That night, in a deep funk, I did what survival does, I circled the wagons, calling in the advice and council of some of my most trusted friends. Only hours after my hard lesson in “coming back to reality,” fortuitously I get a call from my good friend, Steve, who has something very different to say, “What’s the downside, really? At best, you get a new record deal and maybe even score a bullseye. At worst, you end up with a pocket full of really great songs, and you get other artists to cover some. I say you go where the heat is and see where it takes you.”His words started to calm me down and help me trust myself again.
And then, almost immediately after I spoke with Steve, I got a call from Gary Burr and Georgia. “What’s up,” asks Gary. He could tell from my tone of voice something wasn’t right. “I’m just down tonight,” I hesitate. “Truth is, I just had a very disconcerting call from a trusted advisor within my camp, and I have a lot to think about. I’m so damned depressed, I was thinkin’ maybe I should just wait till tomorrow before I called you… to sort’a sleep it off.”
“Well, just know that we loved what happened musically the other day,” said Gary. “We’re both very excited to explore where this might go,” Georgia chimed in over the speaker, “Kenny…what feels right to you?”
I take a breath, and the part of me that remembers who I am finally speaks up.
“Well, let me put it this way…I went with my gut when Messina and I first started, even though there were no acts like us on Top 40 in those days. 6 years later I made ‘Celebrate Me Home,’ even though L&M was still riding the big wave.
I went with the spark when my heart knew ‘Leap of Faith’ was the record I HAD to make, even though no one at Columbia Records ‘heard any hits,’ so much so that they almost dropped me from the label ¾ of the way through recording it.” (Ironically, in the coming couple of years, “Leap” would be the only CD of my career that would yield 4 hit singles.)
“2 years later I followed my intuition and went against the CBS president’s strong admonitions when I made ‘Return to Pooh Corner,’ even though nobody in pop music had ever made a “Children’s/Family” album and managed to keep their ‘rock credibility’ at the same time. And that record is over two-million units now.”
I went on, “I’ve just always followed my heart… and I’m not about to stop now.”
“Well, it sounds like we’ll be seeing you in Nashville again next week then,” said Georgia, chuckling.
“Most likely,” I said, feeling finally calm again.
That night I text Gary and Georgia a title for a song idea that just jumped out at me. All I wrote to them was: “Too Old to Dream?”
A week later I’m back in Nashville writing with Gary and Georgia again. “Check this out, ” says Georgia, and she picks up her guitar and sings these words:
|“Leave me in the rain
Send me out to sea
Lock me up in chains
Throw away the key
The day I ever
Get Too Old To Dream”
I was blown away. It was as if she was singing my life, and it would immediately become the chorus to my favorite song of ours (so far).
Years ago, I heard a man named Joseph Campbell say, “Follow the bliss,” and for some reason I believed him. I’ve always sensed that the wisdom of those words would simply take me where I belong. I have to say I’ve been very fortunate sticking to that road map, even when it’s appeared to be a highly illogical one…which is to say, every time. Funny how that works.