Gatlin will offer writing tips


Odessa High School alumnus and Larry Gatlin of The Gatlin Brothers speak to Odessa High School students on Friday, October 8, 2021 at the Odessa High School Performing Arts Center. The Gatlin Brothers performed on Friday, October 8, 2021 at Ratliff Stadium ahead of the intercity rivalry game between Odessa High School and Permian High School. (Jacob Ford|American Odessa)

Besides singing with his brothers, one of Larry Gatlin’s favorite things is passing on his knowledge to budding writers.

He will do just that as part of the Music Masters series at Odessa College on April 19. OC will also welcome him for a concert at the Ector Theater the same day at 6:30 p.m.

In a phone interview, Grammy winner Gatlin said he’s held writing workshops all over the world.

“Most of mine is songwriting, but writing is writing. Here’s what I tell people: all the words you need for these songs, all the words you you need for these essays, all the words you need for these novels, they’re all in the dictionary. You just have to figure out what order they come in and do it in such a way that John and Mary buy a CD, or download something thing or a newspaper will hire you to put it in there,” Gatlin said.

Crediting his professors from ISD in Ector County, Gatlin said he was very cultured. He added that he liked the words.

“The old adage (is) teaching is didactic and learning is experiential. I could stand there and teach my West Texas hindquarters for two hours. That doesn’t mean they learn whatever it is, so what I try to do #1 is try to encourage them,” Gatlin said.

“It’s not my mission, it’s not my job, it’s not my intention to go out there and try to teach them to write like I do. What I’m going to do is give them five or six little things that I think are important and that I’ve learned along the way. One of my favorite authors, William Faulkner, said read, read, read. Read everything. Read the garbage to find out what it looks like; you will know what it looks like on the page. Work like you would work if you were working as an apprentice carpenter watching the master build a cabinet or a house,” he added.

Gatlin is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and wrote every hit scored by the Gatlin Brothers.

The trio’s single, “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You)”, is ranked among the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time according to Billboard.

Larry, Steve and Rudy have been members of the Grand Ole Opry for 45 years. Larry also hosts the Opry Country Classics series at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Despite years of busy schedules, Gatlin continues to make time to give back. He is a champion of causes related to veterans and children in need, according to news reports.

Actor and producer, Gatlin starred on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies and Civil War.

He is also a longtime Fox News commentator and an avid golfer.

He joked that he still performs because he likes having three meals a day and sleeping indoors.

“…There’s not as much work as before, but with the brothers…we do about 50 days a year. We do the Grand Ole Opry. I host Opry Country Classics…” Gatlin said.

He also does solo concerts and he still writes.

“…I have learned that I am my own harshest critic. Anyone, anywhere can write a song; not just anyone can make one. Thank God I Have Big Shoulders starring Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newberry, Roger Miller (and) Dottie West; people who taught me the trade. I learned some of it by digging. You have to dig it into the ground.

“That’s what golfers say,” Gatlin said.

Over the years, he has had four vocal cord surgeries. One was serious and the others were “just small adjustments”.

His favorite song is “I’ve Done Enough Dying Today”, but his wife Janis’ favorite is “All the Gold in California”.

Janis is also from Odessa and attended Ector High School.

His favorite place to perform is the Grande Ole Opry.

“If I had a song to sing, I’d sing it at the Ryman. If I had two, I would sing the second at the Opry House; and the next one, I don’t know; maybe Carnegie Hall. I heard it was pretty cool,” Gatlin said.

He added that he and his brothers were very lucky to have performed at the Ryman nine times.

Having played since he was 3 or 4 years old, Gatlin said he never had stage fright. He added that acting is not second nature to him and his brothers, it is first nature.

“I feel as natural up there as when I’m sitting in my chair watching the Masters. …,” Gatlin said.

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