“I’ve certainly been blessed in my life
with a lot of good friends.” - Kacey Jones
By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
(This article was printed in the March / April 2015 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)
She can not remember the exact day that they first met. But, she will always cherish the time that they spent together. Childish games of house and school brought so much joy to each other. As teens, it was talk of boys and sex that brought fits of giggles. But a simple and unimportant argument caused the break up of a seventeen year friendship. For the past twenty-five years, all she has wanted to do was say “I’m sorry” to an old friend.
He received a box from his mother just last week. He has been too busy to open it up and see what she has sent him. The box greets him as he walks in to his apartment after a long day at work. The time is now. He sheds his coat, grabs the box and brings it into his living room. He sits down on his favorite chair and begins to open the box. Inside, he finds tissue paper. Gently he pulls away the tissue paper to reveal a teddy bear. The bear has seen better days, for it is warn and is missing an eye. His heart fills with love as a flood of memories rush through his mind’s eye. Together, they have been on some wild adventures. He smiles as he lifts the bear out of the box. “Hello, old friend.”
There she sits in a little church in the middle of no where. But that is what he wanted. She remembers it like it was just yesterday. She walked into the room and there he was. His smile was friendly, gentle and infectious. It wasn’t love at first sight, no, he was married. They were friends, more than friends. Some how, they both knew what each other was thinking. Which made the two of them work so well together. Together they laughed and cried as they wrote song after song. Five funerals in fourteen months has taken it’s toll on her, as today she says goodbye to an old friend.
Old friends. That is what life is all about. It’s not about your possessions, how big your house is and how much money you have. It’s all about the people whom you meet in your life and how you treat them.
No one knows that better than Country Music singer, song writer and comedian Kacey Jones. We first introduced you to our old friend Kacey in 2009, when she released her comedic album Donald Trump’s Hair. However, many of you have already been introduced to Kacey through the various songs that she has written, which were recorded by some of Country Music’s most talented artists.
In spring of 2014, Kacey released her latest album called Amen For Old Friends.
“It’s a little different from some of my other albums and the fact that it’s not just a ha...ha... funny album.” tells Kacey Jones. “I always put at least one ballad on every album. I started out think that the name of this album was going to be I Swear I Got The Blues And Nothing But The Blues, because I’ve been wanting to do a Blues album for my whole life. I co-wrote that song [“I Swear I Got The Blues”] with one of my closest friends and most frequent co-writer, Rich Fagan and his wife Rosie, who’s only been married too for about three years now. He and I have written a lot of songs together.”
“The reason I finally got off my butt and did a new album was because Rich had been diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. I’m happy to report that he’s okay now, that he seems to be in remission. But it was the impetus to get me moving. Because of the other two co-writes with them, ‘I Feel A Sin Comin’ On’ and ‘One Click Away,’ started out being bluesy;” shares Jones. “I thought that this would be a great Blues album. Then I started thinking about some other people who were either in some serious health situations or friends and writers that I had recently lost. For example Chuck McCabe who wrote ‘That’s What I Like About My Baby.’ One of my oldest friends from California who passed away a couple years ago from pancreatic cancer, probably the best song writer you never heard of. I could do a whole album of Chuck McCabe songs, that’s how good he is. He’s just an incredible song writer. Any way, got me to thinking about friends. I’ve certainly been blessed in my life with a lot of good friends.”
Kacey set out to compile an album filled with songs that were written and or co-wrote by her and some of her closest friends. The end result is more of a recollection or memory book filled with reminiscences and voices from the past.
The cover of the album comes from painter and songwriter friend named Russell Brutsche. Based out of Santa Cruz, California, Brutsche is known for his sense of magical realism.
“There’s an interesting story about the cover photo. The painting, was painted by one of my oldest friends who’s name is Russell Brutsche. He has become quite a famous painter out in California. His paintings are in galleries all over the United States. He does such beautiful work. He was the very first guy I had ever sang with back in the late ‘60’s. He was my very first duet partner. He taught me so much. He taught me all the Bob Dylan songs. He introduced me to Richie Havens. He was very instrumental in my musical education.” shares Jones. “About a year and a half ago, I called him up and said ‘Hey Russ, I was thinking about maybe using one of your paintings for my album cover.’ I told him what the album was about. And I said ‘How much would that cost?’ He said ‘Well a guy just used another one of my paintings for a book cover and he paid me five thousand.’ I said ‘Hmm...How about if I record one of your songs instead?’ And he said ‘I’ll take that deal!’”
Kacey designed the inside cover and booklet with pride and honor as she dedicates the album to ‘old friends’ who have passed on. She also takes the time to promote those who have helped in production of the album. But most of all she includes a special thanks with a quote “Old friends, old friends, they are shelter in the wind... thank God for old friends” as she lists the names of her dear friends.
As for the music on this album, it’s best to address each song as an old friend rather than a song. For songs do become old friends as they prompt memories lost and since forgotten of times gone by.
The album opens with “You’ve Tried The Patience Out of Me,” written by Kacey and her friend Denise Stiff.
“One of the other old friend songs on there is one that I had never recorded before, but, I always thought it was worthy of recording, it just never made the cut on any album was ‘You’ve Tried The Patience Out of Me.’” shares Jones. “That song I wrote, I believe around ‘83 with Denise Stiff. Who ended up becoming quite well known as the manager of Alison Krauss. During the time when Alison Krauss won all those Grammys is when Denise Stiff was Alison’s manager at that time. You can imagine how surprised Denise was when I called her and said ‘I’ve just recorded that song we wrote.’ She hasn’t been writing songs for the last twenty years!”
This song captures the essence of 1980’s music, while it speaks about running out of patience with someone and their lies.
The album continues with a duet with good friend Waylon Payne, called “Goin’ Down Hill,” written by X Lincoln and John Anderson.
“X Lincoln was a dear friend of mine and we lost him last year.” shares Kacey. “He died of cancer. Waylon was also a good friend of X Lincoln. He and I got together. We knew that X was on his way out. God bless him. He was funny and cheerful all the way up to the very end. We said man, wouldn’t it be so cool to get this recorded while he’s still alive and can still hear it! We did, we got it mixed and mastered in just about the nick of time; about a month or so before he passed. He got to hear it and he was thrilled.”
Performed in a fun country swing style feel to it, this one takes a new approach to falling in love. The combination of Waylon and Kacey is nice as they compliment each other very well.
The third ‘old friend’ is one that many of us have heard before. On January 28, 1985, Mickey Gilley recorded and released “I’m The One Mama Warned You About” on his Too Good To Stop Now album. Written by Kacey and Mickey James, this one is sure prompt old memories.
As stated before, Kacey had originally considered the next old friend, “I Swear I Got The Blues,” as the title cut of this album. It’s genius how Jones, Rich Fagan and Rose Fagan are able to take everyday life events like courtroom proceedings and mix them with the events of a dealing with a broken heart as they did in this unique song.
This brings us to a song written by Kacey’s oldest friends Chuck McCabe. “That’s What I Like About My Baby,” is a beautiful country blues ballad that Kacey brings to life with her beautiful and soulful vocals.
The sixth old friend on this album is another written by Rich Fagan, Doug Gilmore and Ed Hunnicutt. Performed in a Everly Brothers feel, Rich lends his vocals in “Tell Me Why.”
“One of the songs that I’m glad I finally got a chance to give a decent recording too is the ballad ‘We’re All In This Alone.’” shares Kacey. “Which I personally think is one of the best songs that I’ve ever written. But, it just hasn’t gotten cut by anybody else yet. So, I’m hoping maybe somebody will hear it on this album, now that I have a good demo of it, with my own version. I think that song has a lot to say. It was one that I wrote with an old friend, Doug Gill.”
This heartfelt ballad contains a very memorable chorus. If she were not retired, I can certainly hear Barbara Mandrell record this. However, Kacey hopes that this song is brought to radio by Kenny Chesney.
Kacey does include one comedic style song on this heartfelt album about old friends with “One Click Away.”
“I have a dear friend named Leslie Rouffe.” shares Kacey. “Leslie was working with some other animal rescue people here in town. She got very frustrated one day with one of the volunteers there. She was getting ready to send this very angry e-mail. Fortunately I happened to be there before she pushed send. I said ‘You don’t want to send that!’ She said ‘Why?’ And I said ‘’Cause you’re one click away from making an ass of yourself. Of course I couldn’t say ass on the song. She said ‘yeah you’re right.’ So I saved her from clicking the button. I took that idea a couple days later over to Rich and Rose Fagan. We wrote it in one day.”
“One Click Away” is one that is sure to become an anthem for offices world wide. Performed in a sort of Jazz feel, this one is sure to bring a smile. This is one of three songs from this album that will hit our list of Top Song while earning a nomination for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year Award.
The next old friend found on this album is one that you may have heard before. Kacey’s song “Cold Turkey” was recorded by David Allan Coe in 1987.
The second song to hit our list of Top Songs of 2015 and earn a nomination for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year Award is “There’s A Song In There Somewhere.”
“That song was written by one of my old friends named Larry Book and a newer friend, that he co-wrote it with, named Rusty Budde.” shares Kacey. “I had heard Larry perform that song several years ago at a festival or something that we were at. I said ‘Don’t be surprised if I come to you one of these days and ask you for a license for that song, ‘cause I sure do like it.’ I was so thrilled, because my cut of his song is the first cut he’s had by someone besides himself. That was a real thrill for me to put that smile on his face.”
This is a beautiful ballad that contains a gentle melody that is brought to life with a great story found in the lyrics.
The album continues with Russell Brutsche’s song “Climbed A Hill.”
“Those hills that you see on the cover photo, that’s the hills that he [Russell Brutsche] was thinking about when he wrote that song.” shares Jones. “Those are the hills of Big Sur in California.”
The album continues with another song that Kacey co-wrote with Rich and Rose Fagon with “I Feel A Sin Comin’ On.”
“There’s another person represented on there that is still alive but has been suffering for many years and that’s Freddy Powers. He has Parkinson’s disease.” tells Kacey.
Freddy Powers is no stranger to country music. His name stands alongside some of country music’s most beautiful classics that were recorded by Merle Haggard, Ray Charles and George Jones.
Kacey pays tribute to her old friend, Freddy, by recording his song “Free At Last.”
“That’s one of my favorite tracks on this album.” continues Kacey. “Freddy and I became friends as a result of the tribute to Mickey Newbury. I adore Freddy. He’s just a sweetheart. He can’t even talk any more hardly because he so rot with Parkinson’s. During the time I recorded that, Freddy and Cathrine were staying at a friends house down the street from me. I went down there to play him the rough mix and got the best approval I could have. He wasn’t able to speak with me. But he had just a tear coming down his cheek and pointed his thumbs up!”
The album closes with the final song that we have taken to hit our list of Top Songs of 2015, while earning a nomination for the Spirit Award’s Song of The Year Award. Kacey Jones brings this album full circle as she closes out this ‘book’ of memories with “Old Friends.” This song is a beautiful, heartfelt ballad that contains a strong message about cherishing friends that rides upon it’s gentle melody.
In the end this album contains many stories that ride upon the notes and melodies of each of the songs within. Kacey is truly a good friend, as she does not steel the spotlight that is upon this album, but shares it with those who had a part in it. For she is just the messenger, or better yet, the author of a book of memories shared by old friends.
Unlike the photo albums that sit upon a shelf in our homes, this one begs the listener to take it down, leave it open and listen to it time and time again.
(This is the last known recording by Ms. Kacey Jones. Kacey passed away on September 1, 2016.)
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