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Bill Dees was a songwriter. He lived it. He wrote songs daily, most of which were never written down or recorded. Sometimes he'd sing a song that I thought was amazing and I'd ask him "who wrote that track?" He said "I did". I asked “when?” He'd often answer "just now". I wish I had that talent.

Mr. Dees (as I’d call him, he’d call me “Mr. Style”) was not only a great songwriter, he was an unbelievable singer, pianist and guitarist. He should have been a superstar: he had it all but from what I figure was missing one thing, he was not savvy in the music business side of things. That also cost me as a lot of the stuff we reworked together and I even recorded, I couldn’t release because it turned out the stuff we were reworking originally had other writers attached. It was a painful, expensive lesson. There are a lot of great songs sitting because no one knows who owns what or how to legally record/release them.

I lived with Bill for some time just outside of Branson. He always welcomed me since I met him in 1995 and called me a great houseguest, I guess because I did my best to earn my keep and not be in the way. In that time period, I experienced some of the most beautiful, miraculous and bizarre things of my life: all Bill related. For example, I saw him bring a dead fish that was out of water for at least eight hours back to life by praying. He had a unique cast of characters around him and coming in/out of his life. Bill’s life would have been the best reality show on television. Bill welcomed me to write a book about him, I would have loved to but his story is epic and confusing and the fact is, a book could have been written about Bill every month of his life.

Bill was very generous, he had a thing called “left pocket love” where he would have a pocket full of cash that he would randomly give to people. I thought it was amazing and it often confused me as it’s not like Bill was a millionaire, he made millions but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know who he was, because as fast as it came in, it was gone. One time I saw him give a large tip (it was either $50 or $100) on a pickup order at a restaurant, for me that was a huge amount of money at the time as I was living off of credit card working on my Roger Miller book. When I asked him how he could just give his money away and walk away from things he spent tens of thousands of dollars or more on (this happened a few times while I was around), he puts his arms on my shoulders, looked in my eyes and said with conviction, “it’s all free!”

“It’s all free” has stuck with me. It’s quite profound and works on many levels and probably makes perfect sense if you live your life from that point of view. He walked away from deals, relationships and scenarios that would have haunted me for a lifetime yet he never brought them up again (at least not around me). He knew how to let go which is another ability I wish I had of his.

Bill was a good man who seemed to always be in a good mood, even in the end. He had a close connection to God. He spoke of the Bible more so than any connections he had to the music industry. Here was a man that toured with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, had a very close relationship with Roy Orbison, knew some of the biggest names in the music industry yet he didn’t have anything more to say about them than the lady he had a conversation with at a grocery store that week. It seemed that no one was more important than anyone else, which is a great lesson but also a bit frustrating when you wish you could have seen the magic in the music industry he witnessed.

The first song we wrote together was a track called “There Ain’t No One In The World Like You”. Whenever I think about that song, I realize it was a foreshadowing of getting to know my mentor, my friend, Bill Dees because without a doubt, there was no one in the world like him.

Rest In Peace Mr. Dees, thanks for your time, the music and the memories you gave.


 
Posted By Style
I am a Starbucks addict. If I wasn’t addicted, I’d never do business with this outfit again. Why? Because I regularly drink Venti Mocha Frappuccinos with a single shot of espresso blended in and almost every time, I don’t get what I paid for.

The problem with the majority of Starbucks is that they make the frapp with the shot in it, fill up the cup and then dump out the remainder (usually 20%) or so that’s in the blender. The problem when you dump that 20% out, they dump out 20% of my espresso shot that I paid an extra 75 cents for. That adds up if you have an average of 5 of these drinks a week.

I’ve called Head Office about this issue to see if I was ordering it wrong, like get it on the side or order a “complete shot”, the customer service said that there shouldn’t be any dumped out. This isn’t the case though at the majority of Starbucks I go to. After a trip to Maple Grove, Minnesota Starbucks yesterday, I saw the girl dump out about half the drink which meant half my shot was gone. I took the drink, couldn’t taste the shot so asked for another shot (not a remake of the drink, I wasn’t trying to be a jerk) because she dumped half of it out. I guess I was a mental- case for saying something about this, she told me that it’s the nature of frappucinos to dump some out so I could never get the full shot I bought and then reluctantly gave me a shot of espresso to add in myself. If I had a gun, I would have shot myself right there in front of her because it appeared I was very out of line for saying something and don’t deserve to live on the same planet as that barista.

I know there are more important things in life than getting screwed by Starbucks on a regular basis by a fifth of a shot of espresso or so but it’s a crappy way to start the day off – getting screwed, even if it’s just a little screwed. If I wasn’t addicted, I wouldn’t piss and moan about this issue but the problem is that Starbucks has what I need…


 
Posted By Style

 If someone would have told me that I’d ever write a word about Michael Jackson on my website a month ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. The death of Michael had little to no affect on me, when I heard the news, I just assumed it was a hoax as I’ve been hearing about his comeback for some time and what a better way to “comeback” than from the dead. There’s still people who think Elvis faked his death, and from what I understand Michael was fascinated by the death of Elvis and spoke of it often.

 

The thing that freaked me out more than the death of Michael Jackson was the record number of suicides that took place in the following 48 hours of news of his “death”. Never in history has there been more suicides recorded since 1984 when “99 Neuf Balloons” was in the charts. I did a psychology paper in ’91 on how more suicides took place with that 45 found on the record player or directly linked to that song than any other song out there, the second place song linked to thousands of suicides (to this day), is the theme from the Nutcracker.

 

Anyway, it hit me a week or so ago that around Christmas of this past year, I received an email from a “Michael” (no last name) who asked how Johnny faked his death in my screenplay “The Life and Death of Johnny Kitsalano”. I replied to “Michael” with a pitch on buying the screenplay and then he would find out exactly how Johnny did it successfully (for the record, I at no point thought at that time it was Michael Jackson, I thought someone was just trying to steal my idea). I never got a response back from that email pitch and I never gave it any thought until this past week. I did a detailed search on my hard drive and even on my back-ups looking for that email (and my response) so I could prove that I’m not making this up but in January, I got a virus that made me format my laptop so unfortunately I have no record of these emails. Now I realize there are probably hundreds of “Michaels” living in the world and what are the odds that it was Michael Jackson, but I thought I’d throw it out there as it’s been eating at me -so perhaps that is proof Michael Jackson faked his death. And for the record, this story is free to read about, that should prove the legitimacy, it’s not like I’m trying to sell my story to the media.

 

Anyway, I do feel bad for those that cared about the guy and even more so for the families and friends of those who took their own lives shortly after his “death” was announced. I have to admit though that it was an honour hearing that some memorials played my song “Until Next Time” which is a fitting song for a funeral and oddly enough, if someone chose to fake their death (available on ITunes & my album “Cutting Room Floor”).

 

 

www.doitwithstyle.com


 
Posted By Style
 Someone came up to me when I was standing in line at Starbucks at Portage Place and said “You’re the reason your Grandmother is dead” and then she walked away. I was a little dumbfounded, I didn’t even respond to her and I tried to act like nothing happened, I just kept my head down but I could feel people staring at me.
The lady who said that to me was probably in her 50s, she didn’t look insane, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her before in my life, but it got me thinking, maybe I am the reason my Grandmother is dead. I wasn’t too close with my Grandmother but there’s no reason I’d ever want her to die although one of the last things she said to me was, in front of a room full of people I might add, “I can’t believe how fat you’ve gotten”. It hurt, but she was right, I did get fat although it’s strange because I don’t eat or drink as much as I used to, in fact, I eat quite a bit healthier than I ever did yet the pounds seemed to catch up with me in my 30s. I was never skinny but I admit, I’m ashamed of the way I look. But still, that’s no reason to plot my Grandmother’s demise.
When my Great Grandmother died and my Grandfather a few years later, I sang at their funerals, separately, of course. I sang “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” to my deceased Great Grandmother which was fitting in a way since she died right before Christmas. For my Grandfather, I wrote and sung a song called “See You When We See You” which was something he’d say when he was saying goodbye to someone.
Now, I think my Grandmother told me “I want you to sing when it’s time for me to go” but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. In fact, when she did die last year, no one asked me to sing at the funeral, and I was fine with that, it’s not like I think it’s a good time to promote my music career at a funeral, however, it ate at me that I should sing a song at her funeral because I think she told me she wanted me to. So I asked my mom if I could sing at her funeral, and with the permission of a few key siblings, I was granted my wish. I sang “Until Next Time” which is the closing track on my CD (which I didn’t advertize at any point during the funeral, for the record). I did that song because it’s a sort of farewell track that seemed fitting. I don’t know if I did the right thing by singing at her funeral. I hope she didn’t mind.
Anyway, my Grandmother died just a few weeks before our son was born, leading up to that time, I never called her as much as I should have. I think it’s because I had a lot on my plate at the time, a pregnant wife, a CD in production, busy with life in general, or perhaps it’s because subconsciously, I knew I was still fat and a part of me was ashamed and maybe even jealous because I knew she lost a lot of weight.
Since that day at Starbucks, I’ve been carrying guilt over my Grandmother’s passing although I don’t know if I should or not. I still can’t figure out why that lady said that I’m the reason she’s dead but no matter how hard I try, I can’t prove that I’m not the reason she’s dead. A part of me also can’t help thinking that there’s a good chance she said that to the guy in line behind me.

 
Posted By Style

My wife says I spend too much time on things that don’t matter. This is probably one of those things. This is the first time I’ve written a blog, I hate that word (I almost didn’t have this on my website because of that word). I spend hours every day tweaking things that probably don’t need tweaked from the playlists on the iPod, song lyrics, an update on my website or a letter to an industry person that probably won’t even read what is on the paper or perhaps even get in their hands. I am most likely obsessive compulsive with attention deficit disorder which isn’t a good combination and can be quite tough to live with, both for me and my family. If anyone is reading this, you may find it interesting, as I did, that I received a prescription in the mail this week for anti-depressants from someone that heard my new CD, so perhaps you can add depression to my list of unofficially diagnosed disorders.

So after over a decade of work, my new CD is finally available and after all those years I’m starting to think for the first time, does anybody care? I just realized that I’ve invested everything I own and all these years on something I don’t think anybody (except my gut) ever asked me to do. Don’t get me wrong, over the years, I’ve been asked many times “when’s your new CD coming out?” but I think I misunderstood that as “I want you to record a new CD and I can’t wait to pick up a copy”. That’s a pretty big mistake, if it is one.

Maybe when my musical heroes first started out, they were fulfilling a need for the public, but in today’s market, is anybody looking for a “new” recording artist? I hope so. I have to believe that there’s always room for another good song to listen to, but just how does a person get a song really listened to? For my mental health, I have to believe there is a reason I was lead on this path instead of being something like a dentist or lawyer. I could have easily paid for all that education for what I’ve invested in myself in working in the entertainment industry. It’s frustrating because I see friends with “real” jobs that live in beautiful homes and are making six figure incomes and I’m just sliding by with the help of my credit cards. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for all their success and it’s not jealousy at all, I want the best for everyone, it’s just hard not to think if the right path was chosen. I guess time will tell. All this deep thought is another waste of time, and I’m notorious for wasting time, unfortunately.

Looking at my life (and my wife), I can’t complain at all, and I am not complaining, although I am told it’s good to complain because the more you complain the longer God lets you live. I know that I am beyond blessed: I’ve met all my living heroes with the exception of Bob Dylan (although I just saw him in concert last night and it’s hard to tell if he is still a hero or not after that show). I have a book published and for sale at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville among other places around the world, I met the life of my love and married her and we have a son who instantly turned out to be the sunshine of my world. I am signed to a great label and finally released the CD I’ve wanted to for so many years.

So now what? The thing that eats me up is most successful CD projects out there have an enormous budget to purchase advertising, media attention, hire publicists, promote to radio, tour, etc. Unfortunately, our promotional budget is us doing everything which is ok if the CD is actually listened to. Most people don’t realize that the music industry is an enormous Catch 22, unless of course, you have money, lots of it. First off, you can’t get a manager unless you have a record deal, you can’t get a record deal unless you have a manager, you can’t get a distribution deal unless you’re on tour, you can’t go on tour and make a living unless people know who you are, and the list goes on. I guess what keeps me going is that no two recordings artists have the exact story to tell on how they made it and all “rules” in the entertainment industry are broken often. That, and I never listen to what people tell me I can’t do. Perhaps I’ve pursued the music industry to prove someone wrong, I just can’t recall who.

Anyway I don’t know what my point is, or what my point is supposed to be as to be honest with you, I don’t understand the purpose of a blog. Basically, I wrote this just so I had a first blog to post. If you actually read this blog and would be interested in reading another one, drop me an email just to let me know if anyone actually reads these things and what you want me to give a “piece of mind” on. I’m a very opinionated person which may not be good as my wife tells me I lose more of my target audience every time I open my mouth.

Until next time….

 

Yayo


 

 

 
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