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Crown Royal & A Korg M-1

Updated: Mar 3

I lived with Millichamp for awhile, even though my publisher had provided me the condo at 19th Avenue South as part of my stipend. The cast of characters assembled in Gallatin, TN was way more fun for a seventeen year-old than being jailed on Music Row. It also provided for way better stories.

Millichamp had built an impressive vocal booth in the hallway next to an 8' x 8' room that he'd converted into a studio. There was a four-track Tascam cassette recorder on a table next to a Korg M-1 keyboard, and a few guitars hanging on the walls. If you knew how to operate that Korg, you could sequence all your drums, bass, and strings internally before exporting them to a single track on the Tascam. Then you still had three open tracks for acoustic instruments and vocals. It was a pretty sweet little project setup for the mid-nineties. And I got decent enough with the gear (and building arrangements around the limitations) that Millichamp started charging local songwriters for demo sessions. "I've got a whiz-kid that works for whiskey and Camel non-filters" I once overheard him tell a guy from Hendersonville. Damn right he did. I was seldom the most talented person in the room on Music Row, but I could hold my own (early on) with locals in pretty much any town. Millichamp had Camels by the carton and Crown Royal in literal gallons. And I could hold my own on those as well.

So we sold this little project studio like that for months. I'd sit up all night, tinkering with sounds, alternating between coffee and whiskey, and pounding cigarettes - and Millichamp would wake up each morning to a cloud of smoke and three new finished tunes. There was a cat living there named Jimmy Z, who was a master chef. And he'd create a masterpiece for the house every night just before I went into studio lockdown mode. We ate, drank, and shared some of the craziest stories I'd ever heard. We also shot off fireworks, set the kitchen on fire, and let the vocal booth become a space where folks slept it off by the end of that summer. But I never really used that booth anyway. I preferred doing everything from the eight foot room, where I could smoke freely and not deal with headphone extensions.

When I wasn't making music in that little room, it was filled with the sounds of Licensed to Ill, by the Beastie Boys. And if that was happening, everyone knew that I was smoking and probably brewing a 4 cup before diving back into headphones and the Korg. Stacked heads would fill the doorway like the Marx Brothers, and they'd fall into the room one by one to find a seat on the floor. We drank, smoked, and cursed like sailors. I was three months from eighteen, and hell-bent on seeing this whole "Lord Of the Flies" thing through till then. Crown Royal would soon be replaced with black coffee and herbal Jazz cigarettes, and my boxed Camels would soon grow filters. The whiz kid was about to be the whiz man.

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