Nov 11 2015

Paul Williams



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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. I’m sorry to have been missing in action. An extra full plate is partially responsible. Endless blessings. But, I experienced something a few days ago that lit a fire and made me want to share it with you.

I’m sometimes obsessed with time passing. I often retrace my life back to events that have led to especially meaningful moments or milestones. I wrote an earlier blog about it. I concluded that even if I could there’s very little I’d change. Momentary Acceptance.

Looking ahead I attempt the opposite. Psychic silliness. I’m one of those people who wonders while I’m opening Christmas presents what I’ll be doing next Christmas. You too? I suspect we all do it.

We try to connect the dots forward to see what lay ahead and we can’t. We have to trust. You’d think I would understand that by now.

But looking back…

A few days ago something happened in the hallway leading from my ASCAP office that was magical for me. A moment that took me all the way back to my childhood. Took me back to a movie theater in Denver Colorado, an eleven year old, sitting between my mother and my aunt Edna watching a film that may have been the spark of my passion for music, film, all the things I’ve been lucky enough to pursue.

It’s what would probably be called a “chick flick” today. It was a film about Jane Froman, a singer during World War II who was injured in a plane wreck while entertaining the troops. Facing endless operations to save her leg, in the end she bravely faces an audience of homesick soldiers and sings. I know how corny it sounds. I loved it.

“With a song in my heart” captivated me. It was a late afternoon screening and I begged to stay and watch it a second time. “Your father’s home and needs his dinner” was my mother’s response, but she gave in. My father was pissed. Standing on the front yard when we got home he was clearly frightened that something had happened to us.

So, Dad had a late dinner and as the years roll by .. Well, we can fast forward to me wanting to be an actor, not really succeeding and..  “No’ being a gift, I find songwriting.

The years produce both triumph and trauma, most of the trauma a result of my bad behavior. Eventually my alcoholism leads to the greatest gift, my recovery.  Another example of something very bad leading to something very, very good.

So, back to that moment in the hallway of ASCAP where I made a connection that felt like a beautiful gift. The hallway is lined with framed sheet music of Oscar winning songs and scores written by ASCAP members. I must have walked by it hundreds of times and never noticed the framed sheet music, honoring Alfred Newman’s Oscar winning score for “With a song in my heart”.

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. Perhaps I received a living preview of that moment when I flashed back to that theater and the impact of that film. My mind raced forward through all the improbable events that led to my presence in that hallway.

I thought about my recovery, the chance to begin again, the friends who’ve embraced my work and especially the other alcoholics who came before.

The journey continues through recent events. Perhaps the greatest joy comes from the chance to be of service. Watching Tracey capture the respect and attention of a thousand people at a recovery fundraiser in Houston or speaking to a few recovering addicts and their parents in New Jersey. What an amazing life I’ve been given. I couldn’t have planned it. You can’t get here from therel Yes, you can.

Consider this little slideshow of adventures in Paulie-Ville to be an extended thank you note. Thank you for all the support and the advocacy. The Kindness.

I hope your life is decorated with similar sweet heart starting, memory jarring moments. I hope you have the opportunity to look back in wonder and feel your soul fill with gratitude and trust.



Paul Williams

Paul Williams is a singer, songwriter, actor, recovery advocate and has been a fixture on the American cultural scene since the seventies. His book Gratitude and Trust is now available.