This month BC Magazine will be shining the spotlight big and bright on one of the most substantial songwriters in country music, Hal Ketchum. Known for crafting stories of life, love, joy and heartache, he also has a unique voice and the songs he sings are distinctively his, whether he wrote them or not, and often immediately recognizable. As if this wasn't creative release enough, Ketchum is also a painter and sculptor, his work is shown at the Pena Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as a carpenter, building everything from cabinets to a back porch on his home.
I remember the first time I heard a Hal Ketchum song on the radio – or maybe I saw the video on CMT. It was his first charting single in 1991, "Small Town Saturday Night," and it struck something deep and the realisms made me smile. Even though I was born in a large city, Detroit MI, my parents moved my brothers, sister and me two hundred miles away to a small town devoid of crime and traffic. To a pre-teen it was also devoid of anything fun. With a population of 1,200, give or take a half dozen, it was a laid back and peaceful place for my parents and mind-numbingly boring for a teenager.
So when Ketchum sings in "Past the Point of Rescue" of teenagers "being bad to have a good time" or "The world must be flat / 'cause when people leave town they never come back," from that same young point of view, I could relate. Of course as an adult, I can see the appeal my parent's did, but that wasn't where the song was coming from. With that first encounter, I was drawn to his music and with each subsequent single from Past the Point of Rescue, "I Know Where Love Lives," "Past The Point Of Rescue," and the cover of the Vogues hit, "Five O'Clock World", the place for Hal Ketchum in my music collection was cemented.