SPOTLIGHT: I Murdered Elvis by Michael Rothenberg

Today on Music Row

I saw The Evil King just in from The Big City

He’s an entertainment attorney


Andy Byrd takes me aside, in the lobby of Warner-Chapell writer’s room,

to tell me they had a staff meeting. The decision: Though I’m welcome

to keep my share of publishing rights for songs I have written

with Warner-Chapel writers, they are not interested in signing me

I cancel the day’s writing appointments. Go back to Madison Massart’s

house and vomit.

“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Jodie from BMI says. “Don’t take it as rejection. Five of seven writers I work with aren’t getting deals renewed.”

He says, “The way it used to be, was publishers had three tiers of writers: Top Guns, Up and Comers, and Newcomers. Each tier working off the other, refreshing the ranks.

That’s how it was until five years ago. Now they only sign Top Guns. And some Top Guns do their own publishing ’cause they’re tired of dealing with publishers.”

            Ill have to refigure my time frame for success


I buy a second-hand guitar, a 20 year old Guild, mahogany red top

Don’t know how to play it, but I’m gonna learn

                                    O, poets guitar!

Gonna eat homemade noodles and sing the blues

                        From Nashville to California

                        From London to Ukraine

                        Ive seen those sunny days

                        And Ive seen, icy rain

                                    Oh, my guitar!

Power outage

Another ice storm

Last night Nashville skyline flashed green

In retrospect:

Nashville’s brand of southern

hospitality is patronizing

They say, I’m wonderfully brilliant

Then they pick my pockets

and steal my shoes

When I first came ashore,

a starry-eyed gambler, I said,

“Nashville’s the only American city

that respects the writer.” I was wrong

Nowhere in America respects the writer

The writer is obsolete

Dream Dealers wire our brains

and dole out prefab hypnotic beats

on Monopoly Radio

That song they want, is a song they already now

If they know it already, it must be great

“That’s artistic genius!” They say

“I killed Tin Pan Alley”

Bob Dylan couldn’t have known

what he said

Pop culture as art is an illusion

The poet is in exile

Will I ever wake up?

Icy fingers, runny nose
This might be the world, who knows?

                        Oh play, guitar!


                        Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,

                        To be stuck outside of Mobile

                        With the Memphis blues again

                                                — Bob Dylan

            Plan Z:

            1)  Watch the sun come up

            2)  Move out of Madison Massart’s house in 5 days

            3)  Catch up with Dolly Jones at Rotier’s

            4)  Call Great Cumberland/ MCA/ Starcatcher publishers

5)  Pitch a song to an A & R Lady at MCA

6)  Meet Jim Sherradan at Hatch Show Prints

            7)  Write with Philip Russell, Dennis Knutson, Judd Erickson,

            Lee Bach, Tommy Lee and Michael Woody

            8)  Look for folks in San Francisco to write songs with

            9)  Work on The Drums of Grace

            10) Continue research on Langston Hughes, the famous songwriter

            11) Watch the sun set when that time comes

            and don’t think about becoming anymore


Massart’s getting divorced

            Selling his house

            I have nowhere to go

            Dolly Jones’ offers me

            her penthouse on the West End

            I am thrilled and grateful

When I arrive at the penthouse

            The toilet is on the floor

            Plaster peeling off the walls

            A stained mattress droops on the decomposing carpet

            I call Dolly, polite but freaked out

            “I told you it wasn’t fixed up,” she says

            I watch a red sunset from the penthouse balcony

            Somebody must have died here

            Full moon

            Full moon

            I’m leaving this crazy mess


You dont know what youre doing! You could make it!

                                    Thank you, Mr. Asshole

                                    Now if you don’t mind get off my shoelaces

                                                Ya wanna be star don’t ya?


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