friend of his who took him over to see Jim Nabors one evening to play some songs for Jim and his producer, Joe Guer cio. He played them a lot of songs he had been holding back and they liked them. They told him that if he ever wanted a job, he could have one writing songs for Jim Nabors.
"Boy, that was like a breath of fresh air, because I was really concerned with where I was going to go. At the time the band had one more job to play in Mobile, Alabama. It was terrible. Everybody was ready to split up after that particular gig, and we did. We just split."
Weatherly called Nabors when he got back in town and said if he was really serious about his offer, that they should work out some kind of deal. They did.
"I wrote for him for two and a half years while his variety show was on the tube.
(More in the Ebook)