17 Nashville Dog
Leave a message: beep: Ace, this is Jim, let’s meet at Hobo’s for lunch. Bring the guys. Beep: Ace, you old dog, you! Sneakin’ up there with your Tracy Boggs cut! Let’s write. Beep: Hey, Ace, Tracy Boggs. We’re having little thing at Wide Load tomorrow, just a get- together, hope you can make it. Your song’s doin’ us good, pardner!” Beep: Hi, Ace, it’s Amanda. Call me.” Beep: Ace you are one big ol shithead! Come by ASCAP and we’ll go out and get us a beer or nine while you’re here.” Beep: Ace, this is Sylvia Waters form Unicorn Music. Love to have a chat with you when you have a minute. Please give me call” Beep: Ace, this is Eldon Taylor from Infinity Music; let’s rap. Beep: Ace, love your song, this is Marla Gibbs from Row Dog Music, please call me. Beep: Ace, this is Tony Bullock from Humongous Music. We gotta talk, man. Beep: Ace, this is Kara. Am I supposed to be a’walkin’ Mr. Biggs while you’re here? “Beep: Hey Ace, Marvin Goodstein from Goodstein and Myers. I’d like to talk with you abut some investment opportunities. Beep: Ace, Trina Garland from Garland Realtors. Congrats on the song! I have a house I would love to show you and Sheila. It’s right down the street from Verlon Hannah’s place. A lot of successful songwriters live in the neighborhood. I know you’ll love it. Beep: Hello, Ace. This is Sapphire Talbot. We’re bringing a group to your concert and are having a little party at our house afterwards. Spence and I would like to invite all of you to come. We are such big fans! It’ll be fun; the Eaglebeats are going to play for us around the pool. Beep: Ace, this is Jolene. I have really missed you. Please call me. Beep: Ace, let’s write. Beep: Ace, let’s write sometime. Beep: Ace, how about
getting’ together to write? Beep: Ace, sorry that I didn’t call you back last year. Let’s write, man. Beep”
“Jim Roebuck, man of God!” said Ace to his chief songwriting partner in Nashville.
“Greetings, Earthlings! I have decided to grace your table today. For this blessing, I will allow you to pay for my lunch!”
“Harry, like me a Hebe! How are you?”
“Harry’s got a new squeeze. She’s Japanese.”
“Oh…a Japanese squeeze who likes to tease. Everyone would like to have one of these.”
“Especially if you’ve got songwriter’s disease.” Added Ace
“Very well done, you idiots. Her name’s Fumiko.” Harry blushed in spite of himself.
“Well, good for you, Harold! Check out that one over there.” Jim signaled with a toss of his head. “Now, that is what they call the high-priced spread.”
“It must be our age, “said Ace, “we check out women more than when we were young studs.”
“It helps that we’re now invisible. Women can’t even see us.” said Jim. “I think we’re just feeling the internal pressure of leaving the age of the possibility of sex behind. In two or three years, it’ll be completely over.”
“We’re desperate drooling old men, is that what you’re saying?”
“Speak for yourself, Ace! Actually, now that you have a hit song, you can probably get laid all over town. Maybe even by female humans!”
“Everybody’s been willing to fuck me from the get-go in this town.”
“Yes, one can get fucked here, no doubt. But they smile and call you sweetheart and partner while they’re doing it, so it doesn’t hurt so bad. Harry, you know how to tell if a Nashville songwriter is your friend?”
“He stabs you in the chest.”
Ace got dropped at his house, where he fired up his Forerunner and took a grateful Mr. Biggs to the dog run in the park. His old mutt was pretty smelly. But he was so happy to see Ace. He let Mr. Biggs run until he was tired and then took him back to the empty house.
I always hated this place. Too pretentious. The columns, the manicured yard. Sheila was all about show. She worked hard for her money, Ace gave her that, but he just thought her values were out of some box he’d never understand. How could she have changed so much? I guess I never really knew her. She was this great looking redhead who loved to have fun. He got caught up in it: all the society parties, golf at the Belle Meade country club. The Swan Ball. In Focus Magazine. Standing in some tux with a glass of wine and a phony smile for the photo. It became a sort of cushy warfare, keeping up with everyone. He watched faces and boobs sag, paunches and right-wing politics grow. He had his Music Row life, which helped, until he got dropped by Germ Publishing. Songwriter lunches, number one parties, all that stuff. He loved learning how to play to play the Bluebird Cafe, Douglas Corner. But the bloom went off the rose. He stopped being that cool rocker who wrote Here Comes the Big One and became just another of what his songwriter friend Samantha called the pod people, songwriters scrabbling to get cuts by any method. He got tired of writing songs day in and day out and never seeing any of them get cut. And he readily admitted that he was just a bit too old to play a game made for thirty year-olds.
It’s funny how things can turn around, though. All of a sudden, he was set to be the toast of the town for fifteen minutes or so, until the next song went to number one. He no longer cared about being Mr. Hot Shit. Still, he wanted the number one for the money and to be able say, stick it up your asses, you unbelievers! And no, I won’t write with you!
He looked in Molly’s room. Pink, everything in its perfect place. I’m an intruder in this life, in this house. I don’t belong here. It’s sad, but true. Molly is fated to be mommy’s little princess and follow her down this road.
He got in his Forerunner and drove to the Old Hickory Arena for soundcheck.
The gig was attended by many famous musicians, everyone from Delvin Traynor to Charlane Harmon to Waymer Hoggs. There were six hundred people at the after party at the Jackass Saloon: lots of guys in Cowboy hats and baseball caps and hundreds of the beautiful women who come to Nashville looking to become country music stars and who end up sticking around to marry doctors or music executives. The whiskey flowed like wine and the wine flowed like lite beer. The lite beer flowed in and right back out into the urinals.
There’s plenty of scenery for the superficial man, “Joked Jim Roebuck, “More boob jobs than at a plastic surgeon’s funeral.”
Ace was surrounded by writers and publishers. On the one hand, he felt that he deserved their attention. On the other, he knew them for what they were.
Tracy Boggs was there, mingling. He seemed authentic enough, telling Ace how
grateful he was to have that song and all that, until Joey Lowe was nudged by the surging throng toward where he and Ace were standing. Suddenly, Tracy was gone, spinning off into the Joey Lowe orbit. Still, Ace got a dozen cards from publishers, the same people who hadn’t returned his phone calls during the last year. When you’re hot, you’re hot! It was sickening, but fun at the same time. Harry was getting sloshed. Ace stuck Shinebone on him. Ace didn’t want Harry to do anything he’d be sorry for tomorrow. Greg Horn and Joey and Tony Riggs were in the center of a massive whirling vortex of sycophants and brown-nosers, some of whom had very nice racks. Garbage was holding a court of a different nature: young, tattooed, and pierced. He and his crowd looked like a Maori raiding party or something. He hit on Ace to write. Ace thought that would be worthwhile and said absolutely. Garbage would ride to Dallas and OK City on the bus. Ace was impressed by his demeanor and intellect. Not all rock’n’rollers are that smart; you’d be surprised, even famous ones. They’re just popular and talented, not always intellectual or well read. But Garbage was. How old was he, a couple of years older than his son? Josh should meet this guy, Ace thought.
The inner, that is to say very wealthy and happening, core of the party streamed out to Spence and Sapphire Talbot’s grand place in Bell Meade for a last blast featuring the Eaglebeats, really talented players who did a combination Eagles and Beatles shtick. Everybody joined in on the songs. The diehards were there ‘till dawn, when Sapphire had a fabulous southern breakfast buffet served on the patio under kerosene heaters.
Ace left the Talbot’s shortly after he got there and drove out to his house. He got his sleeping bag out and curled up on the old couch in the garage next to stinky Mr. Biggs.
I don’t think I’m ever going to sleep in this house again.