After Lu Mitchell, the second full bore songwriter I got to know was Steve Gillette.
One evening at a Kerrville Music Festival in the Texas Hill Country, I was attempting to play the blues around a campfire about midnight.
There were two other musicians around the fire who were putting in the most wonderful licks and fills as I sang and played my guitar. One I recognized. It was Josh White Jr., the son of one of my childhood idols and superb performer in his own right. The other, it turned out, was Steve. We ended up at a number of the same blues campfires that week.
A year or so later, I took a songwriters’ three day workshop at another Kerrville Festival, with quite a great faculty: the late Bob Gibson, Tom Paxton, Jon Ims (She’s In Love With the Boy) and Steve.
Every now and then I still run into him (it’s been quire a few years now) at house concerts, etc. For those songwriters who might be reading this, Steve told an interesting story at that workshop:
He and Tom Campbell wrote Darcy Farrow back in 1965 based on a horse accident that happened to Steve’s sister. Late one night, John Denver was finishing an album, and ended the session by cutting Darcy Farrow (yes, they actually cut grooves into a master disk to make vinyl records those days). Normally his people would have already tied up the rights to the song, but in this case, that hadn’t happened because Denver added it to the album as a last minute change.
So, when Denver’s people asked to share the publishing rights to the song, Tom and Steve turned them down. They had formed their own publishing company, and felt pretty good about being in the driver’s seat, thereby keeping 100% of the publisher’s rights (and earnings). The song made them some great money.
However, while there were myriad John Denver compilation albums issued over the next three decades, somehow Darcy Farrow never made onto a single one. And therefore generated no additional earnings from Denver’s cover of the song, shared or otherwise.
Moral of the story: 100% of nothing is nothing.
Check him out. You’ll love him and his wonderfully talented wife Cindy Mangsen – their site is here.