Songs and scenes in the theaters of the mind

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

I have played some beautiful and well appointed theaters in my day, but my favorite is the one that resides inside your head and heart. The theater of the mind, can go anywhere and anywhen and put you in a better seat than front row center. You can be at Gettysburg with Abraham Lincoln. You can wield your mighty “vorpal sword” to dispatch the fearsome Jabberwocky with Alice in Wonderland, or ride the waves on Noah’s ark.

With The Three D’s, dueting with Dick, in one man shows supported by my talented wife, as a radio announcer and even putting words on a page, my best moments are when the audience agrees to jump on the magic carpet of the mind, and we sail off together on an adventure.

Words can propel us there. Music kicks in the afterburners to action, or wafts the perfume of emotion over us in pensive moments. Music enhances the journey.

My major and post graduate work in college was in mass communications. But when artistic images really happen on stage, on the page or through a studio microphone, the result is less like mass communication, and more like a collection of many personal communications.

One night I was building to the climax of a show on Porter Rockwell, probably the best known quick draw, dead shot law man in our part of the west. His life and legend have blended together which adds to the intrigue of his story.

According to one account a sidewinder got the drop on Port by riding up to him with his gun hidden behind his horse. The bad guy leveled his six shooter straight at the lawman’s heart. “I’ve come a thousand miles just to kill you Rockwell,” he snarled.

Port saw the man was shooting an old time cap and ball revolver that had a firing cap stuck on a nipple on the back of each of the six firing chambers. Riding along, sometimes that external cap could fall off; a deadly embarrassment in a shoot out.

Porter drilled his gaze into the man’s eyes. “You can’t kill me without a cap on your gun.”

“You’re bluffin’.”

“Try me and see,” Port challenged, “But you’re only gonna get one chance.”

The killer bought the bait for a millisecond. Porter’s lightening draw and deadly aim settled the argument.”

As I went through the scene, an older gentleman on the front row was transfixed. Inspired by his wrapped attention, I pumped the story for all it was worth. After the show he was out of his seat and first in line to shake my hand.

“That was great,” he said. “Let me tell you my favorite story about Ol’ Port. One day a sidewinder rode up to Port and said, ‘I come a thousand miles just to kill you…”

He proceeded to tell me the story I had just told him. I was complimented. I had gone a step beyond just entertaining him. I had helped him saddle up and ride off on his own with his hero.

I first developed what we called the “Songs and Scenes” format with The Three D’s to showcase folk songs from the pioneer days.

Dick and I used it to dramatize “Songs and Scenes of the Old Testament.”

I later used this format for shows about Abraham Lincoln, Porter Rockwell, American History, stories from The Book of Mormon, and verses from the song, “Follow the Prophet.”

Enacting stories and singing songs are the oldest and simplest forms of entertainment, and I believe they are the basic building blocks of every other form.

I have made a career out of words and/or music. Performing with a pen in solitude may not be as exciting as delivering to an audience from a stage, but it can be equally fulfilling. Freelance writing can be downright fascinating.

Your next installment is: Glory, Glory Hallelujah

(No place like Washington D.C. for a tale of intrigue)

Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.