Marshall Chapman
Photo by Anthony Scarlati

My writing desk is nothing more than a six-foot sheet of plywood sitting on two separated two-drawer file cabinets. The cabinet on the right is labeled RIGHT BRAIN and the one on the left, LEFT BRAIN. The RIGHT BRAIN cabinet contains song ideas, stories, essays, the beginnings of a screenplay, old photos, hilarious letters from my family, and so on. The LEFT BRAIN cabinet holds tax and insurance forms, major appliance warranties, mortgage paperwork, bank statements, medical records, and the like—all organized in alphabetized folders.

My family and friends are often taken aback by how organized I am. Not to mention how clean and neat my house and yard stay. Since my personal style could best be called “bag lady chic,” this seems a bit incongruous. Allow me to insert here that, if pressed, I “clean up well.” In other words, if it’s a gig or a funeral or some such, I can pull myself together. But on a day-to-day basis, especially on those days when I never leave the house, I often look like I just crawled out from under a bridge.

But back to this left-brain right-brain business. I have often thought I could have been one of those household-name stars like Dolly Parton, if only I could have deactivated the left side of my brain. Be more like Willie Nelson, firing up a big one in the back of the bus while writing hit songs. Let other people do my taxes and fill out those forms.

But life doesn’t work that way. We are who we are, and the older I get, the more I appreciate being “the most left-brain right-brain person” you will ever know. As Roger Miller once sang, “Squares make the world go round.”

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