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NEWSFLASH: 12/4/2008

Think of this as the first entry from a changed Paul Zarzyski, a different Paul Zarzyski than the Paul Zarzyski who wrote all the previous newsflashes, poems, song lyrics, whatever.  I lost my beloved Dad on Oct. 10th, and I’ll never be the same Paul Zarzyski,  period.

The dominant forces of 2008—turmoil and torment—have been counterpoised, thank goodness, by moments of 200-proof joy, many of those moments resulting from otherworldly journeys into the creative process, none more exhilarating—more spiritful and more filled with healing and hope—than the November 10th-15th Cash Cabin Studio recording session with Wylie Gustafson (Singer, Songwriter, and Friend extraordinaire), John Carter Cash (Producer), Chuck Turner (Engineer), and a veritable symphony of musicians, including Mike Henderson, Dennis Crouch, Gretchen Peters, Hoot Hester, John McTigue, Mike Fried, Mark Thornton, Jeff Taylor, and, yup, Wylie-The-Telecaster-Mon, himself.  Wylie and I kicked-off our co-writing compadreship 4-5 years ago with Saddle Broncs and Sagebrush, which he cut on his HOOVES OF THE HORSES CD.  On his 2007 recording, BUCKING HORSE MOON, also produced by John Carter Cash, he included the second of our co-writes, Rodeo To the Bone, as well as a song I wrote with Ian Tyson way back in the late ‘80s, Whispering Hope, as well as the title cut, Bucking Horse Moon, which I co-wrote with the great Tom Russell.
 

My Dad was diagnosed with the rare and fatal blood disease, amyloidosis, in January.  I took him to the Mayo Clinic—50 below zero with little visibility as we pulled out of Hurley, WI for Rochester MN—on Feb. 11th, one week after I’d performed at my 22nd consecutive Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV.  I returned from the Mayo to Montana with a modicum of cautious optimism that modern medicine just might offer my Pop an additional year or three of quality life.  It was about the same time, late Feb., when I received the initial demo disk from Wylie, a brace of my poems—Ain’t No Life After Rodeo and Grace—put to raucous and solemn grooves, respectively.  The Musical Universe, with impeccable/critical timing, had tossed a soul-buoy into my outstretched arms—the Power of Song, the strength of Friendship.  Wylie and I were off and running—make that jump-n-kickin’, rock-n-rowelin’.

You’ve heard me say it again and again: 8 is my favorite number, in light of all my youthful years focused on, in pursuit of, the 8-second buckin’ hoss spur-ride.  Halfway through 2007, I’d already coined a new year’s resolution and/or mantra: 88 Poems In 2008Dad’s diagnosis, which thrust me into the venerable full-time position as his health advocate, put the kibosh on my creative 88 mission.  Lucky for me, however, number 8 rose out of the sorrowful aftermath of my Dad’s passing. Of the 14 tracks on Wylie’s new record—titled HANG-n-RATTLE—8 include my wordsmithing, one of the 8 a solo voce recitation of a lyric I’ve been reworking over the past year.  Rumor has it, the piece will be offered as a bonus/hidden track—we’ll see.

 

Beginning tonight, Dec. 4th, Wylie & The Wild West performs for 10 go-‘rounds at the Gold Coast Showroom during the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas.  They’re planning to crack out a few of the new rodeo songs—Cravin’ 8s (Tribute To LeDoux), Double Wild, Did You Come To Ride…, Ain’t No Life After Rodeo, Cryin’ Hole Blues. I fly out of Great Falls tomorrow at oh-dark-thirty for The Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival.  Then 2008 winds down into the holidays—my first Christmas, of 57, without my Father.  At the Cash Cabin Studio, John Carter and Chuck are remixing, one last time they hope, before mastering , HANG-n-RATTLE.  Just days after our week together in Nashville, I flew to Wisconsin to be with my Mother on November 20th for her 88th birthday—her first without her husband of 61+ years.  In the studio, John Carter Cash’s Mother’s and Father’s memorabilia surrounded us— photographs of them on most every wall.  Big Medicine, indeed.  Before I left, John inscribed for me a copy of his book—ANCHORED IN LOVE: An Intimate Portrait Of June Carter Cash.  What a gift of the highest magnitude, what a magnificently poignant read, especially so during the 5-6 days with Mom, celebrating, so to speak, her birthday, while in the same breath mourning the loss of Dad.  The scenario was vice versa for John Carter, who lost his Mother, June, first.  Factor into this mix, Rosanne Cash, John’s sister, whose stellar album, BLACK CADILLAC, recorded after their Father’s death, has spoken soulfully to me through a hundred listenings over the past year.  John Carter Cash wrote: To Paul, Keep the faith. Your poetry and love for life inspire me.

 

Six degrees of separation?  You bet—to the umpteenth power.  We are all connected, and maybe—just maybe—the connective tissue is comprised primarily of music, of song.  I hope to learn a lot more about the heartstrings that fasten us together into one infinite, beautiful creative fabric.  With mentors, with friends, like Wylie, John Carter Cash, Chuck Turner and others cheering on my lyrical lines, I look forward to 2009, albeit without Dad and sans a lucky 8 in the date; I look forward to 365 days in Music School.

Got more to say about our 5 days (and 6 nights!) in Nashville.  It’ll have to keep until I return from Monterey.  In the meantime, take a gander at this 8-pack of snapshots, and, lest you forget, one snapshot is worth a dozen or so words.  Amen.

   
   
 
© Paul Zarzyski, 2008/created 12.05.08