"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Listen to my song re. Sam Smith, his statue

A striking monument at our Summit Cemetery: Samusl Smith
The years pass and the U.S. Civil War becomes ever more remote. We get refreshed in textbooks. We have emotional distance because our forebears fade into the mists of time.
Us Morris MN residents can feel a surprising connection to those mid-19th Century events. You might think we are too far to the West. No we are not. A stroll through Summit Cemetery can reveal for you a most striking reminder. There is one monument that will jump out at you. You will notice the "running rifleman" statue. It's the final resting place of Samuel Smith, Civil War veteran on the Union side of course.
Samuel was a significant early resident of the Morris area, a farmer. He and wife Catherine had 12 children, eleven of them boys. Thus the name has gotten passed on pretty well. You have likely crossed paths with at least one of the descendants. I believe it's important that we continue to remember the significance of the monument.
I have written a song called "Ballad of Sam Smith." It was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank (Franklin) Michels. I invite you to listen by clicking on this link from YouTube. Thanks.
Thanks to Brent Gulsvig of Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck for his wizardry getting the song online. It wasn't until about three years ago that I realized you can get music placed online with such ease. It seems like a miracle.
Frank Michels' studio is what you'd call a demo recording studio. I first had some demo recordings made in the 1980s. Back in that pre-digital age, the purpose of a demo recording was to pitch your material to a music publisher. In other words, the goal was to have the song become commercially successful. I suppose you'd want the song to end up in the proverbial "top 40." You can imagine what the odds are of this. It was very hard getting any kind of audience for your work. You'd have to play a cassette for someone.
Today the whole landscape is much different. Songs can be placed on YouTube pretty routinely, at least for someone like Mr. Gulsvig. You won't make money but you can get a fair number of people to listen to your work.
The doors have been opened just like for those who self-publish books. As a C-Span commenter put it, "the barriers to distribution have come down." Self-publishing of books has become respectable, as opposed to the days when self-publishing companies were treated almost as unethical. "You too can be an author."
Doug Rasmusson of the Morris area self-published delightful collections of his writing. It was tough getting your creative material out. Not at all today. Blogging has enabled me to feel like a legitimate writer still.
Meanwhile the legacy media crumbles. The Hancock paper is now discontinued. The free advertising shopper called "Ad-Viser" is no more. Of course, the more the newspaper company reduces its services, the faster its decline will be. I would advise everyone to just move on from the print media.
Now, how do I work with a demo recording firm? I send a package that includes a melody sheet with chords, a lyric sheet and a rough tape of me singing. I had to special order a cassette recorder because you can't even buy these things at RadioShack anymore. The Nashville people do not work with microcassette players/recorders.
The studios can get the job done surprisingly fast. Michels sends me an email with a song attachment. Bob Angello, another pro I work with, puts the song in an online "drop box." An advantage to Bob's approach is that he can make changes and adjustments right at the source and doesn't have to send me the song again.
I enjoy writing topical songs. My next one to be recorded might be about the First Minnesota Regiment in the Civil War, called "Take Those Colors." That song title is based on the abrupt order given by General Hancock on the night of the First Minnesota's fateful charge at Plum Run, Gettysburg. The First Minnesota had to plug an opening in the Union line while reserves were on the way. "Take Those Colors." Sam Smith was assigned to the ambulance corps for the Battle of Gettysburg.
Here is the link to a blog post I wrote on Sam Smith and his statue. This post is on my companion blog site, "Morris of Course."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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