Hear Wayne's Song
"Just A Cowboy"
John Leonard Selzler (Veteran, Army & Air Force)
MusicWorks4Veterans Project Manager
Veterans Family Fund of America 501 (c)(3) Board Member
MW4V Music Program
MusicWorks4Veterans “Music Night” is a fun-filled, interactive music event that we host on a regular basis at Veteran facilities in the Puget Sound area. Our very first Music Night was held in the Fall of 2012 at Chilson Auditorium, Washington Soldiers Home in Orting. With this music program, Veterans are encouraged to be a part of the creative process of making music. This includes singing, clapping, percussion or any instrument they would like to play. Creative writing and storytelling are also welcomed. The important thing is to have fun and create music together. It’s an amazing experience for all and every event brings forth something beautiful and new. Wayne’s story is a wonderful example of this.
As a Veteran and longtime singer/songwriter with a desire to inspire fellow Veterans, I often introduce and play original songs during our program. Sometimes, I’ll share personal stories about what inspired me to write the song and I speak about how the creative process has benefitted me. That, through ups and downs, music and creating has been the one constant in my life that I can always count on. One evening at a Music Night event, one of our Veteran friends, Wayne, told me how he felt inspired by how I shared my own stories through song. He said he appreciated how MusicWorks4Veterans encouraged others to participate creatively. Wayne went on to tell me about lyrics he wrote many years ago and how he never really had the opportunity to put music to them. I asked him if he still had a dream to complete his song and he replied, “Yes”. When I asked if he would like for me to help him complete it by writing music to them, he replied, “Would you? I would love that!” But, Wayne also went on to say he had lost them in a move and he wasn’t sure if he could recall them. I offered encouragement while challenging him to see it as a fun exercise. That he might be surprised how much he may remember once he began. Wayne said he would give it a try.
After three month’s time and my having made a few special trips to visit Wayne, he surprised me one evening. Just before one of our Music Night performances, he handed me a page with complete lyrics titled, “Just A Cowboy”. He told me it may not be exact, but I'll tell you, he did an excellent job. As a matter of fact, Wayne did such a fine job that I had no trouble at all creating the music for it. After playing a version of it for him, he exclaimed that he loved it. He also liked the idea of having us perform it for our audiences during our MW4V Music Nights. Now, Wayne's song, "Just A Cowboy", is a favorite among his peers and the staff while gaining in popularity around the local community. It is a wonderful piece of work and Wayne is finally getting the recognition his deserves with it.
Wayne’s story with MusicWorks4Veterans and the whole process to bring his song to where it is now is quite amazing. Especially when considering the benefits. Here is a man who had an old dream rekindled and brought to reality. Along the way he was challenged to recollect what he was afraid might have been forgotten. Having the support and encouragement to treat it as a healthy exercise and to recall something he was once quite fond of, helped to spark confidence in his ability to do so. Coupling his creation with music helped to complete his dream. Now Wayne, who in the beginning only occasionally attended our MusicWorks program, now attends whenever he is able. Once he began to see and hear the MW4V team perform his song during Music Night, we could see him beaming with pride and joy over his song. Then, with the blessings of his family and caregivers, Wayne and I entered his song as a co-authorship in the VA’s annual National Creative Arts Festival, winning Blue Ribbon honors in the State of Washington! Now, when we perform “Just A Cowboy” at Music Night, our MusicWorks4Veterans Band accompanies Wayne as he takes the microphone to sing his song. He has a wonderful singing voice and we all love hearing him sing. What remarkable progress. Now, with Wayne’s blessings, MusicWorks4Veterans Band performs “Just A Cowboy” with promotional and fundraising efforts, fulfilling his desire to do good work with it.
Wayne’s story is one of several stories derived using this creative approach and is another great example of how Music Works for Veterans. Please continue to follow MusicWorks4Veterans ventures as we progress towards making this project and programs available and accessible for more and more Veterans. We appreciate your support.