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!