- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)



Rockvale, TN, August 25, 2012 -- It is not often that this sort of thing happens to me. So not often in fact that it has never happened before. My friend John Weiss, up Seattle way, occasionally hosts an open mike. It was at one of John's events that he and I first made each other's acquaintance. I played at one of his open mikes and I sang Bottom Dollar, a tune I wrote with the totally enormous help of Billy Joe Shaver back in 1972, I think it was.

At the end of the evening John and I were sitting at a table and he asked me: "Did you really write that song?" I said yes. "Well, listen to this," John said, and picked up his guitar. He sang verse after verse of Bottom Dollar that Shaver and I had not written.

When I regained the power of speech I said, "Wow, where did those come from?"

"I learned them from a friend of mine, Silky Miller," John said. "Where he learned them I don't know. Maybe he wrote them or maybe he collected them."

As I said, it isn't often. It isn't often that a writer writes a song that so moves other writers to write their own versions of it.

I called John the other day and asked him to write down the verses he could remember. And, true friend that he is, he did and promptly sent them in the mail to me.

His letter came to me two days later. So here they are. You can see the 'real' verses on this website I think, if you look hard enough. But here are their offspring: