Tom Kimmel’s Spring 2010 News


1. Greetings!
2. News: Writers’ Conference report, trio album progress
3. Drawing Board: New Agrarians, solo record
4. Special Feature: TK’s Top 50 Favorite Records!
5. Recommended: for Spring and Summer Travel!
6. Note from Shauna: TK house concerts and song coaching

1. Greetings!

I’m writing from a hotel bed in Las Vegas. No, I’m not hungover! Just napping after rising at 3:30am local time to head to the Nashville airport. *Tomorrow begins a ten day run out west with compadres Don Henry and Sally Barris–also known as The Waymores.

I’m not a gambler–except with my up and down career, of course(!)–but they sure have some good food in Vegas. And tonight, the Waymores are invited to attend The Lion King, courtesy of long time friend and fan Lynn Holt. Thanks, Lynn!

*BTW the place we play here in Vegas tomorrow night has the best venue name EVER: Garage Ma Hall!

2. News:

A. Last week I was the featured writer at the Ninth Annual Writers’ Conference at Calhoun Community College in Decatur, AL. I lectured, recited my poems and performed for two large workshop groups, and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more–or felt more welcome or cared for. Would love to do much more of this! (Thank you to Leigh Ann Rhea, Randy Cross, Sheila Byrd, Jill Chadwick and all at Calhoun who made the event a success.

B. Waymores album progress
The aforementioned Waymores have cut twelve tracks toward our debut album, and it’s all going very well. The current plan is to release a bare five song virtual EP mid-to-late summer… and the full album in the fall. I’ll include progress reports etc. in upcoming newsletters. (Thanks to Paul Schatzkin and Cohesion Arts for helping us plan the work and work the plan.)

3. Drawing Board:

A. New Agrarians (me, Kate Campbell, Pierce Pettis)
We finished writing two more songs last month and are continuing to lay the groundwork for our own recording and performing. Lots of juice here. We love what we’ve written so far, and we’ll continue to nurture the whole thing (and keep you posted on progress).

B. Sherpas (me, Tom Prasada-Rao, Michael Lille)
We’re available for booking and hope to play a bit more from here on. (See booking info at end of newsletter.)

C. Solo album
I’ll begin it as soon as the Waymores record is done!

For what it’s worth (at this early stage), there are two records I’m wanting to make: one, a fast-ball-down-the-middle Contemporary Folk/Americana record; and two, a collection of songs I’ve written with Scandinavian (and Canadian) writers I’m thinking of calling “Songs from the North Country.”

Maybe I’ll just start recording what I’m enjoying most and see which one takes shape first. But first… must finish Waymores project.

D. Songbook
On hold for the moment, but I will get back to it, and I’ll let you know when there’s a real publication date.

4. Special Feature: TK’s Top 50 Favorite Records!

Tom Kimmel’s Top 50 Favorite Records (singles or album tracks)!

I published my Top 50 Favorite SONGS in a recent newsletter and posted that list to my oft-neglected blog at my MySpace page ( Please note that with my TOP 50 RECORDS list (below) I’m distinguishing favorite SONGS from favorite RECORDS. In compiling my favorite songs list, I tried to choose songs that may be recorded by multiple artists, that more or less stand on their own and are not so much associated with specific recordings.

On the other hand, most of my favorite records feature songs that are closely associated with their recordings–that magical combination of song, artist, performance and actual recording.

Making these lists is a lot a fun–I highly recommend it–but the process can also be provocative. You might be surprised feelings that arise as you recollect the songs, records and albums that have moved, inspired and entertained you. In a sense, we’re talking about the soundtrack to our lives.

BTW, watch for my Top 50 Favorite ALBUMS list in an upcoming newsletter!

TK’s Top 50 Favorite Records (chronologically, more or less)

White Christmas
artist: Bing Crosby
writer: Irving Berlin
recording: Holiday Inn (soundtrack), 1942

The best selling single of all time. Bing first performed it on the NBC radio show ‘The Kraft Music Hall’ on Christmas Day, 1941. He recorded it the following year for the soundtrack of the film ‘Holiday Inn.’

There are several stories about how Irving Berlin wrote the song. Found this one at Wikipedia:

One story is that he wrote it in 1940, poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. He often stayed up all night writing–he told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written–heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”

Cry Me a River
artist: Julie London
writer: Arthur Hamilton
recording: Julie Is Her Name, 1955

Written in 1953 with Ella Fitzgerald in mind, it was first recorded by actress Julie London, who made it her signature song. Perfect song, wonderful performance and recording.

Love Me Tender
artist: Elvis Presley
writers: Elvis Presley & Vera Matson
recording: from: the film Love Me Tender, 1956

Believe it or not the melody for Love Me Tender was adapted from the Civil War ballad “Aura Lee,” written by George R. Poulton & W.W. Fosdick and first published in 1861. Elvis sang it on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956, and RCA got over a million advance orders for it. BTW it was featured in his movie, Love Me Tender–the only movie in which Elvis’s character dies.

And here’s a fascinating tidbit I found in Wikipedia: The song is credited to Presley and Vera Matson because of the publishing agreement reached for the assignment of royalties, but the principal writer of the lyrics was Ken Darby (Matson’s husband). The song was published by Elvis Presley Music. Darby also adapted the Civil War tune, which was in the public domain. When asked why he credited his wife as co-songwriter along with Presley, Darby responded, “Because she didn’t write it either.”

In other words, even though Elvis didn’t write a word or a note in the song, he received co-writer credit AND publishing. (He did a fair job singing it, though!)

Walk Don’t Run
artist: The Ventures
writer: Johnny Smith
single, 1960

This is the first 45rpm single I remember buying with my own money. I was six years old that summer, and I walked down to the drug store on the square–the only place that sold records in Monroeville, Alabama in 1960. I loved that Ventures guitar sound.

The Christmas Song
artist: Nat King Cole
writers: Mel Torme and Bob Wells
recording: The Nat King Cole Story, 1961

Covered a zillion times, The Christmas Song is the most performed song in BMI’s catalog. Nat King Cole first recorded it in 1946, but it is his fourth recording of it–in stereo, with full orchestra–that most of us hear on the radio each Christmas.

Walk Like a Man
artist: The Four Seasons
writers: Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio
single, 1963

The old joke goes, “Walk like a man, sing like a girl,” but these guys made so many great records. I bought this single, too… at the drug store!

Oh, Pretty Woman
artist: Roy Orbison
writers: Roy Orbison and Bill Dees
single, 1964

I was a ten year old in Robertsdale, Alabama when I heard “Oh, Pretty Woman” on the radio, and it may have propelled me into early adolescence. Mercy. Still a stunning record.

Theme from the Pink Panther
artist: Henry Mancini
writer: Henry Mancini
recording: The Pink Panther (soundtrack), 1964

What a pure joy, this recording. And it still SOUNDS so good.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (mono mix)
artist: The Byrds
writer: Pete Seeger
recording: Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965)

Ear candy in the mid-Sixties–but with serious spiritual heft. The harmonies, McGuinn’s ringing Rick. Wow!

BTW McGuinn came up with this arrangement for Judy Collins a couple of years previous to this Byrds recording.

You”ve Lost That Loving Feeling
artist: Righteous Brothers
writers: Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil/Phil Spector
single, 1965

The song, the performance, and maybe Phil Spector’s best production. Masterpiece!

(Click on Tom Kimmel’s Latest Blog Entry)

5. Spring and Summer Travel Recommendations!

A. AAA Plus

Time to start planning summer vacations, and if you’re driving, AAA rocks! On a recent Waymores trip our rental car–a Jeep Liberty, FYI– broke down on the interstate in rurual Virginia… a hundred miles from our gig. Arrgghhh! But wait! AAA sent a tow truck to the rescue, and the nice young AAA fellow put the Jeep on his flat bed truck and dropped us (and the Jeep) at the venue doorstep… just in time to walk on stage!

Note: Make sure you join up least at the AAA Plus level. That way you can be towed up to 100 miles. Also note that AAA offers many other services, including free passport, free notary, discounted movie tickets, flowers, and luggage. And all this for only about $90.00 a year.

B. Southwest Airlines

Once Ralph Nader was asked if there was any American corporation he could endorse. WIthout hesitation he replied, “Southwest Airlines.”

And speaking of vacation travel, Southwest has the cheapest fares, the nicest staff, the best on-time and safety records, and the most generous frequent flier program. Plus they let you carry on your guitar.

I recommend signing on for their “Ding!” specials. They’ll let you know when there’s a sale fare on the destinations you’ll be traveling to.

Just remember to check in online 24 hours before departure (or use their $10 Early Bird check in)–so you get a decent boarding number. And don’t forget to bring your own lunch!

C. Best value in guitar case for travel

Hey, if your guitar ever leaves your house, you need a good case. And if you travel like I do, a great light, affordable case is a must. My GIbson J-200–is big (and heavy, for an acoustic). After some research and experimentation I found Gator GL Lightweight Guitar Case series. The J-200’s a jumbo model, so I use the Gator GL-Jumbo Lightweight Jumbo Acoustic Guitar Case. Only $85 street at discount music stores! But Gator also makes a dreadnought and concert sized case–and the dreadnought case is about $65.

Note: Whatever case you use, I recommend that you carry it on board when you fly if you can. I also bought a handy FRAGILE stencil and spayed the emblem on both sides of my case in dayglo yellow paint. And last, but not least, I recommend adding a little extra padding to the case around the headstock of your guitar. Try a little foam padding from a fruit shipping box… or a hand towel or T-shirt. (I don’t glue the padding in, I just put it under and over the headstock before I close the case.) Most guitar damage comes from the headstock snapping off when the case is dropped!

6. Notes from Shauna:


Tom is available to teach/coach/mentor songwriters in one-on-one sessions (in person or long distance via phone, iChat or Skype).

For more information click here or contact us for rates.

Feedback from Tom’s students and peers is consistently outstanding. He’s not only a great writer; he’s a great teacher for writers.

“Your insights and thoughts on songwriting have really opened doors for me, and your encouragement continues to mean so much.”
–Aisling Kavanaugh, IMRO Workshop, Dublin, Ireland

“Thank you for the excellent job you did for us at DBU…. Our students did not want it to end… and later asked if we could have you back for a week!”
–Terry Fansler, Ph.D., Director of Studies in Music Business, Dallas Baptist University


A “HOUSE CONCERT” is a unique way to hear Tom’s music in an intimate, personal setting. If you’d like to learn more about creating a night you and your friends will never forget, email Shauna Jamison.

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