Mandolin Morning Musings

Ramblin' Paul and His 3 String Guitar  

Ramblin’ Paul             Words Justin Mychals and Kenneth Smith     c 2012 BMI 

Paul walked the streets of my hometown for a good long while. Every time I ever saw him he always had on an overcoat and a ragged squashed fedora hat. His scruffy and weathered face carried a look of sadness that occasionally broke into a toothless grin but never lasted very long.  As a young musician in town, I always took notice that he always had a beat-up guitar hangin’ from his shoulder that always rested is arm as he lumbered up and down the streets of our small town. Needless to say, Paul was our town drunk and was always walking the streets or sittin’ on a street corner strumming that guitar. 

I noticed his guitar one day. It was scratched, dented and well-worn with many holes all over the body. The thing that stuck out mostly though was that it only had three strings on it and only two tuning keys. One of the strings was wrapped around a small nail he had driven into the head of the guitar. I found this kinda strange but it never seemed to bother ole Paul or slow him down from strumming a tune for you. 

At the drop of a hat Paul what “scrub one off fer ya”! He’d jump into an old timey tune, singing at the top of his lungs, bangin’ and beatin’ on that guitar like it was a mangy dog tryin’ to steal his last piece of meat from his dinner plate.  When Paul couldn’t find an audience on the street to stop and listen to him he would turn to the mannequins that posed in the windows in all the stores on the Main street of town. He had quite an audience built up from store to store. From the songs he would sing to his captured audience it was always apparent that Paul had quite a dislike for all of his female fans.  This caused a little disruption for the store owners and managers whenever Paul would pick their store for one of his concerts. 

One day he had a good crowd built up around a store window and he was crooning to a particularly svelte blond in a cute red and white summer print. We were egging him on to continue with another song and a gentleman kindly whispered to me that maybe my actions and suggestions weren’t the most mature or sensible things to be saying to Paul. He told me that few knew that Paul had once been a very talented and sought after guitar talent that had graced the stage of the “Grand Ole Opry” for a couple of years.  I immediately stopped dead in my tracks and I remember, in an instant, seeing a completely different man holding that guitar with only three strings on it.  

As I grew up and finally matured in life I would think back a lot to Paul and his life that he lived on the streets of my hometown. The burning question that I could never let go of was, what happened in his life that took him from the pinnacle of his profession, The Grand Ole Opry, to singing for mannequins in a store window? 

As I became a songwriter the story of Paul and his three-string guitar was never far from my soul! His story always haunted me and intrigued me at the same time! “Ramblin Paul” deals with that haunt and mystery! I knew little of him and most of the song is only what I imagined happened to him. Hopefully this song will keep the memory of this troubled street minstrel alive. I still would love to have heard him when he had all six strings on that ole beat-up guitar and tuned it up to play for everyone. My bet is, it was glorious!! 

Download Ramblin’ Paul and take a trip back in time to live life of a street minstrel! 

May God Bless Ramblin Paul!

  1. Ramblin' Paul

Welcome To My First Mandolin Mornin' Musings 

Mandolin Mornin’ Musings        Justin Mychals 

Nov 3, 2018 

Hey Everyone, 

Welcome to my first ever, Mandolin Mornin’ Musings Blog Post.  This is my first attempt to blog on a regular basis and connect my world with y’all. 

I grew up in the hills of East Tennessee just a few miles from the Virginia border. Being raised in Kingsport, Tn. I refer to myself as a “small town City Hillbilly”! East Tennessee is a great area to be from especially if you are a musician. Kingsport and the surrounding area is alive with many talented and famous musicians. Dolly Parton grew up just down the road in Sevierville in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.   The Carter Family started the “the Big Bang of Country Music” with their recordings along with Jimmy Rodgers in Bristol in 1927! Who hasn’t sung “You Are My Sunshine” at some point in their life!!  Johnny Cash chose the Carter Fold for his last show in Hiltons, Va. The list could go on and on of the talented musicians that rock this area from Allison Krauss’ Union Station, The Grand Ole Opry,  to the rock band Kansas and Jackyll. The musical heritage is strong in these parts!! 

Twenty miles up the road from Kingsport is Bristol Tn, aptly named the “Birthplace of Country Music” because of the aforementioned recordings from 1927 and home of the very cool 3 day music festival “Bristol Rhythm and Roots”!  Forming the last point of the Tri-Cities area is Johnson City Tn. Yes, the same Johnson City mentioned in the “Wagon Wheel” song!  JC is the home of one of the coolest and most famous listening rooms in the entire country, “The Down Home”.  It’s a must stop when you visit our area.  East Tennessee State University is famous for their Bluegrass Music degree. Young folks can come to college and learn art and history of Bluegrass Music! How Awesome is that!!!!! 

Many famous, well known and talented artists are from this area and continue to ply their craft here. All are extremely talented and I’m very blessed to call many of them my friends. To be taught, perform with, and influenced by these people is a life most would only dream of and I get to live it everyday. 

I’m proud of my mountain heritage, my family, and the many friends that I have here. I cherish them all! This is where my love of family, Country and music took root and grew to where it is today. This blog is designed to share those stories of family, culture, fun, triumph and tragedies. The people I have grown up with and continue to meet through my travels have given me a rich life of songs and stories to share with y’all. So, Welcome to Mandolin Mornin’ Musings. I hope your as excited about the this journey as I am to be drivin’ the bus!!! See ya next weekend as I share story of Ramblin’ Paul.