I've always loved music. One of the earliest songs I remember, at age 3 , was Gogi Grant singing "Wayward Wind." I would stand by the old record player -- it had this great smell to it -- and listen to the song. I could see in my mind the railroad track, the shack by it, and the deep darkness of the sky beyond it. This is what I work for in my songwriting -- hearing the words and seeing the story.
My parents always had music playing in the house. They were transplants to suburban Lexington from the hills in Southeast Kentucky that they had left because of WWII. They were both teachers, and their incomes were modest. We stuck out like sore thumbs in suburban Gardenside -- we were always playing Mother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, the Osborne Brothers, Patsy Cline and others like them on the hi fi, and we often dined on fish, squirrel, rabbit and venison -- kind of like the Gardenside Hillbillies. Our backyard was filled with a wonderful vegetable garden and fruit trees my father grew and tended. In the evenings and on special occasions, I watched as my uncles and father played the old hill music on their guitars, banjos and fiddles. I learned at their knees.
I begged for a guitar, which I finally got at 12. My cousin Thomas Edward Hoskins taught me House Of The Rising Sun, and from then on I learned to play and sing the folk and bluegrass songs of my era with my girlfriend Genie Sherman Walker (who sang on my album), and began to put together songs on my own. I've played with many other groups since then, i.e., the Mountain Oysters, Crooked Pine and Trace Branch and I've always appreciated the chance to play with such great people.
I credit my father with first investing in me the notion of writing songs. I would often work with him and he would be whistling or humming and I would ask what the song was. He would tell me it was something he had just made up. He had that wonderful mountain sound to his voice. I regret now I never taped him -- at the time I was too young. But he planted the idea of writing my own songs in my fevered brain, and I wrote my first complete song, Katydid, when I was seventeen.
I have a BA in Journalism, and I've written in many capacities. They say "write what you know," so I write mostly about Kentucky -- farm life, horses, the mountains, and of course, love lost and whatever else life does to you. My songs are based on people and places I've known and many are just "slices of life," -- mine or otherwise. Nothing quite does it like writing a song. When other people respond favorably, it's a treat, and when other musicians take it and really flesh it out, it's nothing but great. I tip my hat to the fellows (and Genie) who played on this album, and made it the fun experience it became.