73: That’s Just About Right

73: That’s Just About Right

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

That’s Just About Right

Story by Jeff Black

Song written by Jeff Black

Recorded by Blackhawk

I had a lot of wonderful musicians who took me under their wing when I first came to town, people like bassist Dave Pomeroy and bluegrass legend Sam Bush. After I had been here a while, I made some demo recordings for my publisher in town. I was really proud of the session. They were acoustic-based and I felt like they were a great collection of songs. In my mind, they were a true expression of the art I was trying to create.

I sat down and started playing these for the publisher and he listened to the first song for about a minute, then hit the stop button, and shook his head. Then he played the second song for about a minute or minute and a half, and he did the same thing. He listened to the third song and did the same thing, hitting the stop play button. After that, he sat back and lit a cigarette and he said, “Black, you know what your trouble is? You’re thinking too much.”

That’s when I knew I was on the right track. At the same time, I didn’t know whether I should trash the office or just lie down on the floor. I had just picked up everything and left everything I loved, my home and my family, and all that I knew was true. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What have I done?”

I was beside myself. I didn’t own a piano at the time and really couldn’t play one very well, but I went upstairs to this little writing room there at the publisher where they had this tiny piano, and I started playing some chords. I liked the way it sounded and “That’s Just About Right” fell out of the sky. I wrote that song down as fast as I could, as fast as it would come out of my pen. I really never changed much about the draft. I wrote that song in about fifteen or twenty minutes.

I’ve always been very Zen about my songwriting and almost always write by myself. I’ve always looked at my songwriting as a journal of sorts. I was wondering what I was doing and what to make of this whole meeting of art and commerce, and all of the sudden, I couldn’t write it down fast enough.

The song is a composite of several different influences. I have a friend who had gone to the art institute in Kansas City and he had moved to Chicago and was working on being an illustrator. He and I have had several long conversations about art and commerce and how you find yourself in the midst of it. You may feel as though you’re on your path and then all of a sudden you’re blindsided by the real world and responsibility. As a creative person, it’s never really good to get your head out of the clouds, but sometimes it’s good to get yourself a little closer to the ground every once in a while to check your balance in an attempt to center yourself on a planet that’s flying around the sun at 65,000 miles an hour. I believe all the questions start sounding like answers more and more as the days go by and, hopefully, we gain some perspective. It’s simply how we look at things and trying to remember that is the hardest part.

Part of the struggle is that all of us in our day-to-day are pushed to stare at a white empty canvas, no matter what you do for a living, and it can be terrifying. It’s such a short time that we spend on this planet, and happiness is what we’re all after. When it gets down to it, there’s nothing completely original. Everything’s been done, so the only thing that really matters, the only original thing left, is our individual point of view. That is what the song is about: being comfortable with your point of view. Feeling comfortable in your own skin. I tell this story a lot when I play the song live. Whether your creative medium of choice is pastel, or watercolor, or songs or stories or whether you draw funny little pictures while you’re talking on the telephone, it’s finding a comfort in that. A comfort in knowing that you belong.

We live in a society that tries to put the “thumbs-down” on people and that process is designed to make people doubt themselves and think “I could never sing,” or “I could never write a poem or write a story” or “I could never paint a picture.” That’s ridiculous. Of course you can. We all have something to say. We all have an original point of view. It’s natural for us to be creative. And we can’t be attached to the outcome and constantly comparing ourselves with other people. It’s not about perfection. It’s just about expressing yourself.

That’s Just About Right

My old friend lives up in the mountains

He flew up there to paint the world

He says, “Even though interpretation’s what I count on

This little picture to me seems blurred

Hard lines and the shadows come easy

I see it all just as clear as a bell

I just can’t seem to set my easel to please me

I paint my Heaven but it looks like hell”

CHORUS:

Your blue might be gray, your less might be more

Your window to the world might be your own front door

Your shiniest day might come in the middle of the night

That’s just about right

He says, “Man I ain’t comin’ down until my picture is perfect

And all the wonder is gone from my eyes

Down through my hands and on to the canvas

Still like my vision, but still a surprise”

“Real life,” he says, “is the hardest impression

It’s always movin’ so I let it come through

And that, my friend, I say, is the glory of true independence

Just to do what you do what you do what you do”

CHORUS

My old friend came down from the mountain

Without even lookin’ he found a little truth

You can go through life with the greatest intentions

But you do what you do what you just gotta do

CHORUS

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