It happens sometimes.
You think you are writing about onething, and then, pondering more intensely, it turns out it’s about something else. Not that the first thing was wrong. It’s that the second thing is just truer.
Clarifying example to follow.
I am watching an episode of Lawman(1958-1962) on The Westerns Channel. Lawmanis a marginally better-than-average example of a genre Varietydismissively labels an “oater.” As a kid, I made no qualitative distinctions. There was a gun and a horse? – “Saddle Up!”
Numerous years later, I feel exactly the same way.
One thing, however, is detectably special about Lawman.
It’s theme song.
Specifically, the first half of the second verse. Which is sensational.
The first verse, you would call, “serviceable”, offering no hint of the creative wizardry to come.
“The lawman came with the sun
There was a job to be done
And so they sent for the badge and the gun
Of the lawman.”
It’s fine. It establishes the tone. But then, it surprisingly “takes off.”
Listen to this.
“And as he silently rode
Where evil violently flowed…”
Can you believe that?
“… silently rode…” “… violently flowed”?
This was “exemplary workmanship.” No “It’s only a western.” Or the seeming “There’s the lyrics; where’s the money?” attitude of Yancey Derringer’s
“In every tale of derring-do
They tell of Yancey D.”
A writer I recently sang those remarkable Lawmanlyrics to said,
“You want to go find that guy and give him a hug.”
God bless her. She gotit!
Enthralled by the consummate craftsmanship, I made a point of checking Lawman’sclosing credits for the name of the lyricist.
It was Mack David.
A respected journeyman lyricist, I Googlinglydiscovered. (Unlike his more celebrated younger-brother lyricist, “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” Hal David.)
Some additional digging revealed that when Mack David wrote the Lawmantheme song he was forty-six years old, and had been working professionally for twenty-five years.
And he’s crankin’ out theme songs for passable westerns. Except that he wasn’t“crankin’ ‘em out.”
He did the best he knew how.
Which brought up something personal. Changing the trajectory of this post.
It was my last job in show business – a one-day-a-week “Consultant” on According To Jim. A Lawman-quality half-hour comedy.
I got the assignment because the show’s creators and I had the same agent, and my agent forced them them hire me. Who cares? I had a job.
And I did the best I knew how.
Monday mornings, I’d arrive at the According To Jim’s “Table Reading”, my script, bristling with scribbled suggestions, many of which found inclusion in the subsequent rewritten draft.
Now originally, I thought that’s what this post was about – the physical act of capably doing the job.
Only later, did I realize, “It’s more visceral than ‘capably doing the job.’”
Yes, I was – like lyricist Mack David – a longtime “professional.” But this goes beyond the pleasing awareness of “knowing you can do it.” It describes the innate nature of the process itself.
You fix a good clock.
You fix a bad clock.
It makes no difference.
You just love fixing a clock.