News Column

Jim Parker to bring singing talent to town

August 21, 2014

By Catherine Godbey, The Decatur Daily, Ala.



Aug. 21--As the sound of a soulful clarinet spilled out of his grandmother's Victrola, Jim Parker's love affair with music began.

"My first visceral memory of music is listening to 'Rhapsody in Blue' by George Gershwin. I think I was 10 or 11 at the time. The hair on my arms stands up when I think about it. It was so intense," said Parker.

Parker's passion for music took him around the country, from California to Tennessee as he performed with bands called The Illusions, The Kitchen Cinq and The Y'alls.

When Parker landed a day job as a real estate broker, he continued to play.

"I never stopped creating. Music is my rescue. It's my therapy. It's my everything," the 71-year-old Madison resident said.

Parker currently hosts a songwriter series in a style reminiscent of Nashville'sBluebird Cafe. After decades of playing rhythm and blues, rock and roll and acid rock, Parker now writes music that appeals more to the soul than the body.

"As I matured, my lyrics became a little bit more defined and important to an individual's life studies as opposed to their action studies," Parker said. "I play to the baby boomers. They like to sit and listen to the words and relate to the lyrics. Their music is from the waist up. Music of the younger folks is from the waist down."

Tonight, Jim Parker's Songwriter Series, a mainstay at the Von Braun Center for the past decade, will come to Decatur'sThe Magnolia Room.

Parker will take the stage with hit songwriters Wood Newton and Jim Sales at 7 p.m. Newton wrote The Oak Ridge Boys' "Bobbie Sue" and Kenny Rogers' "Twenty Years Ago." Sales penned the hits "I Wonder Where We'd Be Tonight" for Vern Gosdin and "Tonight We're Gonna Tear Down the Walls" for Randy Travis.

"I like to put teams together who interact well together, know each other's banter somewhat and can play off each other," Parker said. "We will make you cry and we will make you laugh. It will be a party."

Tickets to the event cost $10.

Plugged-In with Parker

When did you start playing?

Jimmy (Gilmer) was trying to teach my sister how to play "Peter Gunn" (theme song) one day in her room. I picked up the guitar and started playing it. He said, "Oh, wow, that was pretty good." A couple of weeks later he gave me an old Silvertone guitar with no strings. The neck was as big as a two-by-four and the bridge was so high you couldn't hardly make the strings go to the neck. I played until my fingers bled because I loved it so much. Within three months of learning two chords, I joined a band and was taught a third chord.

(Note: Jimmy Gilmer performed with The Fireballs, who produced the hits "Sugar Shack," "Daisy Petal Pickin' " and "Bottle of Wine.")

How did you know Jimmy?

Jimmy dated my sister. Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs were very successful. He drove a Stingray Corvette, that's how I knew he was successful.

When did you consider pursuing music professionally?

When I was playing and someone forced me to sing. I played and sang and they clapped. I thought, "They have no clue what talent is. I think this could be easy." I was so wrong. Failure is a part of success. You have to fail in order to succeed and if you're lucky and keep at it, you may fall forward.

What do you love most about what you do?

Writing is my greatest joy and the hardest job. Being simple and not being simple minded is difficult. You overanalyze things. You want to write something that's important. What you need to do is write down what's in your heart. Sit down, shut up and put it down. But no, we feel like we need to have a message.

Do you have a favorite song you've written?

The latest is the greatest. Now, the song that's made me the most money is "Chicken Truck" and that's certainly not the most intellectual song I've written. "He'll Find Peace" is a song about veterans killing themselves. It looks at the issue with understanding and love.

What inspires your songs?

I like to write stuff that's not in the mainstream. That's not what songwriting is about. It's not to try to write songs for Alan Jackson. It's not to try to write songs for Toby Keith. It's about writing what's in your heart and if it works for one of those artists, then so be it.

Catherine Godbey can be reached at 256-340-2441 or cgodbey@decaturdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @DecaturLiving.

If you go

What: Jim Parker's Songwriter Series with Jim Parker, Wood Newton and Jim Sales

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: The Magnolia Room, 216 Moulton St., Decatur

Cost: $10

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(c)2014 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

Visit The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.) at www.decaturdaily.com

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Source: Decatur Daily (AL)


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