Last Updated 27th November 1999
It's hard to know where to start. About two years ago now I started these 'Paul Williams Music and Acting' web pages dedicated to one of my favourite singer/songwriters. Little did I realise, or hope, that within the next two years I would have both had the opportunity to be involved in helping to set up the "Paul Williams Connection" as well as be corresponding with Paul himself. (The Connection later closed down in September 2002 after 4 years) Earlier this month one of my dreams came true in that I had the opportunity of meeting up with Paul whilst he was in Dublin, Ireland, writing songs with fellow US and Irish songwriters.
The event, organised by the 'Irish Music Rights Organisation', was an opportunity for both sets of songwriters to spend time together writing songs in different combinations. Amongst the songwriters from the US were Alan Rich, Johnny Rivers, Randy Sharpe, Marsha Melman, Ellen Shipley and Alan Scott who had organised the event. The Irish songwriters included Eleanor McEvoy, Juliet Turner, Liam Riley and Rob Book
My wife Ann and I arrived in Dublin on the Sunday anxious about how / when we would be able to make our first contact with Paul. Looking back on it, it started a bit like a farce. We would try to contact Paul - he had just left his hotel. He would get back in and we had just gone out. Eventually we made contact and arranged to meet up with Paul for an evening meal.
We walked and talked about ourselves
After initially fearing that he would not be able to write again without 'stimulants' he now realises that he wrote such great songs in the past 'despite' rather than 'because' of his substance use. What came over is that Paul very much believes in living a day at a time and that whatever happens we can turn into a positive learning experience. Hearing Paul talk about his beliefs, which concur very much with my own, made me marvel how people can have such different life experiences and yet share many common sets of beliefs that they run their lives by.
Paul mentioned that the song he had written for the Ally McBeal show, with Jon Vezner, called I Know Him By Heart (Java 'PopUp Lyrics' here), had now been released on the latest compilation of songs from Ally McBeal. (It is sung by Vonda Shepard. The album is called 'Heart And Soul: New Songs From Ally McBeal Featuring Vonda Shepard (Television Series)' and is available from Amazon.com here). It's such a beautiful ballad - in my opinion one of the best Paul has written and it captures the feel of Ally McBeal so well.
After an exhilarating and exhausting day we dropped Paul off at his hotel and went to a concert given by a British singer / songwriter called John Martyn. Although John can be temperamental at times he put on a great show to end a birthday I will never forget.
The whole visit had been such a wonderful experience. Paul was such a wonderful man, very warm and loved giving and getting hugs. (I miss that in British men). I went away feeling that I had enhanced my admiration for this man and his talents but better still had found a new friend.
Last Updated 3rd October 2000
Over the first weekend of September 2000 the "Paul Williams Connection" (The Connection later closed down in September 2002 after 4 years) held it's first 'Meet' in Nashville with Paul playing an active part in the whole proceedings. Not only did he attend many of the events but also, along with his pianist and friend Chris Caswell, performed many of his songs, both old and new at the meet. Paul also took part in a concert at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville along with fellow musicians Gene Nelson, Jim Robinson & Paul Jefferson. Money raised over the weekend of the meet (including at the Bluebird) went towards the 'Community High School' in Nashville. The school aims to provide a supportive environment for students pursuing a high school diploma and dedicated to their recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions . The whole weekend was a great success.
From my point of view the bigggg disappointment was that, due to having to have a hip operation the week before the meet, I was unable to make Nashville. When I first realized the clash of dates I thought my chance to meet Paul this year had gone. Despite Paul's reassurances that 'things would work out' I was really fed up.
I should have listened to Paul....the wise old sage that he is.....within weeks Paul informed me that he had been asked to take part in a series of Charity Golfing Tournaments here in the UK the week after the meet. The tournaments were in aid of charities such as the 'Children's Society and the 'National Society for the Prevention of Crualty to Children' (N.S.P.C.C.). (I used to work for the N.S.P.C.C. for many years...it's a small world). The exciting news was that one of the venues was near the City of Chester in the North West of England about 1 hours drive from my home. It was arranged therefore that my wife Ann and I would meet up with Paul on one of the days Paul was not playing golf.
The following is an account of the wonderful time we spent together with the many surprises whichunraveled over the next two days. You can also see my 'PAUL WILLIAMS THE CHESTER VISIT PICTURE GALLERY ' here
Wednesday 13 September 2000
Ann and I left home with some anxiety about whether we would have enough petrol for the days activities as the UK was in the grip of petrol blockades so that nearly all garages were closed. Having managed to find a garage open on the way we arrived at the Carden Park Hotel, where Paul was staying, in good spirits with a full tank of petrol.
Although Paul and I had had some discussions about us showing them around some of the beautiful countryside of Wales, these plans soon changed on our arrival. (I've always found thatflexibility around Paul can be helpful...and fun to see where it leads....!!) Paul and his wife Hildy wanted to go to the nearby City of Chester. Also one of the other guests on the golf tour wanted a ride to Chester as there was no taxi due to the petrol shortage.....As Ann and I were happy to go with that plan we were introduced to the other 'guest'...none other than Richard Roundtree who had played the original 'Shaft' back in the 1970's. It turned out to be a real bonus, as Richard is a great guy. It was interesting to hear him talk about the new version of Shaft, in which he makes an appearance, as well as the support he gives to men who suffer Breast Cancer, something which Richard suffered from a few years back. Paul talked about the 'irony' of how a person who played such a 'macho' character like Shaft, should suffer from a disease which is generally associated with women. In publicizing the fact that he has had Breast Cancer, Richard has been able to allow men to both watch out for it and 'own' up to it without feeling less 'manly'.
We therefore started our tour of Chester by walking round the City walls. Chester is an old Tudor City surrounded by a wall, with a large Cathedral and with wonderful shops on two layers with black and white timbered facades.
As we walked Paul talked about the wonderful experiences he had had at the recent visit to Nashville meet where he met many Fans. He was moved by the warm welcome everyone had given him and Chris Caswell. Paul also talked excitedly about his work in promoting alcohol and drug related charities through awareness raising and fund-raising activities.
For me walking round the walls was rather a 'challenge' being that I was walking with two crutches. Everyone was very patient with me.
After looking round the shops we toured the Cathedral and had lunch in a local hotel. Over lunch Paul and Richard, who did not know each other before this trip, exchanged stories about the 'rich and famous' they had worked with. As an outsider it was fascinating to hear them talking about these people in such an ordinary way. I had to keep reminding myself that although these were people I had only read about or seen in the movies, these were people that Paul and Richard lived amongst and so it was like me talking about someone I work with...although my friends are not quite so famous!!!
After a very full day we returned to Paul's hotel for afternoon tea (well are were in England!!). Over tea Paul gave me some 'goodies' he had brought me from the Nashville meet including the meet tee-shirt, the bag in which all the meet goodies were kept along with a wonderful 'Do Not Disturb - Paul Williams Fans Sleeping' notice, which Paul signed for me "To my brother David - sleep well!! Love from a matching heart - Paul Williams".
Thursday 14 September 2000
The next day we arrived at the hotel very excited about what was in store that evening. After checking into our hotelroom, and changing for the evening we met up with Paul. Before going for dinner I gave Paul an MP3 CD I had made up of all his albums and talked about a concert he had given in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1980. (See Analia's and Paul's memories of the concert here. ) Paul also informed us that his manager had phoned him the previous evening to say that a small tour was being arranged for Paul and his band to perform again in South America. Paul seemed both excited and apprehensive about this, as it would be his first performance tour for many years. (For full details of the shows go here)
The guests at the dinner included bothcelebrities from the US and UK who had taken part in the days golfing in aid of the 'Children's Society'. Ann and I sat at a table with Paul along with an English folk singer / entertainer, Steve Womack, and his wife and a guy who is a singer with the English folk group the Houghton Weavers and his wife.
The rest of the evening was taken up with a show put on by the UK celebrities, along with Rex Meredith from the US. Gil Gerard did a wonderful job as compere, he has a very quick sense of humour. There were performances from The Houghton Weavers, Steve Womack, John Miles and comedian Stan Boardman amongst others. There was also a nice rendition of Evergreen by a UK female singer (whose name I can not remember unfortunately). She dedicated it to Paul...I for one felt it was very brave to sing a song whose writer is in the audience!!! It was a lovely evenings entertainment although unfortunately Paul himself did not perform.
So after a very satisfying evening Ann and I retired to bed, very glad that Paul's hosts had kindly arranged for us to stay over night so avoiding the prospect of an hours drive home at mid-night.
The following morning after breakfast...which Paul kindly fetched for me from the buffet bar (being on crutches does have some advantages!!), we said our sad good-byes to Paul and the rest of their party as they left to fly over to Belfast for another Charity Golf Tournament. Ann and I then made our way home having had a wonderful two days full of surprises.
Although I will remember the two days for a long time to come, I find it interesting to reflect on what was the most memorable part of the two days. I guess for me it is the time spent one to one just chatting with Paul and sharing our personal hopes and fears. I have an over-riding memory of sitting with Paul in Marks & Spencer's Department store, whilst Ann and the others were shopping in the store, talking about Paul's hopes and fears about turning 60 the following week. I think what I find so wonderful about being around Paul is his open-ness and willingness to show his feelings whether in talking in a one to one setting, or in the words he writes for those wonderful songs of his.
I would really like to thank Paul for being so welcoming and helping to make it a memorable two days for Ann and I.
If you would like to see more pictures from my two days with Paul take a look at my 'PAUL WILLIAMS THE CHESTER VISIT PICTURE GALLERY ' here
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Email me, David Chamberlayne, at:Davidswebpages@paulwilliams.co.uk
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