About the Author
Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Hometown:Santa Barbara, California
Date of Birth:August 19, 1944
Place of Birth:Fort Worth, Texas
Education:B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973
Read an Excerpt
One of my most memorable experiences took place when I worked as Associate Director of ASCAP in Nashville. At the time, Rod Phelps, one of my Texas friends, asked me to talk with a new guy he was sending to see me. You must understand that in the music business, it's common courtesy to listen to your friends and spend time with the people they send you. Soon after talking with Rod, the new guy dropped by my office and played me some songs. I remember I didn't pull any punches; I told him his songs were only "fair."
In the middle of our conversation, I was distracted when one of my writersa guy with money problems-barged in. I asked my guest to excuse me a moment while I got the writer some paperwork to support a bank loan application. Later, I asked the new guy to keep the writer's situation confidential because it was a private matter. My guest responded, "Man, I recognize that writer. He needs a bank loan?" "Yeah! Everybody needs help now and then," I told him.
Overhearing the conversation the guy caught the amount of money that the writer needed. My guest said he made more than that in a week playing in Oklahoma.
"If that's the case, you'd better get on back to Oklahoma. You'll never make that kind of money playing the clubs in Nashville. I've got this saying: 'We create music in Nashville, and we sell it in Texas.' You can certainly include Oklahoma in there, too," I added.
The new guy laughed, "Well I just can't believe that. What if I bring my whole band down here?"
"How many is in your band?" I asked.
"Well," I said, "you and five other guys will starve to death in Nashville," Ipredicted.
Sensing that I'd offended my guest, I tried to make amends by telling him, "Those are just the facts in this town. If you want to come here and write, if you want to make it as an artist, it's going to be tough. However, I'll be glad to help you. I'll see you at 9:00 tomorrow morning right here in my office. Since my friend, Rod, sent you to me, I'm going to do what I can to help you." Later, I learned that my guest had the use of Rod's personal credit cards so the guy could get to Nashvillethat's how much Rod believed in his potential. "You be here at 9:00, and I'll help you find a place to live," I promised.
Well, at 9:00 the next morning, the Oklahoma guy didn't show. I waited 'til about 10:30 before I called Rod and asked if he'd seen him. "No, I thought he was with you," was the response.
I told Rod the guy was supposed to be with me. That bothered Rod because, well, this guy always kept his appointments. That afternoon, Rod called to let me know what had happened. His guy was all upset with me and was headed back to Oklahoma. I explained that all I did was just tell him the truth. "Man, if he can't take the truth, well, I'm sorry. I just told him the way things are in a detailed story of what has to be done to make it in Nashville.ö
That was the end of itor so I thought. About a year later, this Oklahoma guy came back. But instead of seeing me, he walked right past my office and down the hall to talk with my associate. Soon after, the two of them struck a deal. I guess the guy didn't particularly want to see me. A few months later, this associate left ASCAP and opened a publishing company with the guy from Oklahoma.
Several months later, I attended a "Writer's Night" at Nashville's Blue Bird Cafe. To my surprise, the Oklahoma guy was filling in for a writer who didn't show up. A few months later, he was signed to Capitol Records and recorded his first album. At that time, the president of Capitol Records was a friend of mine named Joe Smith. I sent Joe the guy's advance tape and told him to give special attention to this young man. I told Joe this guy was a friend of mine, and he's going to be a "monster" artist. Joe took my advice. Capitol Records spent a lot of money on the new artist and did everything necessary to help him become a huge success.
After this guy hit the top, he told everybody who would listen that everything I'd said had been true. Since then, he has thanked me many times. Not long ago, the now legendary country star and I got together. He said, "Merle, you remember that first meeting we had in Nashville? Has it already been ten years? I'll never forget it!"
This story just goes to show that it takes more than being friendsit takes talent, persistence, focus and hard workto survive and become a superstar in the entertainment business.
Just ask my friend, Garth Brooks.
(c) 1998 Merlin Littlefield All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Health Communications, Inc. from Chicken Soup for the Country Soul.
All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Health Communications, Inc. from Chicken Soup for the Country Soul.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The country stars now tell their stories. A CD is enclosed in some copies with music to go with the stories.
This is the best ever!! Great stories!! Worth the money!!
Even if you've never listened to a soulful country song, you'll enjoy this book. Filled with heartwarming stories from country stars, country music lovers and simply folks who live in the country, this book is another perfect Chicken Soup For the Soul. Each night my husband lets me read one story (such a tyrant!) and some nights I cry over the story, some nights I read it aloud to him. Each is a gift that touches the heart.
I had never read any Chicken Soup books when I bought this one. I had only heard of them and seen them in stores. When I saw that there was one that was for 'The Country Soul' I couldn't resist but to give it a chance... and had no idea what I was about to experience... You will cry tears, both happy and sad, you will laugh so hard you'll fall on the floor and have tears in your eyes, and your heart will be touched in no way any other book could... I'm familiar with the city and grew up in the country. Needless to say, I am a country girl at heart. I've read books filled with short stories before, but none were like this one. No matter where you live or what kind of music you like, this book will touch your heart like no other and you will charish every moment spent reading it. It will bring back memories of your own past, stories you may have heard before, and much more. Once you read this, your heart will never be the same... It's so wonderful, it's beyond words... No matter who you are or what you like, you will love this book and not be able to put it down! It will touch your heart in so many ways!
This book was wonderful especially for me because I am a city girl who LOVES country.