Thursday, February 27, 2014

"I'm Qualified to Teach Grammar to Your Children"

Category:  Tribute/Obituary

This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to post. 

Tim Wilson, the country comedian best known for his southern humor and songs "Jeff Gordon's Gay" and "But I Could Be Wrong," has died.  Wilson died of a heart attack in Nashville yesterday (2/26).

I first heard of Tim Wilson when someone, knowing my opinion of the most popular person in country music at the time, sent me a sound wav of "Garth Brooks Has Ruined My Life."  I went to see him in Louisville and was hooked immediately.  I bought all his cassettes, including "Tough Crowd," the one that featured "Garth Brooks Has Ruined My Life."  He signed it, "Yours in Garth hatingdom, Tim Wilson."

From that time in 1992 until last November, when I went to Nashville to see him at Zanie's, I didn't miss Tim's shows.

Timothy Collins Wilson was born August 5, 1961 in Columbus, Georgia ("the entertainment capital of the world, Columbus, Georgia!" Wilson would announce in the early days, then add, "Thank you, keep your seats!").  The son of two educators ("My dad was the assistant principal of a junior high school for 25 years....he whipped the preacher and three of the pallbearers at his funeral"), the "southern" was legitimate, if slightly exaggerated:  Wilson had a degree in English ("I'm qualified to teach grammar to your children") and was well-versed despite what you saw on stage.

That was reflected in one of his proudest accomplishments:  his book.  Happy New Year, Ted:  Theodore Bundy and the Columbus Stocking Stranglings, co-written with Roger Keiss, was Wilson's crusade, of sorts, to prove that a series of unsolved murders in his hometown were committed by notorious mass murderer Ted Bundy.  He was very passionate about the subject (frequently spending more time talking about the cases than his own comedy or music to fans after shows).  If you read the book you may come away with the same conclusion Wilson did:  Bundy did commit those murders.

Wilson was also a record producer.  He worked with the likes of Gregg Allman and Levon Helm on the underrated All-Night All Stars album, an album of covers that Wilson did after utilizing some of the musicians one another album. 

Over the years I saw Wilson nearly 80 times.  He once said from the stage he was confident that I could get up and do his entire routine from memory (which is probably true).  When he picked up the guitar to "sing you some stupid shit," as he put it, he'd always ask, "How many of you like country music?"  After the applause he would add, "Well, if you don't, you'd better start liking it, 'cause it's all I can play."  Our common bond was country music, and we spent many hours discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly (he had a song that I used in my ICMC presentation last year that proclaimed, "I like country better back when it was ugly") in the world of country music.  He'd tell people, on stage and off, that I know "more about country music than anybody."  (Tim really needed to get out more often.) 

The last two songs on that All-Night All Stars album are the traditional hymn, "Softly and Tenderly," and an instrumental by Jimmy Hall titled, "'Til We Meet Again."  Two fitting songs to play for the loss of a good musician, funny, funny man....and a dear friend.

Farewell, Tim.  I will miss you terribly.

Tim Wilson was 52.


According to news reports from Columbus, Georgia outlets Wilson died in his hometown, not in Nashville.  The reports state that he had suffered a heart attack and was taken to St. Francis hospital, where his aorta ruptured, killing him.

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