This 2002 interview may be the most in-depth one we've ever had. 
Sadly, the interviewer, Mark Harris, passed away a couple of years ago. 
We will always be grateful for the interest, effort, 
and skill he brought to the occasion. 
Thanks, Mark. 

Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan 

*     *     * 


It all started in a Buffalo hospital in the 40's when John and Mary 
(Blanchard) gave birth to son Jack. The second component came a 
couple of years later in the same hospital, when a different John and 
Mary (Donahue) gave birth to their daughter Mary. 

As children, both probably looked a lot alike - both had brown hair and 
blue eyes and both trace their ancestry to the Alsace-Lorraine area of 
Europe (between France and Germany). Jack's heritage was all 
European. Mary had a little bit of Native American in her genes - and 
along the way, she became Misty. 

Both were in unhappy marriages and had, for awhile, lived in Southern 
Ohio. Despite nearly identical beginnings, Jack and Misty never met 
each other until they were both playing piano in adjacent clubs a 
thousand miles from Buffalo in the 60's in Hollywood - Florida, that is. 

By that time, Jack had been in the music business for almost ten years. 
The doo-wop vocal quartet he belonged to in his youth - the Dawn 
Breakers - had even once recorded for the Decca Records subsidiary 
that had also released many Buddy Holly hits (Coral Records). Later, 
Blanchard headed other groups, namely Jackie Blanchard & The 
Rockin' Impalas and The Jack Blanchard Group. 

Misty Morgan was, during the 60's, a pioneering woman in the music 
industry, producing her own records (she was the first woman to 
produce a #1 country song) and incorporating the "electronic" sound 
into her keyboard arrangements - something everyone in the business 
seemed to be doing some twenty years later. Her onstage show at the 
time consisted of more jazz-oriented stuff, like Louis Prima and Keely 
Smith did in the 50's. 

You'll recognize her as Jacqueline Hyde and Maryanne Mail, both 
pseudonyms she used in the 60's. Or maybe you won't. :-) 

The fact is, no matter how good the Rockin' Impalas or Maryanne Mail 
were, no one outside of local fans knew of them until after the 
principals teamed together in 1967 as Jack Blanchard & Misty 
Morgan. In 1969, they achieved a minor hit with Big Black Bird (Spirit 
Of Our Love), which reached #59 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles 
chart. An earlier single, Bethlehem Steel had failed to chart. 

But they had cracked the charts, and #59 wasn't that bad of a start. So 
they released their next single, Changin' Times. More exquisite 
harmony, like Big Black Bird, and a song with a message. But the 
charts and radio ignored it. Just when it looked like Jack & Misty 
might've become a one-barely-hit wonder act, they decided to release 
an absolutely silly song Jack had written called Tennessee Birdwalk. 
The song topped out at #1 on the country charts and #23 on the pop 

Everyone seemed to be ing along with Jack & Misty that 
summer. By the way, the wah-wah guitar used to effect the sounds of 
the birds walking southward in dirty underwear was the first usage of 
such an instrument in a country hit. Not only were Jack & Misty on top 
of the charts, but they were trailblazing as they did it. 

Tennessee Birdwalk earned the duo a Grammy nomination 
and played on radio stations throughout that summer, 
eventually staying on the charts for 19 weeks. 
While that's a mid-range chart ride these days, 
in 1970 it was quite an extended stay. 

The next single would be even more critical than would 
help determine whether Jack & Misty's career would be a flash in the 
pan or a real thing. Sticking with the novelty tune concept, 
they decided to release Humphrey The Camel in June. 
Personally, this writer thinks this song was even funnier 
than the big one earlier in the year. It went to #5 on the country charts. 
How DOES Jack make the "authentic camel love call" 
without tearing his vocal chords to shreds, anyway? 

In explanation of his uncanny ability to write novelty songs that remain 
funny and un-dated after many years (a talent shared with few others, 
Ray Stevens & Roger Miller most notably), Jack says, 
"Silliness runs in my family. We all used to sit on our front porch 
and make smart aleck cracks about the people passing by. 
We were always trying to top each other, and I didn't always win". 

"I worked for awhile as a stand-up comic", Blanchard continues. 
"I can't resist a funny ad lib. Misty's pretty funny, too. 
People look for meanings in our funny songs. 
They often tell us meanings we didn't even know were there." 

The next hit was a change of pace. No deep meanings, no funny 
concepts, just your standard cover of a pop song, which was often 
done (and still is) by country singers of the era. 
But for a change, the cover ended up sounding better than the original. 
In 1965, the Fortunes had taken You've Got Your Troubles (I've Got Mine) 
to #7 on the pop charts. In 1970, Jack and Misty hit the Top 30 country charts 
with their own version. 

At this point, their career was dealt a low blow when the label that had 
released their big hits of the past year went bankrupt. An album had 
been released about the same time as Humphrey The Camel, titled 
Birds Of A Feather. It hit #16 on the country album charts (#185 Pop), 
yet Jack & Misty never saw a penny from royalties on either the album 
or the singles. 

Eventually they took matters into their own hands and, pre-dating 
independent record distribution methods like Napster and, 
they took the recordings from the Birds Of A Feather album and had a 
private pressing made and sold them at their concerts and 
appearances, finally realizing some reward from their recordings, 
however small. 

It's important to realize how revolutionary it was at the time for them to 
take control over their own recordings. Traditionally (and as they would 
still have you believe), record companies claim all ownership of 
everything they ever release. It doesn't matter that the artist pays 
for the session time in the studio, the recording process, 
the session players, the promotion, and (as Jack likes to say) 
even pays for the label owner's sister's nose job. More on this later. 

After the Wayside bankruptcy, Misty & Jack signed with a new 
up-and-coming label, Mega Records. They were on the label's roster 
with other rising stars such as Sammi Smith, Brian Collins, Patsy 
Sledd, Henson Cargill, and Ray Pillow. 
Mega seemed to allow an artist a little more breathing room 
to step outside the boundaries then established by the big labels; 
one good example was Sammi Smith's Help Me Make It Through The Night. 
Never before had a female vocalist been allowed to record 
and release a song so frankly and overtly sexual. 
You may remember the song ended up being 1971's CMA 
Song Of The Year, hitting #1 on the country charts and #8 on the pop charts. 

It was during their term at Mega Records that Jack was given his 
nickname "the Velvet Saw". One of the Mega promotion men, Tom 
McConnell, came up with it as an apt description for Jack's voice. 
Jack adds, "and all this time I thought I was Bing Crosby!" 
These days, the nickname serves as the name for the duo's own record label - 
Velvet Saw Records. 

Jack and Misty were ready to start recording again. The environment 
in which they would be working this time really seemed conducive 
to their own outside-the-box sensibilities. The first song for Mega re-visited 
Jack's ability to write songs with meaning and feeling, 
as There Must Be More To Life (Than Growing Old) 
hit the charts as a two-sided hit. The other side followed 
in the vein of their two big hits on Wayside, showing the duo's sillier side. 
Titled Fire Hydrant #79, the song was an ode to a fire hydrant 
"all stumpy and red / we love you tho' you got no hair on your head". 

The two-sided record did well considering the label had a small 
promotion staff and no national distribution contract with a bigger label, 
as Wayside Records had had with Smash/Mercury Records. 
The public definitely preferred the more serious side this time, 
and now some thirty years later, most listeners seem to appreciate the duo 
more for their serious songs than the silly ones that did much better 

In fact, in 2001, There Must Be More To Life (Than Growing Old) was 
again released (the original Mega recording) as a single and helped 
propel the duet to being the #4 independent recording artists in the 

No wonder - the song remains a timeless paean to melancholy, 
hopelessness, and despair. That feel is reflected not only in the words, 
but the sound. No wah-wah guitars here. In reflection, Jack Blanchard 
says this about the song: "It reflects a hopeless time in our lives, 
before we'd even met. I worked in the dirty factories and waded 
through the brown slush. We were each in a previous marriage 
that was not happy. When writing that song, I put myself back in that time, 
and the title was just the way I felt." 

In early 2002, another re-release of a "serious" song recorded in the 
early Mega days did well for the duo. Somewhere In Virginia In The 
Rain hit the Top 5 on the indie charts, climbing about ten positions 
further than the original single did in 1971. Another song from their 
Mega album, Rings Of Gold, went to #1 on the indie records charts in 

When asked if it was ever determined just where the singer had been 
in Virginia, Jack answers, "We both love the state of Virginia. I think it 
was probably somewhere near Roanoke". I asked if the song was 
written from personal experience, amd Jack goes on to explain, "It 
comes from places I've been in. Not exactly, but there are elements of 
my experiences in it. Misty does a big part of the arrangements after I 
write the songs, and we both like that sort of 'traveling music' feeling." 

Lest you think that lovely Misty Morgan sits back and lets her outgoing 
wordsmith husband talk for the duo, you'd be mostly right (grin)! 
She's the more quiet, contemplative half of the duo, 
but doesn't hesitate putting in her feelings when asked to do so. 
When asked why she never played on her exquisite beauty 
to help their music career like so many female singers do today.... 
"I believe that music is an art and should be carried on its own merit. 
Nobody cares how Rembrandt or Picasso looked. Their art speaks for 
itself." Misty continues, "I really don't like the way they are selling sex 
instead of the music today. It suggests something may be lacking in 
the music." 

Misty also takes the mic when it comes to explaining the duo's 
longevity - a 35 year working-together marriage that has outlasted all 
the other Nashville duet marriage/partnerships except for Kitty Wells 
and Johnny Wright. Misty explains, "We are opposites in many ways. I 
am intuition, Jack is logic. We mesh like two gears, or jigsaw puzzle 
pieces. We feel that each has what the other lacks. 
We never run out of conversation and ideas...we have fun together. 
And one more thing: 

When asked if they will still be pickin' and singin' together into their 
80's just like Kitty and Johnny still are, they simultaneously answer with 
a resounding YES. "We will probably be found dead onstage in front of a mic 
at the age of 101." 

Actually, touring is not high on their list of things to do anymore. "We 
don't do as many shows as we'd like. We really enjoy doing our live 
shows. We've done a show in Nashville, a few in Florida lately. We're 
waiting to hear from an agent in Pennsylvania. Call us if you need us 

Perhaps one of the reasons they don't tour as much as they used to is 
that Jack has a side business these days, restoring old vinyl from his 
and Misty's recordings, as well as for a slew of other artists. 

"I use a turntable, cassette deck, computer and CD burner for 
hardware, along with a number of complex software programs such as 
CoolEdit Pro, Pristine Sounds, Sound Forge, Sonic Foundry, Cubase, 
Steinberg, and a bunch of exotic plug-ins," says Blanchard. "I also 
wash the records with dish detergent and blow them dry before I start. 
Sometimes I have to splice together good parts from more than one 
copy of a record to make a good whole one." 

Besides Jack and Misty records, he's working on old recordings by 
artists like Mayf Nutter, Dick Shuey, Erin Hay, Marvin Rainwater, Pat 
Garrett, Ernie Ashworth, Hal Willis, Hermann Lammers Meyer, Shirley 
Frederickson, Kenny Roberts, Marty Martel, Vernon Oxford, and one 
little-known artist who many are just now discovering and enjoying, 
Jackie Burns. Jack's restoration work on her records should be 
released on CD before the end of the year. 

(Burns' low-range chart hits from the early 70's included songs like (If 
Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right, which is in current 
rotation on our Internet radio station iCCC, and One Big Unhappy 
Family. It's good to see that she's now being re-discovered.) 

In addition to restoration work, Jack also does non-restorative, digital 
mixing and mastering for record labels. For any such work, contact him here. 
(There's your commericial, Jack!) 

Meanwhile, back on the ranch of the Legendary Chicken Fairy, Jack 
and Misty were continuing to record their special kind of music at 
Mega, having a hit about that big canary that made "all your dreams 
come true". The novelty tunes were fewer and fewer as the years went 
by (notable exception, Washin' Harry Down The Sink...they didn't care 
what people'd think). 

The contemplative side of Jack's writing skills was still putting them on 
the charts with songs like Second Tuesday In December and A 
Handful of Dimes. The train was still riding smoothly on its rails when - 
BLAM - Mega Records also went bankrupt and they were once again 
without a label....but not for long. 

Instead of signing with another small independent label, they took the 
bait held out to them by überlabel Epic Records, home of Tammy 
Wynette, George Jones, Joe Stampley, Charlie Rich and others, and 
part of the Columbia Records (Ray Price, Johnny Cash, Lynn 
Anderson) family. Singles continued to chart during the Epic years, 
(Just One More Song, Something On Your Mind, Down To The End Of 
The Wine, Because We Love, I'm High On You) but soon, it became 
apparent how a major label could cause as many (but different) 
problems for an act as a small, tenuously financed indie like Wayside 
and Mega could. 

Management at these major labels changes rather rapidly, and soon 
the label was being run by new staff members, and the "not invented 
here" syndrome took over. Jack and Misty were soon forgotten about. 
"We did have an Epic album...they sent us the acetate advance copy, 
but it never came out," explains Jack and Misty. "Those major labels 
don't even know they have those masters - if they haven't erased them 
to make tape space." 

After a jump to another major (but smaller) label - United Artists - 
yielded no hit singles, it was back to a string of small indie labels, then 
the public just stopped hearing about the duo altogether about 1980. 

What happened? Jack explains, "Misty was very ill in the late 70's due 
to bad results from a minor operation. We had to drop out for a couple 
of years. When we tried to get back into the Nashville scene, we found 
that we'd lost our place in line. 

During the 80's, we played a jazz circuit in clubs and casinos in New 
York state, Atlantic City, and Miami. The new suits in country music 
didn't remember us and didn't care. Fortunately, Misty is multi-talented. 
She plays great jazz piano. I play bass and we had a drummer. 
We worked with jazz artists such as Earl "Fatha" Hines, 
Marian MacPartland, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow and others. 
We also have a non-country CD titled Masters Of The Keyboard." 

Now, all of Jack and Misty's old and new recordings are available on 
their own Velvet Saw Records. E-mail them for more information, or 
visit this page on their web site. 

As noted earlier, Jack and Misty are in the thick of the current fight 
over use of new technologies in the music industry 
and artist control over their recordings. 
They speak freely about their part in the fight, "We liked Napster. 
It got a lot of music out to our fans, which is the most important thing to us. 
Even though we were the #4 indie recording artists worldwide in 2001, 
we didn't make any money from it. That's OK. 
We just want the world to know our music." 

Jack expands on that, "I hope all good artists who have had their life's 
work stifled by major labels will start pirating their own music. If they 
(the major labels) sue us, what will they get? We're not getting rich at it, 
but life is short and good music MUST be heard at all costs." 

When asked about the travesty known as CARP (the Copyright 
Arbitration Royalty Panel) whose recommendations are being 
discussed and may soon be voted into law (the act that makes 
independent internet radio stations such as ours pay DOUBLE the 
royalty rate that established radio stations pay for use of the same 
recordings on the airwaves), Misty explains, "We think it's terrible. 
(CARP) framers and supporters should be ashamed - and stopped. 
Boycott their music." 

"A lot of our current airplay is on Internet stations. We want it to stay 
that way. Rather than being the death of non-mainstream music, 
CARP and the related DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) 
may cause a boom in pirating, which would be great. We have a friend who 
operates a well-known pirate radio station in Ireland. His station has 
been popular for years. They can't arrest us all!" 

When asked if there's anything they would like to tell their fans, the 
couple at first answers, "not much", but then go on to say "we never 
make a record thinking about what is commercial. We make music for 
people who like Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan music. Some of our 
music is traditional, some is not. We use all the chords and instruments 
we feel a song needs. We'd rather be controversial than ignored. 
We do country music by choice, not by limitation. 
It suits our voices and lyrics." 

Ever the gallant and loving husband, Jack also wants everyone to know 
that Misty has co-written several of their songs. 

Lastly he quotes his old friend Roger Miller by saying, 
"I don't like to put a fence around music". When I noted that he was the second 
artist that CCC has featured who mentioned Roger Miller in an interview, 
Jack sent an essay he wrote just after Miller's passing in 1992. 
I'd like to reproduce it here with Jack's permission. 
He titled it... 

"A Stupid Human Trick" 

When I was trying to figure how this voice of mine, 
and the way I write songs 
would fit into the music business, 
Roger Miller was a great help to me. 
His voice and style of writing were in the same category as mine: None. 

My first few country songs had a strong Miller influence 
 Most people didn't hear it, but I did. 
I was and am a Roger Miller fan. 
I don't know why, but "Engine #9" is my favorite. 
It doesn't have the depth of "Husbands and Wives", 
but it is a minimalist gem. 
Simple is good. 

Every word, every phrase in his songs 
adds something to the whole. 
No fill ins. 
That's what I've always tried for in my work. 
Any word that doesn't add something, erase it. 
I learned a lot from him. 

Misty and I were doing a session at Columbia Studio B. 
Roger's session in studio A was already going on. 
We took a few minutes and watched through the window in the door. 
I remember hearing him say over the microphone, 
"Let's go, folks. We're losin' light". 

Right in the middle of our session Roger walked in, 
carrying a brief case, and stood by the door, listening. 
I stopped everything and told Misty I had to go meet Roger Miller 
and tell him what a fan I was. 

Just as I approached him with my hand out, 
he said,  "Hi, Jack. I'm a fan of yours." 
One of the best moments of my life. 

The last time I saw him was at a party he hosted 
at the King of the Road Motel. 
He wove through the crowd to greet us 
and we got talking. 
He must have heard one of our interviews, 
because he asked me what I meant 
when I said that he was responsible for me getting into country music. 

Here's where the stupid human trick comes in. 
I will never know why, but I said this: 
"I was just trying to get your attention." 

He looked at me funny and drifted off into the crowd. 

I could have told him all that I've told you here, 
but I didn't. 

And now I never can. 

--Jack Blanchard 

Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan have now been married, both in life 
and in music, for 35 years. They've been through and still have hard 
times, recently losing a beloved family member. Yet, through all of it, 
they strike me as two of the happiest, most satisfied people in the 
industry. Yes, I'm sure love has lots to do with it, as Misty says, but I 
think it's also their ability to look at life from many different angles, their 
ability to use words to convey all those angles to us, their fans, and the 
knowledge that they've done their best to add something to all of our 
lives, making it a little easier to digest. 

Their current re-release of There Must Be More To Life hits #19 on the 
IndieWorld charts. They are also at position #12 on the Top Trax 
Traditional Country Music chart with their newest single, It Seems Like 
There Ain't No Goin' Home, on Stardust Records. Stardust has plans 
to re-release Fire Hydrant #79 this month. Their career continues. 

Let's hope they keep singing "Just one more song.....together". 

Make sure you visit Jack & Misty's website 

For more insight into what makes Jack Blanchard the man he is, take 
some time to read some of the essays he's written over the past 
thirty-some years. Since she's one of his favorite subjects, 
you'll learn a lot more about Misty during your read, too! 

Mark Harris, 2002.

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