Cre8tive Reviews interviews songwriter Joe Wasyl & gets a great story about Tim McGraw

As a writer, I can only imagine how much of a dream come true it would be for one of your songs to be recorded by an artist. Cre8tive Reviews recently sat down with singer/songwriter Joe Wasyl to discuss music and the process of writing. Joe is a talented musician himself, and plays several shows at various locations in San Diego including House of Blues, Lazy Hummingbird and pretty much anywhere there is a bonfire. He truly loves his craft. He has written original songs and although he hasn’t had anything recorded as of yet by a major artist, he came very close with Tim McGraw.

Cre8tive Reviews asked him to tell us his story. We havn’t verified any of this information, but Joe is fairly convinced that Tim McGraw would definitely remember him and the song. We would love for someone in Tim’s camp (or Tim himself) to reach out and verify. Either way, it makes for a great story.

Here’s what Joe had to say:

Once upon a time, my lifelong friend, Grant Cherry, married a beautiful lady named Claudia and they had a son named Austin. After a number of years together they grew apart and Claudia divorced Grant and moved to Colorado with Austin Cherry. This broke Grant’s heart. Feeling his emotional pain, I wrote “The Unhappy Hour”. In addition to being like a brother to me growing up, and even teaching me how to play the guitar, Grant was one of the BEST guitar players in the world (seriously) and among his other accomplishments, he had been a star pitcher on our high school baseball team. After the divorce Grant married Victoria Cherry. They have a beautiful daughter named Chelsea Cherry.

Shortly after I had finished writing the song, I met up with an accomplished songwriter and music publisher from Los Angeles named Kay Parker. Kay thought the “Unhappy Hour” deserved the best possible demo, so she introduced me by telephone to the boys that owned the County Q studio in Nashville, TN and we set up a recording session.

I decided to make the trip an adventure, so I flew into Detroit, rented a big Lincoln Continental limo, and picked up 3 of my Michigan friends, Mario Ferrari, Paul Sloan, and Larry Pichini (Adelia Pichini’s husband and Carly Pichini’s dad). We proceeded to head south down interstate 75 with a couple of guitars in the trunk and music in our souls.

When we arrived in Nashville, County Q hooked me up with a lap steel player, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboard player who had all recorded with Garth Brooks, and a singer named Ronnie Wallace who was playing in Tim McGraw’s bar band. At the time, Tim was a virtual unknown working a regular job and playing in the local bars on the weekends. We laid down all the tracks and mixed 3 songs that same afternoon.

After the recording session we decided to go celebrate at The Hall of Fame Café managed by Hope Powell’s best friend, Vicky Bixby. (Hope ate with us at the breakfast café in our hotel every morning and introduced us to Vicky.) The Hall of Fame Cafe just happened to be having a singer’s showcase that evening, which was being broadcast live on a local Nashville radio station. One of the singers was a 19-year-old waitress named Faith Hill, also a complete unknown at the time. After Faith finished her 3-song set she came over and sat at our table for the rest of the evening. (I guess Faith thought it was cool that Mario had taken it upon himself to fire up the crowd during Faith’s set by holding up large cue cards saying stuff like CHEER! CLAP!   LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BAND!)

Vicky Bixby joined our group and introduced me to Faith as a county songwriter from California. Faith told us that her boyfriend had just signed a record deal, and sure enough, about an hour later Tim McGraw walks into the bar, sees Faith, and joins our party. After hearing about the recording session he asked me if he could check out the demos, so Tim and I walked out to the parking lot, sat in my Lincoln limo, and we played the demos on the car stereo. After playing the “Unhappy Hour” Tim pulled the cassette out of the car stereo, stuck it in his shirt pocket and said, “I want to record that song”. (I guess my lyric, “…and imagine my son with some other dad playing baseball the hurt starts again” touched home with Tim, as his dad Tug McGraw, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, and had become estranged from the rest of the family when Tim was a boy.)

This is where the story turns ugly… Not ever hearing the name “Tim McGraw” until that day, and being a little PO-ed that Tim had diverted some of Faith’s attention from our little party, I pulled the cassette out of his pocket and said something like, “Wait a minute Tim, I promised that song to George Jones?!?!!”. We wound up doing a tug of war with the cassette, and finally Tim got a little upset and just handed me his producer’s business card (Byron Gallimore) and we went back into the bar.

It took me about a month to come to my senses, and I arranged an appointment with Byron. He played the song while I was sitting at his desk. He simply said “Good song!” and dropped it in Tim’s file. But… by then all the material for Tim McGraw’s first CD had been recorded. That album sold well over 2 million copies. I guess that stupid 99 cent cassette is still lying in the bottom of a file drawer in Byron’s Nashville office. The end.

We had a chance to listen to the song, and it’s definitely got that 90’s country vibe with some amazing lyrics. I have to say the chorus was also stuck in our heads for awhile after listening. As for the plans for the song, Joe really doesn’t have any but he is open to having it recorded, or a co-writing venture if anyone is interested and wants to make changes. He is just proud of the song, as any writer would be and would love to see it recorded.

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