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Tywanna Jo Baskette

A Conversation with Tywanna Jo Baskette (continued)

PM: So when would you say, in your life, growing up in this town of writers and players, when did you start bumping into people who played music or wrote music that you might later find influence from? When did you start rubbing shoulders with those kinds of people?

TJB: People that I think influenced me?

PM: Or just people who were involved with music or the arts in any way. Because dancing was a part of your life from an early age, wasn't it?

TJB: That's true. Do you want me to talk about that?

PM: Yeah, let's talk about that.

TJB: Okay. I took ballet from the age of five to fifteen, which is eleven years. And then on NPR I said fifteen years, because I thought the age fifteen--

PM: Right.

TJB: So I said fifteen, so I lied on the radio.

PM: Oh, well.

TJB: But who cares, right?

PM: Yeah. And now we've corrected it in print.

TJB: Anyway, it's eleven. And anyway, then my teacher died. She committed suicide because her husband was cheating on her. And it killed me, you know, because it was such a big part of my life.

PM: And she was a really good friend, too?

TJB: Yes. She was a beautiful person.

PM: And so when she died, of course it was a crushing blow, but did you turn to something else to kind of fill that gap? Some other artistic pursuit or something?

TJB: I started writing a lot of poetry, I guess, about that time, lots and lots of poetry. And I'd win little women's club poetry contests when I was a kid.

PM: Would they have the contests in schools or outside of school?

TJB: They were usually by counties, like Davidson County Women's Club Poetry, or whatever.

PM: And would there be a cool prize?

TJB: Getting your name in the paper. It seemed like you get a ribbon or something. I don't remember. I'm sure I have it in my box downstairs that I've got taped up.

PM: So the ballet led to the untimely tragic death of your mentor, and then led to a writing period. When did other elements, say musical elements or other artistic elements, start to enter your sphere after that? Because you seem to have known or know a lot of musicians, and later got into the whole realm of modeling and film--or video. How did all that start to happen? Is that too big a question?

TJB: I don't know.

PM: Well, okay, you went from the ballet period to some writing, and at that point you're in your mid teens.

TJB: Oh, and I always listened to those Walt Disney Storybook Records. I loved those. When I was a kid I'd spend hours going over them. You know the sing-along storybooks?

PM: Wow. I don't think they were part of my childhood. Like what?

TJB: Like all of them. Like Pinnochio, Snow White, and Cinderella. Mary Poppins.

PM: I grew up with so many brothers that that wasn't a thing in my house.

TJB: As you know, in my "Pinky" song, there's "Someday my prince will come."

PM: Yeah.

TJB: But I sing it differently. But that's from something. It's either Cinderella or Snow White. I'm not sure.

PM: Well, while we're mentioning "Pinky," that was one of the co-written songs on the record, written with Bobby Bare, Jr. Is that the single?

TJB: I don't really think they're going to do specific singles. They're probably going to like strongly suggest you play blah, blah. I'm not really sure they necessarily do singles on a small budget.

PM: Yeah. In the production value category, it seemed to get the single treatment, but maybe that's just what the song called for. It had a little bit different groove in it.

TJB: Yeah. Plus I wanted it more rock 'n' roll. That's why I wanted to write it with Bobby. I started writing it, actually, at Sweet Tea, during the recording. And then I decided I wanted it to be more rock 'n' roll, and I couldn't come up with a melody that I liked. And Bobby had been wanting to co-write, so I called him. And it was a really fast thing.

PM: So that's got some really cool chords. Did he come up with some of those twists and turns, or did he take them all right from the melody?

TJB: He would play da, da da da, da da da, and I just started singing. Is that what you mean?

PM: Right. So, yeah, he probably just listened to your melody and said, "Oh, this is that weird chord right here." Because it's got some very unusual changes that really stand it out. It's cool as hell.

TJB: Well, probably Clay did that, then, maybe. I don't know. I don't know anything about music. I don't know. [laughs]

PM: For a person who doesn't know anything about music, it's a damn good record.

TJB: Thank you. You know what I mean. Like I can't read music, I can't play anything.

PM: Do you want to?

TJB: I wish I could play piano, but it's a dream. I like to bang around on the piano and mess around with it, and see what I can come up with. And sometimes it's really beautiful, and I have to go get my tape recorder. I have a Wurlitzer [a classic electric piano] but it won't turn on.

PM: You have a Wurlitzer? I really want to buy one. I was just going to say, "You need a Wurlitzer." But it's me that really needs one.

TJB: Yeah. When I broke up with Rusty years and years ago, I had a classical guitar that I couldn't figure out, so I gave him that, and he gave me this.

PM: That was a good swap.

TJB: Yeah. [laughs]

PM: But it doesn't work?

TJB: No, because it's set up to go through monitors or something. I don't have those.

PM: Oh, it's not one of those with the little speaker in it.

TJB: Yeah, it has that, but it was in a recording studio. Like it was used on Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville." All these big records, Dobie Gray.

PM: Wow.

TJB: I have this information written down somewhere. [laughs] It belonged to David Briggs [a Nashville studio legend], I think. It was at Quadrophonics.

PM: It belonged to David Briggs!? [laughs]

TJB: Yeah. And then it was Rusty's. That's all I can remember. I don't know.

PM: Can I ask Rusty who?

TJB: Rusty Golden.

PM: Was he one of the Goldens? [a big country rock group]

TJB: Yeah. But this is not important, okay? It's a long time ago.

PM: Yeah.

TJB: And he'd always--like he'd be playing some gospel song on the piano. He's a really good piano player. And then I'd start singing along, and he'd say, "Will you shut up? You are ruining the song."


TJB: He couldn't stand my voice. And then I had him sign this thing. It's somewhere here--oh, I'll read it to you. "You have a really good and distinct vocal style. You have great pitch." Rusty, March 14th, 2001.


TJB: He wrote that because he listened to my song and he said that. And I said, "You have to write that in my book because you used to tell me to shut up when I was singing to your songs."

PM: Oh, that's funny.

TJB: I know.

PM: So you decided to write "Pinky" with Bobby Bare. And so you went over to his place or he came over to yours? I'm interested in so how did it go down kind of a thing.

TJB: He came over here and he brought his guitar. And he started playing da, da da da, da da...


TJB: And then I just started singing because I already had a lot of the lines, you know.

PM: Did he contribute some words too?

TJB: Yeah. I said, "So how can I say about how they were married, and then she died?" And he said, "They were married till he buried, married and buried Pinky." And I said, "Oh, yes."


TJB: That was a great contribution, because it's so simple and so right.

PM: He's a brainy guy, huh? Or maybe that's the wrong word. He's a talented guy.

TJB: Yeah. Let's talk about something different. [laughs]  

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