“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  ~Howard Thurman~


Escape from Nashville

Feature-length documentary & CD project

THE STORY: Among other current proposed film projects which I think are good, I had an epiphany recently about the project I really SHOULD be doing, based on my actual past accomplishments and strengths, which I feel holds the best prospects for myself and my investors:

The two areas where I've actually made some money and gotten some recognition are music & songwriting (see Wikipedia draft below), and documentaries. As the idea for this project came to me, I also realized that I have had the perfect domain name and title, "Dangerous Country", for years! **

So, the subject matter is the fascinating world of commercial country music songwriting. That is the very specific niche of writing songs intended to be cut by hit country artists, for CDs and radio play. This is a very lucrative field, with a hit country song representing upwards of a million dollars in value to the writer and publisher (apart from its value to the recording artist and record company). Here is a recent story from NPR about the value of song publishing in general.

As noted, this is a very specific niche of songwriting, not one which many (or most) singer/songwriters aspire to or are accomplished in, particularly outside of Nashville. That is not a value judgment; it's just a specific style and intention, and it happens to be what I've been focusing on and sharpening my skill in for all these decades. Of course judging what's a "commercial song" involves many interesting issues, aesthetic & cultural judgments, "what is" vs "what could be", etc...

So my proposed feature-length documentary involves visiting and profiling perhaps 6 or 8 New Mexico songwriters and a couple of their best "commercial country" songs, their songwriting process and their lifestyle. Framed, of course, with some of my own efforts and songs.

I expect I will be able to feature noted singers Trez Gregory (back-up singer for Brooks and Dunn; see below), and Kathy Chiavola demoing some of my songs, clips of Dave Barry talking about a mythical NM country star, perhaps an interview with legendary Tom T. Hall, and other features which will give it universal interest.

The best part of this is that the success of the project, for investors and all participants, does not depend entirely on the tricky business of success with audiences theatrically, on-line and with DVD sales, because investors will have a share of the publishing rights to all songs involved. This means that if this documentary gets even a limited amount of circulation in the right circles, some of the songs might actually get CUT and make a pile of money for everyone!

Best of all, being a documentary that I can pretty much shoot by myself by visiting songwriter friends and colleagues, it will be quite inexpensive to produce!   -Jim Terr, December 2009

** The BMI payments alone, for instance, on the song I had in the movie mentioned below, have amounted to many thousands of $. Likewise payments for the ad & video rights to the "E-Mail" song below.

(NOTE: Though very different, I would hope to end up with a film as interesting as "Lubbock Lights")

Videos with some relevance to this project...

(Trez Gregory)
(sings with Brooks & Dunn)

(videos relevant to my own songwriting & publishing)

"Girl Group Rumble"
(featuring several originals)

"Sing a Song of Snapple" (Real Audio) (!?)

By JT - the national favorite of that whole
campaign, according to the agency

2 JT compositions:

" This Changes Everything" 
Windows Media 
(Vocal by Kathy Chiavola

Slim Pickens "A Stranger in Nashville"

"Are We Havin' Spuds Yet?"


(Background): Draft of Jim Terr WIKIPEDIA listing, compiled with assistance of Tony Byworth,
co-editor of The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music (see bio below)

  British press release about Jim Terr - January 2010  


(January 2010)

Jim Terr (pronounced as in “termite”), American satirist, singer/songwriter, actor/director and video and documentary producer, born in Valley Stream (Long Island), New York, USA. Ironically born on same day and date as fellow actor/satirist Christopher Guest, fellow documentarian Errol Morris (and within 15 miles of their birth places), and actress Barbara Hershey. Has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1987.


Terr’s short videos on YouTube have totaled over 400,000 views to date [now over 850,000], with an unusual profile in that they comprise almost every genre from comedy to politics to documentary. His full-length, foundation-funded documentaries on the topics of World War Two veteran interviews (including author Tony Hillerman) and Holocaust survivors, as well as driving safety, manufacturing, and reading for pleasure, have gained national recognition.

A documentary in progress exploring local radio news features interviews with network news executives, reporters and such public figures as NPR host Scott Simon, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, humorist Dave Barry, Newsweek columnist Jonathan AlterAtlantic Monthly senior editor James Fallows, Hodding Carter, author and radio host Thom Hartmann, radio host Jim Bohannon, radio commentator Charles Osgood, and National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr.

He and his original song about country singer George Jones were featured in the 1988 film, And God Created Woman , starring Rebecca De Mornay and directed by Roger Vadim.


As a record producer, he has been closely associated with “outlaw” country singer/songwriter Steve Young, writer of the song, “Seven Bridges Road”, recorded by The Eagles, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge and others, and "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean" recorded by Waylon Jennings;  Kathy Chiavola, Junior Brown (as “J. B. Brown”, singer / guitarist with The Last Mile Ramblers in the 1970s); and actor Slim Pickens, for whom he produced an album which Rolling Stone Magazine called “The off-the-wall album of the year.”

That album, released under Terr’s Blue Canyon label, contained a version of the classic song, “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” which writer Guy Clark called his favorite version of the song, and which was later featured on a Rhino Records compilation. The album also contained two songs written by Kinky Friedman, and one of the first recorded compositions by Steve Earle.

His 1974 re-release of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road” album, purchased from Reprise Records, gained sales and critical acclaim sufficient to mark the last time Warner/Reprise ever sold the rights to an album outright.

Many of Terr’s early satires in the 1980s were featured on the  Doctor Demento national radio program, later on such programs as Paul Harvey News, G. Gordon Liddy, Mountain Stage, and the ABC, CBS, NBC and NPR networks; and later (to present) on the Thom Hartmann and Jim Bohannon radio shows. His 1994 novelty album, Chickenstock, a Jewish parody of Woodstock, won some national acclaim.

His CD releases of original material in 1999 and 2005 drew reviewer comparisons to Phil Ochs, Townes van Zandt, Loudon Wainwright III, Tom T. Hall, Tom Lehrer, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Jimmie Rodgers and Jackie Mason, Shel Silverstein, Tom T. Hall, Bobby Bare, Ray Stevens and Paul Craft. He is a particular fan of the songwriters Tom T. Hall and Bobby Braddock, having recorded several of their songs on earlier albums.

His alter-ego, crude country performer “BuDDy”, has been captured in several videos, and praised by such figures as humorist Dave Barry.  

As a music publisher in the 1970s, Terr published songs recorded by The Country Gentlemen, Hank Williams, Jr., and Crystal Gayle.

Website: www.JimTerr.com

Tony Byworth has been involved in country music for over 30 years. He edited the monthly magazine Country Music People for six years and was a contributing editor forBillboard, Music Week, and The Stage. In addition, he has written two books on country music including  The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, and is the recipient of the Country Music Association’s prestigious Wesley Rose (Foreign Media Achievement) Award. He lives in Hertfordshire, England.

(c) (TM) Jim Terr       Contact

COMMENTS on "DEMOS & DIAMONDS" by Jim Terr and Friends
(CD of original JT compositions)

"Some of the most thoroughly enjoyable tunes I've ever heard...tiny monuments to songwriting...For whatever elements came together to make the genius of Jim Terr and his music happen, we should be truly gleeful, grateful and gratified. 'Demos and Diamonds' is a square meal of music, a walk around town when all the lights are out and your first kiss, all over again."
      -Bill Hutchison,
      Santa Fe Reporter

New Mexico Singer/Songwriter Releases Debut CD after 27 Years in the Business! 
    This is one of the most enjoyable albums that I have listened to in ages. So country, so interesting and so entertaining. What more could one ask for from music? 
   [Jim Terr has been] described as a modern day Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Jimmie Rodgers and Jackie Mason rolled into one. Can I add to that list names like Shel Silverstein, Tom T. Hall, Bobby Bare, Ray Stevens and the likes--master wordsmiths all, and country boys too.
    This guy could quite easily make our stone country section on all counts. Yes, he is that good...this selection barely scrapes the surface of his huge talent...a killer songwriter and storyteller...
    ["Did It Hurt?"] I just cannot stop laughing... ["The Call"] I find it most delightful as I do the whole album...
    ...all of the guests give stellar performances...
         -Brian Ahern Country Music & More (UK)

A Late Starter! 
    ...an impressive line-up of guest artists from New Mexico, California, Hawaii and Nashville. These include "Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year" Kathy Chiavola, Elvis impersonator Lonnie Yanes, the late western actor Slim Pickens, country music trucking star Buddy Converse and the Sneakers, Sara Jo Rubenstein, and Lilia.
      -Country Music Round-Up (UK)

Terr's CD spans parody, eye-opening sincerity 
...Terr produced an entire album by [Slim] Pickens, including the Guy Clark song Desperadoes Waiting for a Train--which Clark says is his favorite cover version of any of his tunes.
      My favorite tune [on the CD] is a recent one--Reader's Digest Me... There's not a speck of cynicism in this song, no hipster sneer or yuppie smirk...Terr's simple sincerity in this song and one about his father's death (The Call, 1986) is eye-opening.
      -Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican, "Pasatiempo"

British Country Music Bulletin:
    An entertaining, description-defying collection... If one were to invite comparisons, you'd perhaps liken Jim Terr to Tom T. Hall, or, perhaps Paul Craft.

Comments on previous Jim Terr work:

"Wise, witty and whimsical (and sometimes sad)" -Tony Hillerman

"Bodacious" -Dave Barry

"Terr is clearly a menace to musical serenity, and we advise purists in all genres to keep their distance" -Ed Morris, BILLBOARD

"A cross between Tom Lehrer and Ray Stevens...sorely needed comedy in these uncertain times." -Country Music People (UK)

Comments on 2005 CD, Jim Terr & friends,
"Please Cut My Song, Mr. Travis"

"Combining comedy with tragedy, optimism with hopelessness and prolific wit with his favorite three chords, Jim Terr's songs are triumphant anthems to this difficult business of living. He shares equal territory with the folksy politicism of Phil Ochs, the sheer songwriting skill of Townes van Zandt, and the shamelessly naive sense of ironic humor ofLoudon Wainwright III."
   -Bill Hutchison, Anthologist's Cabinet

"Jim Terr's spirit shows through consistently in his songs... It's the droll, sardonic,
'cut-the-B.S.' outlook known around the world as American."
 -James Fallows 








Father, a physician, and mother, a John Robert Powers model, met in New York City and were married while father served in World War Two. Raised in Charlevoix, Michigan, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, with four siblings. Grandparents immigrated to US from Vitebsk (Belarus), Rostov-on-Don (Russia), and Kiev (Ukraine) in 1890s. Ancestors include Yiddish playwright Jacob Terr (collaborator with Boris Thomashevsky, grandfather of Michael Tilson Thomas) and great-uncles Max Terr, Al Terr and Michael Terr, all involved in acting and music in Hollywood from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Attended Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English literature and art education.