The last time I won anything was 1978 when my mom entered me into the O BEE Credit Union drawing contest. I was nine. My entry was a cartoon honey bee holding up one finger and proclaiming, “O BEE careful…with your money!”
My honeybee was a blatant rip-off of the credit union’s mascot at the time, but the words were mine. I won first place in the 3rd grade division which paid a cool twenty bucks.
Fast-forward forty two years to last week when I got a call from Joey Minkowitz at
American Songwriter telling me I had won Lukas Nelson’s signature ’56 Gibson Les Paul Jr! All I did was sign up for a subscription to the magazine and they threw my name into a hat. A giant worldwide hat. Unbelievable.
After Joey and I celebrated for a minute he asked if I would write a short testimonial on what it is I like the most about American Songwriter.
For me, it’s two things. The first is the lyric contest. Simply put, it’s the best contest of its kind. There’s one every two months and the prizes and exposure you receive are legit. Contests are my favorite writing tool because they force me to write. Give me plenty of time and I’ll waste it, but put me on the clock and I’ll get it done.
The other thing I like most about this magazine is the unique window it provides into the song writer’s mind. I’ve always been a sucker for a little backstory and when I hear an artist talk about method, or self doubt, or where a song comes from…it humanizes them. And that gives me confidence.
Years after my O BEE Credit Union win, my mom confessed to me something she
couldn’t when I was nine. I was the lone entry in the third grade division, the only horse in the race. I won, simply because I entered.
Still, I think back on that bee with pride. I put time and thought into it. Sweat equity in
anything forms a sort of bond. Build a house, paint a landscape, write a song, it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t have to win a contest either. It will always mean something to you.
Plus I believe that plagiarized honeybee sent me on a path to this testimonial, giving me a chance to connect with you all, while sitting here next to my new guitar! (I honestly couldn’t have picked a cooler guitar).
Thank you to American Songwriter and especially Joey Minkowitz. Your genuine
happiness for me is one of my favorite traits in people. That and someone who makes me feel like I’m slightly funnier than I really am.
Sincerely, Mark S Jones RIPJP
Oh, here is his O BEE winner!