PUBLISHED ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS 2018-2020
A NIGHT IN THE BIBB COUNTY JAIL
MY BAND LAW developed several regional strongholds early on in our career, including Hot ‘Lanta. Our first week-long stand at Funnochio’s in 1971 with the original three-piece band (then called L.A.W., short for Lawrence Acker and Williamson) was memorable for several events. Funnochio’s on Peachtree Street was the hottest small club in one of the hottest music markets in America. Each night, they would close the club at midnight and re-open after hours at 1:00 AM for select clientele. These were the hours when musicians from all over town would convene at Funnochio’s after their own various gigs and recording sessions for free-for-all jam sessions often lasting until sunrise. Artists we jammed with that first week alone included members of the Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Michael Des Barres of Silverhead, and Mother’s Finest. One major disappointment came when a black guitarist who was the spitting image of Jimi Hendrix asked to play. Well, of course! But he was horrible. He didn’t even tune up. He just started shredding in a world of his own with absolutely no clue. “Hold up! Hold up!” I shouted into the mic. I stopped the “music” cold. “Dude, you got to go,” I told him. Hey, sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. We also made friends that week with the local Warner Brothers rep, Dan Davenport. Dan later discovered the country singer, Travis Tritt, and steered him to stardom. Unfortunately, that did not end well for either one of them. Things seldom end well when stars start believing their own hype. A WEEK AT GRANT’S LOUNGE By early 1973, L.A.W had become LAW, with Ronnie Lee Cunningham (who replaced Mickey Williamson), Steve Lawrence, and me. We had played a few shows at the newest Atlanta hot spot, Richards, before a week-long residency at Grant’s Lounge in Macon. Members and crew of Wet Willie and the Allman Brothers showed up the first night to welcome us to town. They were all leaving in the morning for a two-week excursion up North together, and they graciously introduced us to their girlfriends who, they said, would help to make our week comfortable. That they did. Wet Willie’s road manager was particularly kind, introducing me to his gorgeous Japanese girlfriend, Kiko. It was all very innocent, just one band’s hospitality to another. I had no intention of breaking that trust. I believe it was Friday night when the girls threw a big party for us at the Wet Willie house. I remember taking a couple of “reds” that night, i.e., Tuinal, and drinking my fair share of Tequila. And that is the last thing I remember until morning. I woke up naked in Kiko’s bed. Kiko was on the phone, talking to her boyfriend. Through the fog of my hangover, I heard her tell him, “Steve Is here in bed with me.” “WHAT??? You’re telling him I’m in bed with you? OMG! I don’t even remember how I got here.” “Well, he deserves it,” she said, “He’s mean.” Oh shit, I’m thinking. Now I’m gonna have the Wet Willie crew gunning for me. Great. The hell of it was, I’m pretty sure nothing happened between us. I sure as hell didn’t remember if it did. Later that day, the other girls reassured me. “Don’t worry about it, they’ve got problems, he’ll understand.” UNINVITED GUESTS The last show of the week was on a Sunday night. The roadies, Lefty and Louie and a huge guy named Tiny, packed up the gear while we retired to our rooms at the motel in Macon. When the roadies returned, they rolled up one joint for each room. No big party scene. Just a bunch of tired musicians chilling after a hard day’s night. SUDDENLY…BAM! The door bursts open. A plain clothes cop leaps into the room, followed by a dozen uniformed cops. They have a warrant. “What’s going on here?” the plain clothes cop demands to know. “Nothing dude, we’ve been working. What the fuck???” The warrant says that the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department had been informed that a major drug party would be happening in our rooms on this night. It was Ronnie Lee’s bad luck to be holding the roach from the only joint we had the moment the cops burst in. Taking it from his hand and placing it in plastic bag, the head dude ordered us to sit and be quiet while they searched our two adjoining rooms. All they found was that roach and a few pills. That was enough to haul us all in a paddy wagon down to the Bibb County Jail. All told, between the band, the roadies, and a couple of friends from the club, they booked nine of us. Somehow, someone was able to make a couple of calls (I don’t remember who) to someone at the club and to our manager in Ohio. During the process, while they were taking my mugshot, one of the cops told me “Your wife is here to see you.” “My wife? But I’m not married.” “Well, you’d better tell her that.” Leading me out to the main room, I saw Kiko through the plate glass window, pleading with an officer. “Oh crap,” I thought, “did I marry her, too?” IN THE BULLPEN Without getting to speak to my “wife,” the guards led us all to a large room surrounded by two tiers of cells. They called it the Bullpen. But Ronnie Lee—our only black member at the time—they led elsewhere. They segregated Ronnie. I watched as they led him away to God knows where. So, there we were, surrounded by the dregs of Bibb County, jeering us from their cells overlooking the bullpen. “Look what we have here, a bunch of hippy freaks.” It was not a particularly hospitable welcome. Nevertheless, by morning we made friends with the natives. One even agreed to smuggle a note to Ronnie Lee, wherever he was. Around noon, we were all released without charges, all but Ronnie Lee. He was arraigned before a magistrate for possession of marijuana and released on bond. The bond was paid by the owner of Richard’s. Our manager, Gary LoConti, called him after he got the call about the bust and he drove down from Atlanta to bail us out. With our tails between our legs, we drove back home to Youngstown, Ohio. For most of us, it was over. A month or so later, Ronnie Lee flew back to Macon for a hearing. We had learned that the informant for the warrant was the assistant manager of the motel. He overheard Ronnie Lee on the phone in the lobby tell his girlfriend, "We'll be taking another trip on Sunday." He was referring to our trip home. The assistant manager thought he meant we'd be having an acid party in the motel. The manager fired him for it.
The attorney Gary hired assured Ronnie that if he plead guilty, he’d be released with only a misdemeanor possession charge on his record. But after he plead guilty before the judge, the judge sentenced him to a year in prison. Ronnie nearly fainted. The judge enjoyed drama, I guess, because it took him a minute to add, “Suspended.” Ronnie Lee came home a free man, and we never went back to Macon, Georgia again. Nor did I ever see my “wife” again, either.
We Are the Lions of Gettysburg!
During the Summer of 2015, I collaborated with a Jackson, Mississippi historian by the name of Dr. Christopher Lahr on a planned musical play set in the Civil War titled "The Lions of Gettysburg." Sadly, Dr. Lahr fell ill during the course of this effort and we were not able to complete the play. Nevertheless, we did complete ten fine songs and portions of the book, from which this speech is drawn.
It is the Eve of Battle...the most momentous battle in the history of our Republic. To fortify the courage of his men, to inspire them, and clarify their cause, the Captain stands before them to deliver this speech. THE CAPTAIN’S SPEECH Tomorrow we will face the Confederate Army in all its might and power. Tomorrow many of us will die. It was not my choice to lead you into this battle. It was not my choice serve in war. But serve I have and serve I will, with eyes wide open. The injustices I have seen, the inhumanity we fight, will soon come to an end. Yes men, I will lead you into battle and I will do my duty. I stand before you now to share a magnificent vision with you on the eve of battle, to reassure you that there is indeed a grand and glorious reason to fight….and die. I see a bright future. I see in our many bright tomorrow’s a strong and united nation that shall not be feared for its strong armies and deadly weapons, but loved because it stands for the rights of all men. No longer will one American take from another the fruits of his labor because of the color of his skin or the circumstances of his birth. In the America I foresee every able-bodied man and woman will prosper solely by the strength of their efforts and the keenness of their minds. Learning and labor will be rewarded. Lethargy and lassitude will tremble. Education and effort, not birthright and guile, will be the pathway to riches. No longer will some men steal the indentured labor of others. Effort, learning, knowledge, skill and labor will be the foundation upon which fortunes will be built. Not skin color. Not birthright. Not social class. Not unearned status. Together we will build a new nation where all men are free, where no man will possess the power to dominate another just because his father has money in the bank or even owns the bank. The rule of law will be applied fairly to all men and women, not just the poor, the oppressed and the penniless. The wealthy shall fear the magistrate's writ as much as any pauper. Fortune and status will no longer purchase freedom for the guilty. Theft at the barrel of a gun or at the bank teller's window will be prosecuted as surely murder is prosecuted. With eyes wide open I see one nation, a united America, North and South, East and West, respected and admired, and even loved around the world for its shining example to others. An America that will be loved because its power will rise from the hopes, the strengths, and the labor of her free peoples of every color and creed. No longer will one man be the master of another based upon his birth. No longer will the rich dominate the poor with the lash. No longer will any man or any woman serve any other man as a slave. No longer will our government make decisions and legalize policies based upon inherent benefits to a wealthy and a powerful few. No longer will our leaders lead us into needless wars without the confirmed consent of the majority. No rich man will ever have the power to curry favor from the elect based solely upon the size of his purse. The machinery of war will grind to a halt without the consent of the people. Our nation will grow in power by the strength of its unions, not that differences that divide us. Tomorrow we march as a house divided, brother against brother, state against state, but I see a day when we will march as one for the freedom and success of all. Our resources, our knowledge, our skills, our science, yea, even our merchants will strive to build not weapons of darkness, but sources of light. We will be known not as death merchants but as bearers of light and hope and reason. No longer will we journey to steal, to dominate, to preach and to destroy but rather we will journey to teach and to share. Our worldly neighbors will not fear our tread at their doorstep nor our knock on their door. They will find their hovels surrounded not by men armed with steel, but by doctors and teachers and nurses armed to heal. This I see, this I believe. As I stand before you now, know that I stand on a mountaintop and what I see is that land of the free and that home of the brave so long ago envisioned by a poet named Key as a tattered flag flew in the light of dawn. Yes men, tomorrow we fight, tomorrow we die, tomorrow we make history. But know this: Whether the battle is won, or the battle is lost, your bravery will be remembered and honored by history. For we fight to preserve an honorable ideal, we fight to destroy the power of evil men. We fight for freedom, we fight for honor, we fight for the dignity of all men and all women all around the world. You may not see that now through the fear you feel in your bones…. but I do. A new day is upon us. Our descendants will honor or disdain us for what we as a nation do from now on, for the choices we make, the principles we sustain. Shall we surrender to shame or shall we fight for honor? Shall we be mere men, or shall we be Lions? Shall we whimper, or shall we roar? Let us charge into battle not as mere men, but as mighty lions. We are not farmers, we are not teachers, we are not tailors, we are not merely men. We are the Lions of Gettysburg and yes, the world will hear us roar!
The A File: Empaths and Savants
I have been writing a book about this entire adventure since the day John H first called me on August 30, 2007. I have been writing it with email messages and journals. I may be grandiose, I may be crazy, but I seriously believe that this book, when complete, will tell an incredible story with universal (and commercial) appeal. Two things have been said about me in the last five years that may explain who and what Steve Acker is and why he does the things he does: 1) Steve is an Empath, and 2) Steve is a Savant. An empath is a person who has extraordinary empathy with other people’s emotions and feelings. Bill Clinton once famously said “I feel your pain.” Well….I do. I feel other people’s pain. I feel other people’s joy. I feel other people’s anger. I feel other people’s hatred. I feel other people’s love. It’s almost like that kid in the Bruce Willis movie—“I see dead people.” Not always (I can be equally insensitive to other people’s feelings, too, you would probably agree), but often enough. I see things and feel things other people don’t see or feel. And while most people who are not outright sociopaths have normal empathy with others, I really do believe that my empathic powers are beyond the ordinary. And throughout my life I have tangibly expressed these feelings in word and song and in the way I play. LAW, was one of the best live bands ever (ask Roger Daltrey if you don’t believe me) because I somehow attracted a collection of players and singers who musically expressed themselves with the same energy and power that I had from the first time I ever set foot on a stage in the 8th grade. This collective power was, on stage, downright amazing and for seven years LAW was one of the biggest draws in almost every geographic region we covered. Our empathy with our audiences was simply amazing. NOW ON TO THE SECOND THING: Steve is a savant. John H once said that. It was a very interesting statement and I’ve been thinking about it. This is my analysis of that statement: First, I would add one word to that appellation, if it indeed applies--Prodigious. Wikipedia defines and describes a prodigious savant: A prodigious savant is someone with a skill level equivalent to that of a prodigy, regardless of any cognitive disability. The most common trait of prodigious savants is their seemingly limitless mnemonic skills, with many having photographic memories. Prodigious savants are extremely rare, with fewer than one hundred noted in more than a century of literature on the subject. Treffert estimates that fewer than fifty or so such individuals are alive today. So while there may be some truth to this idea that Steve is a savant, I kinda doubt that I am THAT rare! BUT, in essence, I get it. I understand. “You are own worst enemy,” John H tells me. I must concur. I’ve been saying this about myself for years—half genius, half lunatic. Half good, half bad, half happy, half sad, half beautiful-half ugly, Hell, I’m half everything. Half Yankee-half Southern , half conservative-half liberal, half right brained-half left. And you wonder why Steve is so friggin’ neurotic?! The trick, for me, has always been to harness and channel the genius, the good, the happy, the beautiful, and the productive, and make it work, while minimizing as far as possible the madness. Take the Cannoli, leave the gun. I get it. So let it be written, so let it be done….(that’s kind of a running in-joke between John H and myself).
The A File: Character
I WROTE THIS A FEW YEARS AGO TO A FRIEND. I am thinking this morning about character. Specifically I am thinking about Burt's character and Mary’s character…or lack thereof. [BURT WAS MY LACY'S BOYFRIEND, I FORGET WHO MARY WAS]. I am also thinking of my own character and the enormous character of all my closest friends. So what is character? One dictionary defines character as "the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person." In another dictionary, character is said to be "the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual's life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances." Our Character Is Who We Are Abraham Lincoln said, "Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree." Our character is not just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right thing to do. Clearly, Burt wounded you deeply, Lacy. I know only what you have told me about him; my personal impression of him from our only conversation was not entirely positive, but it wasn’t particularly negative either. Frankly, I would not base my evaluation of his character on the nature of his relationship with you, but on what you have told me about his professional conduct, which appears to be not professional at all and that indicates to me a character deficiency. Mary, too, is displaying an appalling lack of character in her behavior. But I wonder, does her behavior indicate a lack of character or is it fueled by alcoholism and desperation? Is Ray’s behavior fueled by external influences or is he a simply a man of low character? There is a difference, you know. Alcoholism and addiction are not moral failures, they are illnesses. A.A. claims that alcoholism is a disease. I don’t believe that, but I do believe it is a spiritual sickness. I gather that Ray is not an addict. So, unless he suffers from untreated bipolar disorder or is otherwise mentally impaired he has no excuse. Mary is an addict, and while that does not excuse her behavior, it is possible that if she were to recover from her addiction eventually she could also recover her character. I was raised by a father of the highest possible character. I am quite sure I will never meet anyone in my life of exceeding his character. Some of that character, I hope, rubbed off on me. But there was a long period of time, ending about five years ago, during which no one would have believed that I had any character at all. That was the addiction. That was not “who I am.” My father is the standard by which I evaluate (not judge) the character of everyone I meet. I have made many mistakes along the way. I have naively overestimated peoples’ characters, which I have documented in “Lunatic Magnet.” That has led to several disturbing conflicts in the last two and half years since I started writing full time, because ultimately the character of these lunatics, and the purity of their vision, did not match my own. My attempts to draw them into my own vision made them uncomfortable and they retaliated in destructive ways. I’m learning. my present group of closest friends, advisers, and associates is evidence of that. You are part of that group. I place each of these individuals in my pantheon of most-admired people just below my father. Each one possesses character way beyond the norm and I would trust each one with my life and the fortune I intend to have one day. That I have been blessed to attract such amazing individuals into my life somehow is, for me, confirmation that along with all the mistakes and missteps I have made, I must also be doing something right. My thought for you this morning, Lacy, is that as long as you maintain your own impeccable character these people who have violated your boundaries and trust and are presently causing you grief will recede into the fabric of your past and will ultimately serve to build your character and make you stronger. So hang in there baby. I believe in you. And Happy Valentine’s Day.
The A File: I Can Do That
I WROTE THIS ON OCTOBER 22, 2008. I AM POSTING IT TODAY AS I WROTE IT THEN. The topic of today’s entry is “I Can Do That.” I’ve been threatening to articulate my belief in the power of positivity for a while now. Well, here it is—my modest manifesto on the meaning of life. When I left LAW in December 1977 and moved to Mississippi I was emotionally exhausted. Eight intense years on the road had taken its toll. It was, in many respects, like being married to four people at once, without the sex. Leaving the band was like getting divorced from four people at once. Four times the disappointment, four times the stress. So when Bob DiPiero said, “why don’t you move to Nashville with me?” I balked. “No, my friend” I said, “I’ve got to drop out of the game for a while.” Bob went on to become one of the top country music songwriters in the world. I went on to become many other far less glorious things; everything but the one thing God intended. Thirty years later John Hanti discovered me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So here we are, one year later, with a catalog of quality songs to sell, on an upward curve that continues to grow more solid with each passing day. At last I am doing what God intended. There is no way I could have arrived at this point without practicing on a moment-by-basis positive visualization and without rejecting the negativity I encounter nearly every day in so many forms. One of my hugely talented friends calls my way of thinking “pie in the sky.” She has so much to offer, but her literary output goes largely unnoticed because she is incapable of viewing life from a positive perspective. Unfortunately for both of us, many fine songs will remain unwritten because of that. Soon after moving to Mississippi I cut my hair, bought a couple of ties, and went to work for a debit insurance company (Combined) founded by W. Clement Stone, “Door-to-door, store-to-store, floor-to-floor till there ain’t no more.” That was one of the company’s many motto's. Stone was an early pioneer of the Power of Positive Thinking. In the early 1930s he wrote this line in his book “The Success System That Never Fails: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe the mind of man can achieve.” Truer words have never been spoken. Combined promoted Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) because there was nothing whatsoever gratifying about the work itself. In order to motivate its sales force its sales managers would lead morning PMA exercises before we hit the streets. We would visualize the results of our work--the money, the houses, the cars, the boats, etc etc.—and keep it in our minds throughout the day, I bought into it and it worked. The first year I was in the top ten nationwide every week. I would routinely sell a hundred policies a week, Then for some reason my mind turned back to music one day and from that moment on my sales started dropping. I was using the same pitch, the same rebuttals, the same outward enthusiasm, but my heart was no longer in it and my prospects picked up on that. Soon afterward I met a young man who wanted to get into the music business and whose father was one of the wealthiest men in Mississippi. He put up the money to buy a big block of time at a local 24 track studio and suddenly I was back in the game, I left Combined behind, but it was an essential step on this journey and I am grateful for the experience. In the ensuing quarter century I encountered many curves and bumps in the road, some good, some not so good. I may have failed to practice Stone’s principles, but I never forgot them. I can cite two concrete examples of the validity of those principles. The first was college. When I enrolled in Mississippi College in January 1982 I made a commitment to my parents and to myself to graduate in three years. My PMA was back and I sustained it throughout those years. I missed the mark by only one semester. The second example came about two years after separating from my first wife in 1990. During those two years I couldn’t land a single date. I couldn’t even pay to get a girl to look my way (rhetorically speaking of course). I’d lost my self-esteem and I was in a negative frame of mind and the women I met responded the same way my prospects had. No sale. Then I joined a band that included my old Ohio buddy Birdie of Val and Birdie fame and just like that my self-esteem was back. I looked the same, but my attitude changed. Suddenly the girls I couldn’t get a few months earlier were knocking on my door. It was my re-discovered positivity that made all the difference. Some would say, aw it’s just because you were in a band, but that alone would not have done it. A decade later I went through another similar period. This one lasted five long years. Then, in May 2007, I made a conscious decision to change my life again. I started losing the 246 pounds I had gained. I started writing in earnest again, I joined a couple of Internet dating sites and started getting a little action again. And then John Hanti popped up. I entered into our partnership with complete confidence in myself and in Hanti. Somehow I knew that I could do this, that I could write and produce hit songs. Hanti believed that too and has never wavered. He’s guided me when I’ve strayed off track, he’s criticized me when I’ve fallen short of excellence, but he has always encouraged me, and it’s working. Now, the more I write the more I believe I can write and tHat I am capable of writing anything I set my mind to. There are no limits. I listen to current hits and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can do that. Some techniques and styles are still beyond my current capabilities, but they are within reach. Furthermore, I am attracting people into my life constantly who are in positions to further my career in one way or another. These positive changes extend even to my physical condition. My vocal chords are getting stronger, which is evident in my singing. My range has increased considerably. Even more miraculous, my vision has improved dramatically in the last six months. At the start of this year I couldn’t recognize a face from thirty feet away without glasses. I didn’t dare drive a block without them. Today I don’t need glasses at all except to drive and even that is changing. Hanti theorizes that the changes in my vocal muscle system are exerting pressure on my eyeballs and changing their shape and that is changing my eyesight for the better. It’s the Law of Attraction at work. The best selling book and DVD, The Secret, defines and expounds on the Law of Attraction and I am living proof that it is indeed a universal spiritual law—you attract that which you think about. Your outward circumstances are a direct manifestation of your innermost thoughts. This is nothing new. W. Clement Stone was saying the same thing seventy years ago. Jesus was saying it two millenniums ago. Yet so many people have yet to discover this “secret.” They could change their lives, they could put an end to most of their problems, yet they fail to see it. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. I will cite one more example, a trivial one, but typical. I got a speeding ticket a few weeks ago, my first ticket in ten years. I pleaded with the cop to give me a simple warning, but he was unsympathetic. I continued to believe that I could get out of the ticket somehow and decided to appear in court and plead with judge for mercy. The day of my court appearance arrived and when I got there they told me “Your ticket has been taken care of, it’s been converted to a warning.” How in the world did that happen? It was the Law of Attraction. So yes, I can produce hits. I can win this game. Whatever it is in the world I can conceive and believe, I can do that.
The A File: There's a Party Tonight
We once discovered an adorable 16-year old Pittsburgh singer named Jayna. John H and I wanted to take her to the studio in New York to record a few songs and then pitch her to Disney. I had written a song titled, “There’s a Party Tonight.” John H responded to it: "If you were aiming for the 6 to 12 year old Nickelodeon market, you hit a bulls eye." That was my first attempt to write a teen song for Jayna. I considered his remarks to be positive in as that I did hit the Disney 4 to 10 year old ‘tween market square on the head, This was borne out by my own resident Disney expert at that time, Ms. Haley Pesta, age 9. She loved it. That was the market we were aiming for, was it not? That I could do this, and make the song sound not like some old guy pretending to be young, but actually sound young, was a good thing, right? Right. But as a song for Jayna, I missed the mark by a few years. I was Alice in Wonderland who had taken a few “smaller” pills, but then I had to take one or two “bigger” pills to grow up just a little more and hit the perfect demographic for Jayna. Fortunately, I had a whole cupboard of bigger pills and smaller pills in the bathroom. John H also once said that he and I hear the same way. Our tastes are almost identical. I loved Pink, I loved Kesha. I loved Beyonce. I loved Mary J. Blige. I loved Gary Go. There was not a song or an artist that he liked that I didn't equally like. I liked Taylor Swift, too although Taylor was not really country. She was pop. Taylor Swift was Jayna’s musical idol. How we presented our pop songs to her and how we persuaded her to accept them and to write in that vein was a delicate thing. Doing so is,was part of my job. So…back to “There’s a Party Tonight.” If we wanted to market that song purely to the Disney market, it was there. If we wanted to market it to Jayna’s more sophisticated young adult market, I had more work to do. So I quickly wrote more than a dozen complete songs for that market. I painstakingly recorded each demo. I wanted to make hits. That was my mission in life. Sadly, it was not Jayna's mission. She was simply not willing to work and sweat and bleed for it. I was (I still am). She wasn't. Nothing ever came of that project, and nothing ever came of Jayna's career.
There was no party tonight for Jayna.
The A File: How to Create a Perfect World
The source of nearly all human conflict is poor communications. “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke The sole exception to that would be evil. But that is a different topic. If all the children in the world were taught how to communicate effectively, how to express their ideas and their feelings articulately, how to assert themselves when necessary, yet remain conciliatory at all times, then there would be no human conflict. We would all understand each other. We would see the divorce rate shrink, killings decline, War recede, and we would all enjoy a far more harmonious world. With such universal cooperation, the world’s business and the worldwide economy would rise through the roof. Our universal standard of living would improve tremendously. We would have a near-perfect world. Ayn Rand created such a world in “Atlas Shrugged.” A big fat paperback I picked out of the pile to read at my parents’ house somewhere in my 20's, I had no idea what Atlas Shrugged was about when I started reading. 1,000 pages later it had changed my whole outlook on The Way of the World and on mankind. It wouldn’t hurt, either, for every child to read or be read a Golden Comics version of Atlas Shrugged. The catch? Because all children are not capable of grasping these lessons. Or are they? Many bleeding hearts would have us believe that most children get short changed in “Life’s Lottery.” Thus the Welfare State. Short of being actually mentally challenged in some way (and I am always moved when I see elderly parents caring for mentally or physically challenged sons and daughters) are not all children capable of grasping these ideas? Why would they not be? Sure, we are all born with different levels and different types of intelligence. But God promises us that He has given us all our own special gifts and that we all have the power within us—His Power—to achieve that which He created us to achieve. So theoretically, the Perfect World is Possible. Education is the key. Effective communications is the door.
The A File: Treading Water
I've been treading water
I can't tread anymore
I’m bone tired and weary
I can hear Niagara roar
But it’s not too late, there's still time
If I'm worth saving,
Somebody toss me a line That song was true for a very long time. It was almost literally accurate. At the beginning our journey together, my executive producer made it clear that he would not be providing me with any personal financial support. If I wanted to take the journey, I had to pay my own fare.I think it was a wise choice. I'm actually glad he did not. Eleven years later, I owe him so much, but I owe him no cash. Today, we are involved in viable, profitable ventures. We have an substantial song catalog that may yet one day be sold. to shop. He invested no cash, but he did invest many hundreds of hours of hi time. He laid the goodwill of his associates on the line by representing me to them and presenting my music to them. He coached me and taught me and inspired me and nurtured me. With his guidance, I became AN ARTIST.
John Hanti is my Yoda. While I am still, to some degree, treading water, the water is not nearly as turbulent as it was in the early years. A couple of months after I signed with SST, Baptist Health Systems in Jackson, MS offered me the position of Chief Communications Officer. It was more money than I had ever made. But it would spelled the end of my songwriting career. When I sought John's advice. "What's the worst that could happen?" he asked, "if you chose to follow your dream?" You wind up living on a boat in the Keys diving for your dinner every night,”
I declined the job offer.
So instead of living the upper-middle-class corporate life all these years since, I have lived the life of a starving artist. I have tread water. But I regret nothing.
The A File: On a Vertical Train
"We're on a Journey to the Stars on a Vertical Train." I sometimes reveal too much personal information to people. It has frequently perturbed my executive producer. More than once, he has seen my Facebook posts copied to him and he has scratched his head in wonder: who are these people and why the hell is he writing this? When I first dove into these perilous artistic waters at his behest, I was living in a musical wilderness named Jackson, Mississippi. I had nobody around to talk with, nobody to work with, nobody to play with. I decided to change that, First thing I did was join some dating sites and that provided a few worthy adventures, but it got soon got tiring. In the summer I decided to take a different approach to enlarge my circle, which he and I discussed at the time. I added interesting new people to my life, some I barely knew and some I'd known forever.
They became my first "entourage." No man is an island and I thrive in the company of others. This group included my parents' Sunday school teacher, my ex-AA sponsor, new co-writers and new advisers. I wrote the emails and Facebook posts in question to build my little group. The other reason was to develop material for my eventual book. I decided early on, when John first signed me, to write this book while on the journey, not later in retrospect. I called my journal The A File: A Songwriter's Story. I wrote about madness in the midst of madness: The Borderline Psycho-Bitch. The Drunk on Jesus in Alabama Affair. The Virginia Tech Backstabber. I thought these stories would make for a very entertaining chapters in this book. I thought, too,. that the painful experiences would serve to make me a better songwriter and a better man. And they have. Besides, how can you write colorful songs if you don't live a colorful life?' Every email message I have ever written and sent to anybody or received from anybody remotely involved in this project since I embarked on this journey on August 30, 2007 is material for the book. A lot of the book will be verbatim email exchanges about the development of the songs, my adjustment to the challenge and the growth that comes with challenges met, the chicks, the struggles, the good, the bad, and the ugly....all supported and connected by an ongoing narrative interspersed throughout the book. This is why I started writing this journal.
Our story--the story of John Hanti and Steven Acker--is a fascinating story. It's unique. In Nashville, everybody's got the same story--The Bluebird Café, Music Row, waiting tables to pay the rent, blah blah blah. But our story is different. Maybe that’s why some people ihang around instead of running away. Because they want to hear the story…a story that’s unfolding right now. Hell, they are the story
. On the other hand, maybe a few are just waiting to watch the train wreck. REGARDLESS…. There is one key and one key only that will open the door of a New York City publisher and only one possible ending to the story that would sell it---SUCCESS. People love winners. Losers they don't give a shit about.
The A File: Boundaries
A JOURNAL by STEVEN ACKER The topic of today’s entry is “Boundaries.” All creatures great and small exist within boundaries. Few of them know where those boundaries lie until they reach them and test them. Some cross over their boundaries, often with dire consequences. Farm animals have fences. If they somehow find their way to the other side of the fence, purposefully or unwittingly, they may get lost and they may starve. Family pets sometimes have invisible fences to hold them in. If they should bump into the fence, they get shocked. They may try it again and again, but eventually they learn where the boundaries lie and they no longer approach them In prison, if you cross another inmate’s boundaries you might pay for it with your life. If you attempt to cross the boundary to freedom, you might also pay for it with your life. In interpersonal relationships, both business and personal, each party has certain boundaries which, when crossed, can jeopardize the relationship. Well, when a farm animal crosses the farmer’s boundaries, if the animal is valuable, the farmer will go after it and retrieve it. If not, the farmer may just let that animal go. The question then is, is this animal (me) valuable enough to retrieve? And can this animal adjust to his boundaries and find contentment within them? And the answers, of course, are yes. If farm animals can learn the boundaries, so can people. It's one of secrets to sustaining lifelong friendships. Steven Acker