This article was featured in The Toronto Star's What's On section on Thursday, October 13, 1995

JON VEZNER: Above The Daily Rind



There are Nashville songwriters who spit out songs as easily as watermelon seeds, but JON VEZNER considers himself above the daily rind.

Although the 43-year-old Minneapolis native is hardly a household name to the public, such eloquent hits as JOHN & AUDREY WIGGINS' current chart climber "Has Anybody Seen Amy," STEVE WARINER's top 10 smash "If I Didn't Love You, " and KATHY MATTEA's award-winning "Where've You Been" have established him in Music City as a skilled, sensitive country music craftsman.

In a town where writers often polish off a couple of cliche-riddled songs before lunch, Vezner says he only averages 20 to 25 songs a year and prefers to take his time rather than feed the treadmill.

"I used to work in my father's machine shop," revealed Vezner, who brings the tools of his trade and a trio of peers to the Liberty Songwriters Series Showcase to Ultrasound Monday night.

"And I figured that if I ever develop a need to stamp out widgets, I'll go back to the assembly line.

"I'm not a 9-to-5 writer. I write from anywhere -- from in the car to on the toilet -- but I write in spurts. I don't really have a choice in the matter. I write in sprints, and then I have to stop for a while and replenish the coffers."

Recognized as The Nashville Songwriters Association International's Songwriter Of The Year in 1991 for "Where've You Been," which also nabbed him a Grammy and Country Music Association and The Academy Of Country Music Song Of The Year honors, Vezner is now stepping front and center with his own album, Who's Gonna Know.

A cornerstone of The Liberty Songwriter Series boutique label initiated by RENEE BELL, vice-president of A&R for Nashville-based Liberty Records, to focus on song creators rather than interpreters, the project involves three other albums: PAT ALGER's Notes And Grace Notes , JILL COLUCCI's No Regrets , and KOSTAS LANGARIDES' X S In Moderation .

The foursome taped a TV special earlier this week and kicked off a 15-city tour at New York's prestigious Bottom Line, loosely based on a typical night at The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville's premier showcase venue for aspiring and experienced tunesmiths.

Their only Canadian appearances are in Vancouver and Toronto, with Monday's local date preceded by a Sunday taping for Today's Country, the nationally syndicated weekly country music show.

"One of the important things we're trying to do is recreate a night at The Bluebird Cafe," explained Vezner Saturday from the Nashville home he shares with his wife Kathy Mattea.

"We all sing a round and exchange stories about how songs were written. One thing I've learned from experience is that people in the audience want to hear the story behind the song."

Of the featured writers on the tour, Vezner has written only with Alger, best known for his hatful of GARTH BROOKS' chart-toppers "Unanswered Prayers," "The Thunder Rolls," "What She's Doing Now," and "That Summer."

However, he prefers working alone to the collaborative process.

"Solo writing is probably the most rewarding, but it's also the most difficult," he said. "I agonize over every word. But I believe it's important to write on your own. If you rely on your partner, you begin to lose your instincts."

As far as dispensing advice to earnest songwriters, Vezner -- who has a music degree in composition from the University Of Minnesota -- says honesty is the best policy.

"Be true to who you are," he said. "Try to learn to hear your own voice. You have to do it because you love it, otherwise it's too competitive. It's a long road and it's a lot of work, but it's worth it if you want to do it."



1989 -- Academy Of Country Music, Song Of The Year, "Where You've  Been" (with Don Henry)

1990 -- Country Music Association, Song Of The Year, "Where You've Been" (with Don Henry)

1990 -- Grammy, Best Country Song, "Where You've Been" (with Don Henry)

THANKS: Mitch Potter, Ann Forbes

©1995, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink


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