Just some thoughts:
“And you best also know when to fold them.”
I immediately recognized him as he walked into my coffee place. As he passed by my table I said, “You gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them.” He did a quick glance at me and said, “I’ll get my coffee and be right back.”
As he approached my table, I said, “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille, with four hungry kids and crop in the field. I’ve had some good times, been through some bad times, but this time your hurtin’ won’t heal.” This was my meeting with the two time Grammy award winner, Country Hall of Fame songwriter, Don Schlitz.
We talked for some time, and he could not have been more humble and kinder with my questioning of his writing. In fact, he took out a song he said he had just written a week or so earlier and wanted me to look at the words and asked me what I thought. “What me, look at your writing?” “Well, anyone quoting my lyrics to me first thing over morning coffee, yes, I’d like them to take a look.”
When Kenny Rogers spoke at Schlitz’s induction into the Song Writers Hall of Fame said: “He is brilliant, unpredictable, compassionate and wise.” Schlitz told me that Rogers now asks for a first look at anything he writes.
Some years ago I had the good fortune to meet and spend some time backstage with Rogers before one of his performances. At that time he was riding the wave of success with the classic song Schlitz had penned, “The Gambler.”
Rogers was equally kind as Schlitz was on this morning. In fact, Rogers invited me to play his private golf course. Later on one of my trips back from the Master’s in Augusta to New Jersey, I stopped just outside of Albany, Georgia, where Rogers was living at the time. Along with the tournament director from the Georgia State Golf Association, I played his course. Rogers personally designed every hole; it was his private sanctuary, very private. We, along with Roger’s dog, were the only two playing on the course that day.
Don Schlitz often plays a songwriter’s venue, the Bluebird, here on the west side of Nashville. He does a nine p.m. show that he calls, “Dollar night with Don.” If you ever have the opportunity to go, do so. I can assure you, you will get more than your money’s worth.
Oh by the way, one of the greatest song lines ever written was penned by Schlitz and sung by Rogers. The line:
“The best you can hope for is to die in your sleep”
Pretty hard to argue with that line.
January 15, 2018
Posted June 29, 2019