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From time to time Vin Bruce and I have been accused of being “songwriters”.

We’ve been called worse but there are songwriters and there are songwriters. Example: Income from just two of Taylor Swift’s recent compositions “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off” could make her rich, but she also recorded them, (more $), add her past hits, (still more $), her TV shows, endorsements, and concerts, (plenty more $$$), and she’s got enough money to buy Chicago, (although I don’t know who would want to), and enough left over to buy Disney World and Fourchon. I extravagate, but not much.

In Lafourche, Vin Bruce, Harry Anselmi, Ebdon Barrios and less than six others are songwriters, certified by B.M.I. (Broadcast Music, Inc.) That organization monitors radio, TV, live bands, Internet like Pandora and ITunes, elevator music, (Muzak) night clubs and airlines and charges them to pay the writer when their songs are played, one-cent to three-cents per play, more if you are Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood or Elvis.

Vin and I are in the 1 to 3 cent bracket. Not having written songs in years, my B.M.I. checks are dwindling, but I still get them meaning my songs are playing somewhere in the world. The checks say “songwriter royalties”, so I guess we be that.

I wrote over 120 songs, co-wrote another 30 with Vin Bruce, Mac Rebenac (Dr. John), Harry Anselmi, Mickey Gilly, Rod Bernard and others, which were published by nine different companies and recorded by 28 different artist, including Asleep at the Wheel, Johnny Paycheck, Frogman Henry, Mac. Rebenac (Dr. John) and of course Vin and I.

One of my songs, “Cheating Traces”, was recorded by ten different artists between 1962 and 2013.

I’ve achieved regional, multi state and foreign-charted songs (France and Belgium) and close, but no national hit. If I had my vacations could have been in Hawaii, Paris or Cancun instead of Orange Beach, Branson and the Smokey Mountains. Come to think about it, those weren’t bad.

I still get inquiries about getting songs published because my productions and CDs are still on Amazon and ITunes although I’ve written very few in recent years. The inspirations have faded and my connections are either dead, retired or put out of business by the internet, like Huey Meaux in Beaumont, Troy Martin, Shelby Singelton and Tommy Hill in Nashville, and Bill Hall and “Pappy” Daily in Houston.

Floyd Soileau’s Flat Town Music, Inc. is still in business in Ville Platte with Amazon, ITunes, B.M.I. and A.S.C.A.P/ royalties. Publisher and writer share 50/50.

Vin Bruce and I worked well together. I could put words together while he had a knack for finding melodies. Hardly Rogers and Hammerstein but two Cajun boys pursuing a career in music.

Here’s a funny story from 1968.

My brother-in-law who was visiting for a few days woke up one morning at 1 a.m. and found Vin and I trying to write songs with a bottle and tape recorder on the table. Vin had a Cajun album to record at Cosimo in New Orleans. With no more original songs we decided to put Cajun lyrics to great country songs. Good idea! That increased the record sales, but the original writers got the B.M.I. money.

We had completed “Wild Side of Life”, “Cold, Cold Heart” and “The Last Letter” and were working on Bob Wills’ “Maiden’s Prayer.” You cannot literally translate a song and make it rhyme, but keeping the theme makes it legal and legit.

At the last chorus I said “Vin, we have to kill the girl like in “Honey” and “Patches”.

Vin said, “No, we won’t kill her.”

We had another drink, I stood up and said: “Yes, we will” and he replied: “No, we won’t”.

We got pretty loud. My brother-in-law got up and said: “You guys are crazy! I’m going to bed.”

Well, Vin won! The girl survived! We concluded that it was her sister her boyfriend loved thus her prayers … still a sad but happier ending. Even in a fictional song with a fictional girl Vin couldn’t bear the demise of even one. That’s love!


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