An insurance company that allows customers to customize coverage says, “Only pay for what you need.” I might add (not concerning them), “Only pay for what you get.” A few times, I have paid the piper, so to speak, but I never got my music. As a singer/songwriter/musician, I’ve recorded seven CDs, but two of those were never heard by anyone other than me, the studio guy, and the band members.
When I lived in Southaven, Mississippi (suburban Memphis), I put together a Christian band called The King’s Band. Eventually, we had enough original songs to record a CD. Of course, Memphis is home to several famous studios. Some of the biggest names in music have recorded there, including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, The King’s Band, Rufus Thomas, B.B. King, Booker T and the MGs, to name a few. Did you notice my band in that list? Are you kidding me? No, I’m kidding you! We never came close to recording in any of those studios, but I did have the privilege of meeting Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Studio. He even attended my church a few times. I would tell you that he came so he could hear me preach. A little closer to the truth would be that he came because his sister-in-law was a member of our church!
Since our band was independent, with no contract or record label, we could record anywhere...as long they let us and we had the money. Those famous studios were out of our league, not to mention beyond our budget. We met someone in Southaven who operated a recording studio in his home. He was really good, and within a matter of weeks, we recorded and released our first CD. Surprisingly, It still has not gone gold or platinum, but we did sell enough copies to make back our recording expenses! A couple of years later, we had amassed another collection of original songs, so we went back to the studio. We laid down tracks for another twelve songs. We paid for the studio time as we went. We finished the project except for final mixing and mastering, but before that happened, I moved back to Alabama. That was over thirteen years ago and I’m still waiting. I am a patient man...or something.
After I moved to Alabama, I completed two solo projects in a studio in Auburn. Sadly, not long afterwards, the owner died and the studio closed. For my next recording, I traveled four hours, round trip, over a period of several weeks. I recorded guitar and vocal tracks for twelve new songs and was ready to add other instruments and harmony vocals. Then the vintage analogue recording system we were using crashed and gave up the ghost...without giving up my recordings. The owner apologized but said he didn’t have the money to repay me. Sadly, he passed away not long afterwards.
As I was working on a new song called, “They Must Have Seen a Sucker Coming,” the strangest thing happened. I met a man who owned a studio nearby. I recorded two CDs there. He even played and sang on the recordings, mixed and mastered them, and put the completed products in my hands! Must be a new way of doing things!
I’m reminded of another song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”...even if you’ve already paid for it. I learned a few things from those experiences. We cannot always control things that happen, but we should always be sure that we do what is right when we are the one in control.
—Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.