March 15, 2011

VBT-Marvin Wilson -Author of Between the Storm and the Rainbow

Today, in a departure from the children's book world, I am happy to be featuring Marvin Wilson, author of Between the Storm and the Rainbow. Marvin, what is this book about?

This book is based on Between the Storm and the Rainbow, the internationally popular award-winning Free Spirit blog. It is an anthology of the best of the best posts that will inspire you, stimulate your deep thoughts and emotions and also give you plenty of laughter. Read the spiritual/inspirational writings of author Marvin D Wilson and join the global community of readers who count on their daily dose of Free Spirit.

This sounds very interesting, Marvin. Please give us an excerpt from your book.

Freedom through Discipline

(August 31, 2008)

I was able to go to college on a music scholarship. My father was a poor Christian minister, and had I not been born with the gift of music, the advantage of higher education would have been denied me. Thanks to my God-given talents, I was able to go. I was a music major with a thespian minor at Central Michigan University. At age eighteen, I thought I knew everything. I had talent, intelligence, youthful bold confidence and a brash attitude, and a social/political/religious view of our world (this was the late 1960's, mind you) that was one of "I know everything." And anyone who disagreed with me (especially my parents and any authority figures in the older generation, those despicable leaders of the hypocritical oppressive "Orwellian - big brother" government of the times), were dead wrong. I was a "Free Spirit," venturing forth into a brave new world that me and my Hippie friends were forging with our new lifestyle, our drugs, sex and rock and roll religion of freedom.

In my freshman year at college, I met Professor Stephen Hobson. He was my choir director and my private lesson voice coach. He looked to me to be in his late sixties. He was (well, he seemed to me at the time) stodgy and stiff, and a strict disciplinarian. He demanded of me a level of self-discipline and rigorous diurnal practice regimen that I was completely without the ability to understand, let alone adhere to. One little flutter in-between voice registers, any tiny slippage in tonal and/or pitch control when singing my assigned lessons in his torture chambers he called a "practice room" every Wednesday, he would stop playing his piano accompaniment, look at me with this "you know as well as I that that was not good enough" expression and demand that I try it again. Over and over … until I got it perfect. Perfect according to his obnoxious elitist opinion.

I couldn't stand that man. He was asking way too much of me, and for no good reason. I did not see the need for such a tyrannical imposition of discipline on me and my life, my singing, my anything. I was writing songs about freedom and liberty, gigging at night in my rock and roll band, getting over to thunderous applause at the hands of my Hippie peers, why did I need discipline? I was a one-of-a-kind talent; my uninhibited, serendipitous, wild and natural style was destined to become the standard for future generations. Professors in decades to come would teach their students how to emulate ME!

Ah, but those of you with any substantial life experience can guess the rest of the story. I never "made it" as a big impact famous rock and roller. I eventually wound up playing for modest money in little disco bars, playing live juke-box cover tunes for young people to get drunk to and screw each other. But I had learned something along the way.

I learned that in order to become "free" with anything, any pursuit, any hobby, any career, any craft, any aspiration of great accomplishment, you had to go through the discipline first. I never made it as a big name musician, but I did learn how to play my instrument. To this day, I am free when I pick up a guitar. I can express emotions, elevate my consciousness, get all heaven-bound and glorified, and anyone around me will experience the same thing I am feeling. It's a miracle I can produce, at any time, in any place, on any guitar of reasonable quality. But it took years and years of discipline to reach that plateau. Years and years of overcoming sore fingertips and blistered split open calluses, learning the scales, studying the modes, practicing the positions, emulating the recordings artists, getting so familiar with the neck I owned it as an extensions of my hand.

Towards the end of my bar-playing nightclub career, Professor Stephen Hobson came out to see my band. I had called him, letting him know we were playing in his town that week. Even so, I was surprised to see him in the audience – remember, this is a classical musician, a prim and proper professor, a patron of the fine arts, someone who goes to operas and symphony performances. For him to go to a dance club and listen to a top forty band was rather impressive.

And you know what? He was impressed with our performance. I went and sat at the table with him and his wife after the second set and he was beaming. He had wonderful accolades to bestow upon me and my ensemble, complimenting the vocals, the arrangements, our use of dynamics, our overall command of our instruments. And it was then that I told him what I had wanted to say for several years. I told him that I finally understood what discipline meant, what its value was. I knew, I told him, that undertaking the arduous discipline of any given art or craft was the necessary and ONLY way to get free within that art or craft. I told him that I finally appreciated what he had been trying to get through to my thick headstrong skull all those years ago. I knew I had been a special student to him, he had a great amount of belief in my talent, and I also knew I had been a disappointment to him, because he never “got through to me” when I was under his tutelage. I apologized to him for that shortcoming and assured him that his teaching had stuck with me all these years and had now been realized in my life and practice.

The now retired Professor Stephen Hobson's eighty-year-old eyes filled up. He said, and I quote, "Then my life, my career, has been worth it!"

We hugged. Long and sincere. That was the last time I ever saw him. He died a couple years later. I will never forget Professor Stephen Hobson and what he taught me about applying discipline to my life in order to get beyond boundaries and break free.

It applies to relationships and marriage, to any career, to any sport, to any hobby, to any life pursuit whatsoever. If you want to eventually be free, you must initially go through the discipline. It may sound like an oxymoron, "Freedom through Discipline," it did to me as a young Hippie, but it makes perfect sense to me now.

God bless and keep you, Professor Stephen Hobson. Your legacy, your teaching, lives on.



“I stumbled upon Marvin’s blog clearly by accident and found his words to be like verbal magnets pulling me into this world he inhabits. It is a terrain full of wisdom, humor, homespun philosophy, good common sense, a poetic sensibility and uncommon spirituality. Reading this man’s work makes it easy to become a confirmed ‘Marvaholic!’”

-L.M. Ross, poet, and author of Manhood and The Moanin’ After

“Marvin Wilson’s award-winning Free Spirit blog not only surprises and shocks you; it tells it like it is, with a generous dollop of love.”

-Jean Henry Mead, author of A Village Shattered and Escape

“I can count on one of three things from my daily visit to Free Spirit … a smile, a feeling of spiritual growth or something to make me think deeply. Many days, they are all rolled into one.”

-Joyce A. Anthony, author of Storm

“It’s an adventure reading what Marvin Wilson writes on Free Spirit since you never know what to expect from him, other than something that will delight, amuse, enrich or inspire!”

-Connie Arnold, poet, and author of Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace and Abiding Hope and Love

You can find Marvin’s book at the following stores:

Direct from publisher:

On Amazon:

You an also follow Marvin’s Free Spirit blog url at:

Thanks for stopping by Marvin and for giving us a chance to get to know you and your book.


Margaret Fieland said...

Kevin, terrific interview. Marvin, loved the excerpt. I play the flute and the piccolo -- strictly amateur -- but I do understand where you are coming from. The father of a good friend of the family encouraged me to keep playing as an adult amateur -- he was one himself -- and it made a world of difference to me.


Donna M. McDine said...


What a lovely tribute to your old professor. To give and receive such admirable words is absolutely heart warming.

Best wishes,

Joyce Anthony said...

Kevin, thanks for hosting Marvin today--his words are those that belong in so many areas. Marvin, even if I've read a piece before, it never fails to touch me!

Stephen Tremp said...

Go Chippewas! A mans gift will make a way for him. I hope you and your Shiloh family will receive all new instruments to replace the ones that were recently stolen. Have a great week!

The Old Silly said...

Kevin, thank you for such a fine job with this feature post, sir!

Margaret, appreciate the comment, truly when you have mentors in your life to push and guide you to greater heights, you are blessed, hmm?

Donna - Thank you, and yes, Prof. Hobson deserves all the props I can give him. He was a great teacher.

Joyce, what can I say - you know I love you! :-)

Stephen - did you go to CMU? And thanks for the well wishes for retrieving our stolen musical equipment. Lord knows we need them!

Marvin D Wilson

Cactus Annie said...

Hi, Kevin - I followed The Old Silly over here from his Free Spirit blog - which I have followed and loved for years. I bought Between the Storm and the Rainbow when it first came out, and still read it - so inspiring! It's kind of like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book - only a great mixture of blog post with everything from humor, spiritual/inspirational, to thought-provoking, to interview with great artists/minds. I highly recommend it to anyone!

Love your blog, Kevin, I'll have to check out your books, too!

And Marv - you KNOW I love you, Old Silly! :)

The Old Silly said...

Cactus, thanks so much, hun ... you know, if I had a few thousand fans like you I could retire in wealth by now, lol. Would you marry me? (wink)

Marvin D Wilson

Stanley said...

Hey cool blog. I'm a big Old Silly fan, read Storm and Rainbow and loved it. Nice feature post - this essay is one of my favorites from the book! :)

Kevin McNamee said...

Thanks everyone for all the great comments and thank you Marvin for being such a great guest. This was a very interesting feature and a lot of fun to do.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Let's hear it for Marvin! Even if he's ditching class today...

The Old Silly said...

Stan - you da man, bro! :-)

Kevin - my pleasure to be here, and thanks again!

Alex - this does NOT excuse you from next Tuesday's class at Free Spirit, ya know! ;-)

Marvin D Wilson

Magdalena Ball said...

Sounds like an interesting read Marvin. Hard to remember that blogs have only really taken hold within the past decade or less even. I hope your book does wonderfully well.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great interview, Kevin and Marvin! And I love the excerpt--so true that we have to have discipline before we can become free to successfully create.

Arlee Bird said...

Having read two of Marvin's books so far I can vouch for the fact that he is an excellent writer and knows how to spin a good story. This piece from the book was something I could identify with having been thru similar cirmcumstances and being about the same age as Marvin. Good to hear about this book and thanks Kevin for hosting Marvin.

Tossing It Out

The Old Silly said...

Magdalena, thanks for the kind words. I got serious about blogging, oh ... about 6 years ago, when it occured to me that it was not some passing fad. Bloggers are the modern day journalists and essayists, hmm? And Free Spirit enjoyed such success that my publisher actually proposed the idea of publishing an anthology of the 'best of the best' posts. Pretty cool.

Elizabeth, having followed your GREAT blog and writing advice/coaching posts, I KNOW that you understand the importance of Discipline. :-)

Arlee, thanks so much again for your support. As two guys with a lot in common, the admiration is mutual, my friend!

kathy stemke said...

Okay, Marvin, your blog excerpt made me cry. It reminded me of the wonderful people who sowed love and wisdom into my young life too. I didn't appreciate them either.

I'm glad you got to tell this man how important he was in your life. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the world. You're making a difference.

The Old Silly said...

Kathy, thank you for the warm words. You know, as a writer, I know I have written an emotional scene well if, after having read it dozens of times before, it can still wet my eyes when I read it yet once more. I always tear up at the end when I re-read this piece, so I guess I wrote it well enough. And that man deserves it, as I can see you know full well mentors like him do. I'm glad for you that you had good teachers in your life, too. 'Tis a blessing, hmm?

Marvin D Wilson

Thelma Banks said...

Wow, Marv, you made ME cry too! :-(

LOL, but in a GOOD way!

Kevin, really like your blog, it looks like you write some really great kid's lit! Thanks for this fine feature on The Old Silly - I'm a longtime Free Spirit reader and fan, I've got ALL of Marvin's books. I'll check out your children's books too--got a couple of young relative birthdays coming up. ;-)

The Old Silly said...

Thelma - yes, support a fellow writer and buy a couple of Kevin's books! Thanks for the visit, comment, and your continued support, hun!

Marvin D Wilson

Kevin McNamee said...

Thanks to all of you for visiting my blog and for all the kind words you had for my books. Once again, a big thank you to Marvin for being such a fun and entertaining guest.



Karen Cioffi said...

Marvin, your essay is wonderful. Growing up, a teenager in the sixties, I know what you mean.

I love to read collections of essays, articles, and anthologies; yours is on my 'to get' list.

Thanks for featuring Marvin, Kevin.

Virginia S Grenier said...

Marvin, your books sounds just like something I need on those not in the mood to sit and write days.

Thanks Kevin for hosting Marvin. I just shared this with my social sites, too.

Martha said...

What a great excerpt. Good luck with your book.