The Buzz About
THE KNAPPS LIVED HERE
“It all begins with a song” the well worn battle cry of the Nashville,Tn music industry, has taken deep root in the work ethic of Nashville author Ken Spooner as The Knapps Lived Here, takes its place alongside his previous works, If The Devil Danced In Empty Pockets, He’d Have A Ball In Mine and “Long Ride On A Short Track”. But that should come as no surprise to those familiar with the songs the Long Island native has created, during his years as a Nashville tunesmith.” If The Devil Danced ...” his music industry memoir has a familiar ring, it might be because, it originally was a number one song for country singer Joe Diffie in the 1990s. A song simply titled Axel, a saga of colorful racing driver Axel Anderson, led to the writing of the Long Ride On A Short Track.
The Knapp book, now makes it three for three. Its fire-starter however, the folksy Buzz & Pee Wee, Butchie & Me is far different tune than Phoebe Knapp’s immortal hymn “Blessed Assurance”, which plays a part in this Knapp chronicle. Spooner says, “I think our stories and our songs harmonize quite nicely” The book’s history spans the years 1832 -1959, with leaps into the first decade of the 21st century throughout its pages, because the author enjoys taking the reader along for the discovery ride with him.
Buzz & Pee Wee .., a boyhood memoir story song, was inspired by the loss of Spooner’s closest Nashville co-writer, Walter Hyatt in the Valu-Jet disaster in 1996. That song, then became a series of online short stories in 2000. One story, about playing in an abandoned Knapp mansion in the 1950s and its senseless demise through neglect and arson, eventually would fill up Spooner’s time, sending him on a decade long journey down “Knapp Road” to discover just who the Knapps were. Because they were one of the highest society, lowest profile, historic and wealthy families to come from the gilded age, it took Spooner far longer to get the story than he ever dreamed it would. If the scope of the Knapp book can be compared to several long songs, think of Don Mclean’s, American Pie, Gordon Lightfoot’s, Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan’s, Like A Rolling Stone and Jimmy Webb’s, MacArthur Park combined.
“I never intended the Knapp story to be a book, yet questions, mysteries and many meta physical events, regarding them, just kept pulling me in deeper, until the light came on write a book about it all. The “all” completely overwhelmed me in the beginning, as did the untold stories of my sea side town of Mastic Beach, that was built in the 1920s on the borders of one of the Knapp’s private estates. Foolishly, I first thought I could encompass the entire Mastic area history, that harkens back to colonial America and one of the signers of the Declaration, into the Knapp book. As I discovered the multi facets of the Knapp’s personal and business lives, I chose to draw some lines and write separate books. “The Mastics from Blueblood to Blue Collar” is on target to be published in 2011 and just may be a book with no direct musical connections? Allthough I have been writing a series of instrumental pieces lately titled Elm & McKinley Suite that celebrates the roots of where I grew up. As for the way I put this unorthodox biography of the Knapps together, I have taken some sage advice from the songwriting team of Phoebe Palmer Knapp and Fanny Crosby. Their hook line in Blessed Assurance. “This is my story, This is my song” is the title of the book's afterword."