Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marshall Chapman Discusses Willie Nelson

Something good happened at the Southern Festival of Books on October 9, 2010. I got to meet someone whose work I’ve long admired, Marshall Chapman. She, to me, is the epitome of a true Southern belle. Stylish in her own right, she never makes a fashion faux pas in denim and pearls. I don’t want to come off as a gushing fan, but, oh well, what can I say? I am a fan.

During her 3 p.m. session at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, I had the pleasure of being her water girl. She was about three-quarters of the way through her presentation for her new book, They Came to Nashville (Vanderbilt University Press), and her voice was beginning to give a little. “Didn’t anybody think to give us any water up here?” she asked rhetorically. I did a quick bag check, and saw I had an extra bottle so I ran up to the stage and handed it to Jill McCorkle, who had introduced Marshall and was moderating the session. She gave it to Marshall.

Later, when my friend Sue and I were getting our books signed, Marshall asked to whom she should sign my book, which Sue had kindly bought me as a gift. I held up my badge, since I, too, had spoken at an earlier session, and to my surprise she said, “Eileen Sisk. I know that name! You wrote the book on Buck Owens!” I answered in the affirmative and pointed out that the same photographer, Anthony Scarlati, had taken our photographs for our respective book jackets.

To tell you I was thrilled that Marshall Chapman knew who I was would be a gross understatement. I told her I was the one who had taken her the water and she said, “Ah, you know how it is then.” Oh yeah, I know. Nothing like having your mouth get dry or your voice waver and crack when you are supposed to be at your best.

After Sue and I thanked her for her work and signing our books, I wanted to see what Marshall had inscribed in my book. I took it out and this is what it said:

For Eileen –

Thanks for the water!

– Love on!

Marshall Chapman

Here’s a snippet of Marshall in action at her session:

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