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"Misty Voices: Letter From An Old Friend"


I get large amounts of mail from amateur songwriters, many of them past acquaintances
who feel something is due them for associating with me before I was of any practical use.
The following is a typical example: (Notes in parentheses are mine) --

"Hi, Jack! Sorry about taking so long to answer your letter (Note -- Eight Years), but
we've had company from out of town. We were just talking about you the other day after we
noticed your record albums in the stores up here. You look great, even with the long hair
and strange clothes. Have you put on weight? (Note -- the correspondent unwittingly killed
any chance of a favor from me at this point.)

"Do you remember the cold winter night I gave you a lift down to the gas station to get
kerosene for your heater after the gas and electric companies had shut you off! And I'd
have run you all the way back home through the blizzard too except for the smell of the
kerosene. You know I would have.

"Well, you finally made it, didn't you? Everybody up here always knew you would. We were
just kidding when we used to call you a no-good bum. HA -- HA. We were just trying to put
some spunk into you, and you'll have to admit -- IT WORKED!

"Since you are an old friend I am giving you first crack at the enclosed original song.
If you don't record it I'll have to send it to Johnny Cash, so let me know right away, and
don't worry -- it's copyrighted.

Your old kerosene buddy,
Robert."

The following is the hit he enclosed:

    WHEN I'M GONE (or THE GOODBYE SONG)

    When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore
    When I go - I'll say goodbye and walk out thru the door
    Then you'll see it won't be me that's with you as before
    When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore.

    (SECOND VERSE)
    When I'm gone - if you're alone you'll know that I'm not here
    When I go - if I am far away you'll know I won't be near
    Then you'll see it won't be me that's with you as before
    When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore.

    (CHORUS)
    Goodbye - Goodbye - I think you ought to know
    It doesn't mean I'm going to stay
    It means I'm going to go 
    Goodbye - Goodbye - The sun comes up at dawn
    You'll find I won't be here no more,
    Honey, when I'm gone."

My answer:
"Dear Robert,

In unbiased critical appraisal I must admit that your lyric has a certain steadfastness,
not leaving tbe slightest worry in the listener's mind as to the protagonist's departure.
It drives home the point and makes its title known with a repetitiveness highly valued in
the commercial field. Its simplicity is to be complimented as well as its portrayal of a
situation in which each of us has found himself at one time or another.

The first-person style and identifiability of the characters only strengthen the argument
that you have invested the total of your talent in this one grand effort.

In consideration of the above and in sincere gratitude for the kerosene you took me to get,
I cannot, in good conscience stand in the way of you and Johnny Cash. Please send it to him
and take all the credit for yourself. Don't mention me at all. Heaven knows you deserve it.

Your old friend,
Mr. Blanchard"

Copyright  by Jack Blanchard. 

 

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