Lyric from The Weathering,
© Will T. Massey
Once again, Will T. Massey opens his heart in a song with words that resonate deeply in the soul. The West Texas troubadour has a brand-new CD coming out in January, and you can listen & pre-order it here.
Okay, full disclaimer: I’m a huge Will T. Massey fan and have been for years. See, Will is also my cousin, so I started listening to his original songs on self-released cassettes he made in high school.
Will went all in on music at a young age, bursting onto the late 80s Austin music scene like a West Texas windstorm. Playing anywhere they’d let him on stage, from open mikes to folk clubs, he quickly gathered fans among listeners and fellow musicians alike. Within a few months, he’d become one of the favorites at the renowned coffeehouse Chicago House.
He built such a buzz that noted manager Peter Philbin picked him up quickly and started priming him for the big time through introductions and connections. By March ’89, Will headlined the Chicago House SXSW showcase to a house packed with interested record agents and scouts.
As Will stepped up to play that night, though, the sound system got cranky, popping and screeching and defying adjustment. Will, unperturbed, said, “Never mind — I can play without it.” His manager started to freak out as Will pushed the microphone away and called out, “Can ya hear me, Ma?”
“I hear you, Will,” came his mom’s clear, strong voice from the back corner.
So he started to play — a fully energized set to a totally transfixed, hushed audience that completely blew everyone away. Shortly thereafer, MCA signed him to a 7-album recording deal.
The next year, I couldn’t even get in the door for his SXSW show at Chicago House. I spoke to him briefly on the sidewalk afterwards, but his eyes already reflected the faraway calling him.
Thus started a full court push on his career: MCA put Roy Bittan (of E-Street Band fame) in charge of Will’s eponymous debut album. The album took off, enjoying a favorable review (and picture!) in Rolling Stone. Will got name-dropped in a Time magazine story on Texas singer-songwriters, and played the Austin City Limits television show, as well as touring with the likes of Townes van Zandt, Joe Ely, and Steve Earle.
Somewhere between his much-heralded debut album and a second studio effort, he broke from his manager and his label. Then he broke from reality, I suppose you might say.
A psychotic episode sent him back to his family in San Angelo, Texas and involuntary commitment to a psychiatric ward. Over the next several years, he continued to write and perform sporadically, but slowly slipped deeper into schizophrenia. I lost contact with Will during this time.
Will re-entered my life 10 years ago this month when he showed up on my porch looking for help getting treatment. It took some time, but he relentlessly pushed his way back up to emerge from the darkness that had overtaken him. Returning to his roots in the music, he went back to performing, both with backing bands and solo, and self-released a string of albums (Alone, Letters in the Wind, Wayward Lady) along the way.
The Weathering represents Will’s first studio recording in several years. Some songs date back awhile while some are brand new.
Will has never been an artist to stand still.
It’s a heartbreak album and it tracks like one. Embodying the whole “album” concept, the songs cycle us through the singer’s journey of the heart, not in a straight line, but in that sweet, stumbling way that embodies love in its restorative intoxicating wonder.
From the opening song, Life Moves On, through the final title song, The Weathering, Will opens his heart to us, spilling out secrets we all share: how love breathes life into us, along with pain and sorrow and memory and hope.
His lyrics do a much better job at that than I can, so I urge you to give the album a listen. Here to whet your appetite are a few snippets of lyrics:
That Isn’t Me Any More
They were talking and reminiscing,
But my old two cents’ worth was missing.
They couldn’t see — that isn’t me any more.
I’m still getting over, getting over a love —
A little bit colder but there’s a good times God above
And over my shoulder there’s a long road I’ve been down —
A drunken cupid was hanging around.
My hurting heart has been
Like cliff rock in the wind —
I’m making peace with the weathering.
Will performs The Weathering at the Cactus Cafe
(with David Ducharme-Jones)
The Weathering, Will T. Massey, 2016 — pre-order here and enjoy for years to come.