After early successes with his college rock and roll band, The Techniques out of Lubbock, and as a solo singer songwriter at Kerrville, Rio King has re-emerged from musical retirement. With deep affection for his native state, Rio has recently recorded his album, I’d Love To See Texas Again with Chris Gage of MoonHouse Studio in Austin to bring you a great collection of original Texas Music. Four of his songs, “Sweet Rolls and Cream,” “Boogie Woogie Rhythm”, “Boomer Boogie” & “The Old Wrecked Vet,” from that album were winners of the Best Songs of the Second Tuesday Meeting.
Q & A With DSA and RIO
1Q: Who is your favorite songwriter? What is it about these songwriters that attracts you?
Tough question to pick just one, but I love Don Henley’s lyrics; how he tells stories and creates such imagery. He’s closely followed by Guy Clark and Gary Nicholson. Each of them evoke emotion in me. I know different writers pluck different strings in different people…those guys strum all over mine.
2Q: When is a good time for you to write songs? When happy? Sad?
I usually write contemplative songs when it’s a quiet time, e.g. driving at night with little traffic; the last 30 minutes as I come out of sleep in the morning; etc. If I hear rocking, rollicking music, sometimes that mood takes over and words just start flowing out of the excitement.
3Q: Are your songs typically personal and from your own experience?
Most of my songs do come from some segment of my experiences. Often I get an idea for a song and fill in aspects from personal knowledge. On rare occasions I borrow from literature and only hope to have the a touch of the brilliance Henley found in existential literature for “hotel California”. What I can’t imagine or have experience of, I research.
4Q: You have much experience with co-writers. What makes a good co-write?
While I’m convinced of the great value and inspiration derived from co-writing, I must confess I’ve only co-written one song. I guess, so far, I haven’t found a better inspiration and critic than my wife, Malinda.
5Q: Is there someone at the DSA you’d like to co-write with? Without getting specific, there are several writers in the DSA whose work I admire and would find great pleasure in melding styles and viewpoints…I repeat, several.
6Q: What is the hardest part of songwriting? What is the easiest part? The hardest part for me is the improving the weak points of my creativity, for example, relying too heavily on meter and rhyme at the expense of emotion and natural flow. In my defense, I love to dance when I’m not playing and the rhythms are what move my the most. Another area I struggle with is developing sophisticated, yet simple melodies and chord progressions. This is perhaps a great area to explore co-writing.
7Q: When did you know that you wanted to write songs? What prepared you to write songs?
I started writing in college, mostly copying the simple styles of that era. I grew up on the simple chording of country, rockabilly and the simplistic 3-4 chord songs of the 50s and early 60s. When I started learning the English sounds, I started stretching my guitar work.
8Q: If you could give advice to someone in the DSA who wanted to become a better songwriter, what would it be?
I joined the DSA to get exactly what I’ve found: how to structure a song; what works and doesn’t work about a composition; different genres; different approaches; how to connect with the public and the industry. All these things and so much more have helped me, but the thing I found most helpful was the safe criticism that the experts and peers give. Listen to it and grow.
The late Vern Dailey was named Dallas Songwriter a record four times, maybe more, who knows. He was short, shy, vain, funny, poetic—in short, a real stinker, and we miss him every 2nd Tuesday of the month.