In 1970, a student journalist named Dale Van Atta wrote me up in The New Era Magazine as "Marvin Payne, a Mormon Troubadour." Back then, I saw and felt a lot of beautiful things around me, and with the passion typical of young artists, I had to try to share them. So about every nine months, I found myself "pregnant with an album," and "wa
In 1970, a student journalist named Dale Van Atta wrote me up in The New Era Magazine as "Marvin Payne, a Mormon Troubadour." Back then, I saw and felt a lot of beautiful things around me, and with the passion typical of young artists, I had to try to share them. So about every nine months, I found myself "pregnant with an album," and "was delivered" of (at this writing) eighteen, usually at the expense of hocking the family van. Most of these I peddled at little concerts across the U.S., and door-to-door to college kids in Utah. (I had a Gibson guitar in those years--pictured above--that was spider-webbed with finish cracks from walking in and out of warm apartments off snowy doorsteps.)
I teamed up with Guy Randle and wrote a lot of songs for some local musicians who, as a family activity, had become the most famous people on the planet, the Osmonds. They recorded some of the songs but most wound up on albums of mine. And together, Guy and I also pounded out "a magical story with songs" called The Planemaker, which made an actor out of me, though in those days I wouldn't admit it. (I'd known too many drama majors—about three.)
But in 1981, I was hired to write lyrics for the stage adaptation of a popular book, Charlie’s Monument, a kind of frontier "beauty-and-the-beast" yarn. Shortly before opening, we were still missing the lead actor (the beast). I was about the right height and knew the songs, so I agreed to stand in until we got an actor, which I hoped desperately would be within a couple of weeks.
Thing is, after twenty minutes of stumbling around in this impossibly challenging role on a huge stage in front of lots of people, I found myself thinking, "Wow! This is what I want to be when I grow up!" So I got off people's doorsteps and began working on many stages and film sets. (My most rewarding roles have been King Lear, Sweeney Todd, El Gallo in The Fantasticks, and the title role in Phantom, but I usually get recognized in the mall as the guy behind Daddy's nose in Saturday’s Warrior. Go figure.)
Somewhere in there, I enjoyed the publication of a couple of my novels and some poetry and several plays that were widely produced.
I loved working for years with my good friends Roger and Melanie Hoffman and Steven Kapp Perry in Peace Mountain Mediaworks. We made musical story adventures for children, like Scripture Scouts, in which I played a curious basset hound named Boo, The All About Family, in which I played Fred the dad, and Alexander’s Amazing Adventures, in which I played the story guy, Theo the faithful tortoise, and a couple of dozen others, from Marvin the Merciful Mosquito to Biff Battlehunk, the Heavyweight Friendliness Champion of the World.
In these latter times, the nearest thing I have to a "day gig" is teaching lots of people how to play guitar. It's easy, because I already know how.
I spend many hours weekly helping people with recording projects at Babymoon Recording, a Pro Tools studio I run out of the Utah Conservatory of Performing Arts building in American Fork, Utah. I suppose that's a little like a "day gig" as well.
This is starting to read like a resume, so let me get to (or return to) the point. I am still showered with saving grace, surrounded by visions of beauty, daily witness to kindness and heroism, and improbable hope.
And through all these little career shifts, I am still driven by a passion to share what I feel about it all. Some of what I feel is for sale because I have this addiction to food and shelter. Some of it is free for the clicking-on.
A thing I like about the internet idea is that, if you’re like me, you probably love to buy things but hate to be sold things. So imagine that I’m off somewhere on a walk (like the three bears), and here you are on my “home page.” (Is that a warm image, or what?) You are finding notes left behind for you. Imagine three bowls of porridge. Imagine also flowers and a candle.
I'll be looking for notes you leave behind, too.