So what prompted the recording of this fascinating documentary about one man?
One man who came to Nashville 25 years ago with a boat load of songwriting ideas and a sub conscious vision of having an influence on country music. Or on the recording industry for that matter…
Nashville had most certainly changed over the years and as my personal guide, historian and street companion, Vernon spent our homeless summer telling me all about country music people, the places, the recording studios on Music Row, his experiences….good and bad.
He reflected on what used to be, what once was and what no longer is…
Much has changed since the advent of the internet.
Since the proliferation of personal computers.
LP’s became cassettes…became CD’s…became downloads and unfortunately it all morphed in to file sharing…
Music became barely intangible…
Sadly, and to quote Vernon “you can’t wake up Christmas morning and find a download in your Christmas stocking….”
Illegal downloads whittled away at talented royalty cheques. They ensured that the most important people behind that awesome song you love to listen to on your Ipod, mp3 player, your laptop… is definitely not paid for his work. For his creation. For his idea.
This summer we visited the closed up studios and offices along Music Row. So many musicians, songwriters, technicians left with nothing to do but find a job, earn a paycheck, try to survive…in a rapidly changing business and city.
In Nashville, many (having come here from all over the country) wound up on the streets, their hopes and dreams of making it in the music industry vanished for good…
Vernon’s never vanished. He always believed in his music.
His songs became a dormant volcano, just waiting to erupt in popularity and figure out a way to beautifully infiltrate our technologically driven lives…
What I learned about Vernon though, is that he never lost his love of and belief in people.
Even when life had seemingly beaten him down.
Sometimes because of others, admittedly through his own faults.
His sense of humor kept him going, a constant lifeboat on a dodgy raft. One that has seen him through many a storm.
Most importantly, in my opinion he has songs to share with the world. Music that he is driven to share, with all walks of life.
He draws on his lifetime experiences, both hardships and joys and turns his emotions in to songs that we can all relate to.
His lyrics know no boundaries.
His songs are timeless pieces, more relevant today than when they were born years ago.
Stories about the hard cold life of reality,
of the changes in town when the factory closed down,
of the love we had even though our family was poor and how upon ‘looking back we were the rich kids, after all’,
of how ‘We need a lot more Jesus and a lot less of everything else’.
He currently has young artists such as Scotty McCreery, David Nail and Adam Brand recording and performing his songs.
Rising stars that weren’t even born when Vernon’s lyrics and music were conceived.
I will never forget the morning I found out Scotty McCreery was to include ‘walk in the country’ on his debut album.
The latest winner of American Idol, a young man with a rich, velvety smooth voice and stellar stage presence, wanted to sing my man’s song, a Vernon Rust song!
And sing it so well, too! I ran upstairs, where Vernon was asleep and did something I should never in a million years do, I woke him up….
“Hey, Scotty McCreery is gonna record ‘walk in the country’ for his album ‘Clear as day’”.
Sleepily,Vernon murmured and with very little excitement ‘Hmmmm, so…who is Scotty?’ ‘some local club singer?’ and then added ‘that’s good’ basically meaning ‘let me go back to sleep honey’.
I proceeded to bug him….tripping over words ABOUT how freakin’ wonderful this is, how he had better get up and BE excited! Scotty is HOT. He’s arguably the best winner, ever, of the very popular TV show.
I went on to get him up to full steam on Facebook. To re-connect him with friends from his past. Friends that very much wanted to help him with his future.
John Perkins had tried to find Vernon two years earlier by writing to him via everyone’s favourite social network.
Thankfully, John is a patient man.
He also happens to be a lifelong believer in Vernon’s music too.
with Scott Floyd Crain, Vernon Rust, John Perkins
Nashville, September 2011
photo: Helen Bird
Filming of Nashville Wild Child documentary
John Perkins, Scott Floyd Crain, Vernon Rust
Nashville September 2011
photo: Helen Bird
……to be continued