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The “Restless, Restless” story… through the eyes of finalist Jeff Stillman 

THE MUSICIAN

 

I had been writing music as a hobby for 10 years when my wife got pregnant.  We decided to take a shot at me staying home with my son and writing full time, giving up engineering and giving “the dream” of being a professional songwriter a try.  Although I like most types of music, I focus on writing country, which is a genre where a lot of music is still written by songwriters and not the actual performer.  I had been at it for little under a year when my wife heard about the “Restless, Restless” contest during her commute.  She sent me to the website and I figured I’d give it a shot.

 

THE SONG

 

I didn’t want to write a country version, what with Howard having left a station earlier in his career because he couldn’t stand the new country format.  Not good odds, I figured.  But my first shot at a pop version ended up sounding like a cheap imitation of the soundtrack from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  After I considered that the basic theme of “my woman done left me” was a staple of country music, I decided to let the words speak to me in any way they chose, country or otherwise.  The music wrote itself in 15 minutes.  So hey, if I didn’t have a shot at winning with a country song, at least it didn’t take long.  What was more, going country allowed it to be fun and bouncy – which might help its chances.  Remarkably, the show picked country songs for two of the three finalists.

 

THE SHOW

 

The show was a surreal experience.  I briefly saw Playmate Jill Ann in the station’s lobby – an attractive blonde with a huge rack and an entourage, wondering aloud “is this the radio station?” with a giant INFINITY BROADCASTING logo in plain view.  Yup, I’m in the right place, I thought. After an hour of hanging out with Kevin Remuck and his posse, we finally got summoned to the hallway outside the broadcast room.  But not until Jill Ann ran long by 15 minutes, making me cringe to think of all the people I’d told to tune in to hear me at 8:30 and were instead getting an earful of Hugh Hefner’s sexual fetishes.  My dad got it worst; he had persuaded his dentist to put the show through the office’s overhead speakers.  A few little old ladies had something to say about that.  Getting on was slightly manic – some slight confusion about whether Mr. Goulet would be going first or second.  Gary sent me in the room with “You’re on!  You’re on!  NO!  Goulet’s ready!  You’re off!  You’re off!”  I got a peek at Howard before getting dragged off again. When I finally got on, I was eerily calm.  I hadn’t even seen the room, much less had a chance to rehearse in it, but after two questions from Howard, the music started playing and I was off.  I sang most of the song to Robin, making her out to be the one who had been “Restless, Restless” with me.  She was delightful, playing along. Kevin followed.  Nothing like having a real band behind you; they certainly deserved to win for presentation.  I was impressed.  So were the judges, and Kevin got the $5000.  Afterwards, during the commercial break, everyone introduced themselves and posed for pictures, which was a real classy thing to do on Howard’s part.  (Still hoping to get a copy of that picture!)  In fact, throughout the segment Howard and the gang were really respectful of the performers.  I had a great time.

 

THE AFTERMATH

 

John Titta of Warner/Chappell met with me afterwards and I passed some tunes to him at his request, but nothing much has come of that.  In general, the best thing to come from the show has been a great little anecdote that I can tell music publishers when I shop my stuff down in Nashville.  Helps me stand out a little.  My songwriting career is starting to gain a little momentum, what with one song signed to a Nashville publishing contract and another getting some serious attention.  Maybe when “Restless, Restless” has another contest in another 20 years, I’ll be the one in the judge’s seat! 

 

 

 Jeff Stillman

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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