When I was eight years old my family lived in The Hague, Netherlands for a year where my younger sister and I were sent to an English school. Though neither of my parents played a musical instrument, they decided at this time that it would be a good idea for me to take piano lessons. I agreed, reluctantly; a rebellious kid, I was often disinclined to go along with their suggestions. But it was apparent from the outset that the teacher and I were not going to get along. She and the other teachers at the school found my Texas accent barbaric, and said as much. After a couple of lessons I told my parents I wanted to quit and they said okay. I remember being surprised that they didn't make a stronger case for me to continue.
Twelve years later I bought a secondhand guitar in a shop in Cali, Colombia and began teaching myself to play. More years passed while I busied myself with finishing college, a stint in the Peace Corps, and the daunting task of trying to learn to write. Through it all I kept a guitar close by, and I used to pick it up and play awhile whenever I was stalled. After my first manuscript was turned down by several publishers, I moved to New Mexico to begin another. There a series of revelations occurred, and what had been my sideline became my mainline; I became seriously addicted to songwriting and put everything else on the back burner.
Inspired by the example of Kris Kristofferson and the records Bob Dylan had made there I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1971, beginning a series of peregrinations back and forth to Texas that continued for almost three decades. In the late seventies I began a series of newsletters published in an English fanzine called Omaha Rainbow . I recorded my first LP, In Texas Last December, an album of original songs released on Buttermilk Records, a small Houston based label in 1977. I began selling records overseas by mail order. I began touring Europe in the eighties, which led to a recording deal with Brambus Records in Switzerland, an affiliation which has lasted to this day.
Occasionally people ask me if I've been able to make a living at this business, and I've always answered that while you couldn't call it a living, I wouldn't trade the life. Music has enriched my existence immeasurably and brought so much joy, I would be a fool to complain about the hard times. A privileged and ancient profession, music can open doors and take you to places where the rewards are not counted in money. It is a window on the world like no other. Looking back I can truthfully say I have few regrets. only sometimes I wish I had kept up with those piano lessons.
Read the biography by Arthur Wood.
"Songwriter Richard Dobson's precious memories of his exciting years on the road and strange adventures with a group of buddies and fellow musicians: Rex Bell, Mickey White and "the looniest, most gifted of the bunch, Townes Van Zandt". These anecdotes are told so vividly and in such detail (with lots of direct speech) that they can be puzzled together into an autobiography of sorts despite the strong tendency towards episodes: From Dobson's time working on an oil platform through the evacuation of the same in the midst of a hurricane, survival strategies in Nashville and the potholes of the music business, up to the slow drifting apart of the friends, touring in Europe, a few highs, many more lows, Townes' death. True stories to be laughed at and suffered through. "It's a miracle we survived", a reflective and sober Townes says to Richard Dobson before his death. That miracle is what this book is about - no less." (English translation)