In light of Kim Williams passing, NSAI Board President Lee Thomas Miller wrote a tribute letter this week to the legendary songwriter.
A songwriter died. In a town made famous by people who write songs, this is a bad week.
Kim Williams wrote songs, hit songs, award winning songs. He wrote country songs and he did it on the holy ground of country music, Music Row.
"Did you hear about Kim?" That kinda became the talk this week around the music biz in general but especially in the writer rooms. Truth is, there aren't as many of us as there were when Garth was writing those early albums (with Kim). For those who were already in this 16th avenue humming, Harlan Howard worshipping, 'bumper sticker title' chasing, hillbilly fraternity in the 90's, you see how much smaller our songwriter family is in 2016.
A very successful writer friend of mine recently told me a story about a conversation he had with his own wife. They were discussing the merits of a song she had heard on the radio (perhaps she didn't like it or didn't get it). He said "It's a songwriter thing". She took that to mean that he was implying that writers were smarter or cooler than others. Of course he didn't mean that (benefit of doubt inserted here). Truth is there are "songwriter things". Spouses know it even if it elicits an eye roll.
Songwriters listen differently, think differently, feel differently. They love intensely OR reject it without reason. They think too much and dream too much. They are predictably unpredictable. They are fact and fiction and walking contradictions. (Kris' words not mine). And they critique, judge, admire, resent, hate and love their fellow songwriters. Now those last things are not uniquely songwriter traits. But when creativity and music is added to the normal strain of living life as an adult, well, basic human vices and/or virtues make the songwriter "complicated", "artsy", "eccentric", "brilliant", "crazy".
I have been watching the tributes to Kim on social media this week. His friends and coworkers are telling stories- personal, beautiful stories told by story tellers- about a story teller. They are colored more by humor and admiration than sadness. And yet they are sad because the authors have lost a friend, the fraternity has lost a brother. The world has lost a songwriter. Prayers to his family. He was too young to go but he overcame more physical adversity than anyone should ever have to endure. But this we know, the unexpected end of Kim's life was delayed long enough for him to see the inside of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He was elite.
Having been entrusted with representing our interests regarding music licensing reform in Washington D.C. and therefore asking the United States government to update absurd, antiquated laws and regulations to literally save our profession, I am reminded why it is worth saving. There is an anonymous network of amazing poets creating the fuel rods of the multi-billion dollar music industry out of thin air. They are singing and thinking and praying for just one more break. They are watching over each other. Learning from each other. Loving each other. Missing each other.
And this week a songwriter died.