Psychic Jay Bell Finds My Car Keys And Other Stuff

To understand the mystery of Psychic Jay Bell, we need to go back in time for a brief setting of the story, which finds me delivering singing telegrams, frequently dressed as a Flasher. It was the most fun job I ever had working for somebody else.

These moments of musical misbehavior mostly occurred at a workplace, a restaurant, or a party. But sometimes it got more scenic. One time I delivered a telegram at the ballpark in front of 30,000 Royals fans. Another time to a newlywed couple in bed on their first night together. Once even to a bachelorette party of a dozen or so naked young ladies at a backyard swimming pool. (Sorry, that’s a whole other story.)

Why This Job?

I had graduated from college, tried graduate school, tried various corporate sales jobs, tried a few other kinds of jobs (geologist, planetarium lecturer), and basically done everything I could to avoid attempting my one true but very risky passion: writing songs and singing them for a living.

Eventually in my mid-twenties I came to grips with the fact that I was going to have to give music a shot and see what happened.

There were a few problems with this.

First, I knew I wasn’t a very good songwriter. I wanted to be good, but I didn’t know how to be good, or even if I could in fact ever be good. I could tell that most of the songs I was writing were somewhat cheesy.

Secondly, I knew I could sing okay, but I was only an average guitar player. How much better would I have to get?

Finally, I had crippling, brutal, abject stage fright. I realized that if I was going to write songs, I might at some point have to play them for real, live, actual people. So I HAD to get over my terror of that.

Time To Face Your Fear, Bub

I finally cobbled together some courage and auditioned to perform on a weekend in the basement of a local club. Incredibly, somehow, I got the job. Despite my fright, I was now contracted to show up and “entertain” people for four hours, two nights in a row.

It turned out to be less and less scary as I got rolling, and then actually kind of fun. As you may have noticed, a lot of people in bars are not paying close attention to the singer. Many of the ones that are paying attention have consumed a quantity of distilled spirits that make the entertainer sound better – and funnier – than he or she actually is.

I guess it worked okay because the club hired me to come back in a month. I began auditioning at other bars, and sort of a career was born.

As I transitioned to making money performing in clubs, I needed another flexible, dependable income. Ergo, singing telegrams. It was easy, fun, paid well, and I could work when I wanted to.

Psychic Jay Bell

While I drove around all day amusing myself delivering frequently risqué telegrams to the unsuspecting ladies of Kansas City, I would listen to the radio in my old beater of a car. It only had an AM radio, so usually I tuned in to a talk show hosted by a goofy local personality named Mike Murphy.

Murphy’s show was about anything and everything, almost always with a heavy dose of humor. One of his occasional guests was another character named Psychic Jay Bell.

Psychic Jay Bell was, as you might suspect, a psychic. People would call the station with their questions, and Psychic Jay Bell would answer them with confidence bordering on arrogance. He did not suffer fools, and he was not a touchy-feely kind of guy. More like a drill sergeant. So callers had to be ready for the straight dope, at least as he saw it, and never sugar coated.

I found this highly entertaining.

One day I had an hour between telegrams and stopped for some groceries. As I got back in the car to drive home, I flipped on the radio and there was Psychic Jay Bell, enlightening the callers of Kansas City with his typical bravado. I listened for a few minutes until I got home, then shut off the car and took my food inside to put away.

Five minutes later I was ready to leave for my next telegram, but there was a problem. I couldn’t find my car keys. I looked in the car, on the front walk, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, but they were nowhere. It was crazy. I’d only been home five minutes and only been in two rooms. In a mild panic, I realized there was only one thing to do.

I Called The Radio Station

I told them I wanted to talk to Psychic Jay Bell. They said hold on, you’re next.

In a minute, Mike Murphy and Psychic Jay Bell came on the line and said, “Greg from Kansas City, you’re on the air. What’s your question?”

I said, “I can’t find my car keys.”

There was a split second of silence, then they cracked up. They were howling. Loud guffaws. They thought this was hilarious. Then they said, “No really, what’s your question?”

I said, “I’m not kidding. I’m late for an appointment and I can’t find my keys.”

Psychic Jay Bell said, “For crying out loud. You really can’t find your car keys?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Oh, Brother. Okay, wait a second.”

There was silence for a few seconds, then Psychic Jay Bell announced, “Your keys are in the bottom of a brown paper sack.”

My eyes flew open as I looked across the kitchen at the grocery sack on the counter.

“Hold on,” I said, and went to look.

There in the bottom of the grocery bag were my keys. I couldn’t believe it. How did they drop in there without me hearing them?

I went back to the phone and said, “You’re right! They were in my grocery bag!”

Psychic Jay Bell said, “Of course I’m right. That was easy. Surely you got a better question than that.”

I thought for a minute, then said. “Okay, well, I’m trying to decide about my career. Whether to go for it as a professional songwriter, and maybe singer. It’s a tough road and I just don’t know if I’m good enough. No guarantees. I might waste a lot of years and get nowhere. Any thoughts about that?”

Psychic Jay Bell thought about that for what seemed like a long time.

Finally he said, “Yes, that’s actually your best path. But you’re going to have to be patient. You’ll have to work hard, pay your dues. If you do, eventually you’ll do well, even win some awards. But it’s going to take some time. So don’t be in a hurry.”

Well, that sounded mostly good. I knew he could have been pulling my chain, except that his schtick was that he didn’t really do that. Lots of times I heard him tell people what they didn’t want to hear.

Then he went on to say, “You’ll have your best success with story songs, like Harry Chapin writes. Listen to some Harry Chapin and see what I’m talking about.”

The fact that he got specific about the kinds of songs was interesting for a couple of reasons. I felt it gave him a bit more credibility, but also it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I was not a huge fan of story songs, and although I definitely respected Harry Chapin, I wouldn’t have called myself a fan.

But I filed that away in my brain because it was so specific.

Okay, Fast Forward To Today

Between then and now were some decades of hard work and dues paying: leaving the bars behind, moving to Nashville, starting all over, learning how to write better songs, leaving Nashville years later for the Big Unknown, and starting all over again. But everything has, in fact, pretty much worked out the way he said it would eventually.

I have won some songwriting awards, and a couple of those have even been for story songs. I ended up writing more of them than I ever thought I would, especially humorous ones.

This past February at the EmPower Posi (short for “Positive”) Music Awards, I was honored with The Grace Note Award for Lifetime Achievement in Positive Music. (Awarded by Unity Worldwide Ministries.)

I guess Lifetime Achievement means you’ve been doing something for long enough that people notice. And when your peers want to give you something like this, it definitely does feel like validation. I deeply appreciate that people got together and decided to honor me. I am truly grateful for it. Kind of blown away, actually.

But It Made Me Realize Something

As lovely as it is to be recognized with an award (and it’s very, very nice), I’m aware that I’m a hundred times more grateful to YOU.

I see you at concerts and other events (sometimes after lots of years!), I read your newsletter comments and emails, and sometimes we have contests or other kinds of participatory stuff. I get a huge kick out of your stories, your feedback, your comments, your ideas, and your jokes. I honestly can’t tell you how much I value this, and I never take it for granted. Without you I have no idea what I’d be doing.

As Big Bill Broonzy famously said, “Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.”

So Here’s A Question

Did Psychic Jay Bell actually see the future? Or did he help me create it?

Honestly, I don’t know and can’t say. And I’m not sure it matters. Maybe both. The truth is I was already pretty close to going for it, at least for awhile. So maybe I would have done everything I did anyway.

But this is also true:

Whether he meant to or not, Psychic Jay Bell gave me a big dose of encouragement. And we all need a boatload of that. I probably needed it more than anybody.

So here’s the deal

I invite you to think about someone in your life who has given you encouragement that meant a lot. Maybe that got you over a hump. Maybe that you didn’t or couldn’t get anywhere else. Really, seriously, think about it. Right now.

Then, if possible, call them up and thank them.

Then think about the people in your life – especially (but not only) kids – who could use some encouragement. And call them up too!

And finally, if you happen to know whatever happened to Psychic Jay Bell, I’d really like to find out. :)   (You can comment below.)

Thanks!

© 2018 Greg Tamblyn

If you’ve never commented here before, your comment will have to be approved by your friendly neighborhood musical lafologist (me) before it appears, but it will. Honest.

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16 Responses to Psychic Jay Bell Finds My Car Keys And Other Stuff

  1. Lovely story about trust Greg. Isn’t it amazing that someone we don’t even know well that has faith in us can impact the entire trajectory of our lives? I love this story and I love your honesty is sharing your stories.
    Sending deep gratitude!
    Lisa

  2. Wow, I love this story!
    My great-grandmother was psychic, too (she was written up in Fate Magazine a few times) — she was especially good with lost keys ;-)

  3. Tim Lansford says:

    Keep up the good work!
    Tim

  4. rob peck says:

    Greg,

    Good to meet you at Posi and great to read your blog. REALLY tight blend of humor, humility, and honesty (and maybe a couple other accolades that start with H!)

    I’d be delighted to help you reconnect with Jay Bell- so much that I’d offer a free ticket to my upcoming seminar on ESP. Of course if you don’t know where…. or when…. it’s probably not for you!

    All the blest,
    Rob Peck (harmonica, juggler, jester… and all around dancin’ fool!)

    • Cathy DeWitt says:

      This is a great story. I especially love the part that begins with this question:
      Did Psychic Jay Bell actually see the future? Or did he help me create it?
      So glad to be reading your words of wisdom and wit!

  5. Mariposa Sturm says:

    Your stories always make my day. I’m so grateful for people like you. Keep smiling and have a blessed day. :)

  6. Melanie says:

    Loved the story. So glad you decided to follow your dream. You have really blessed my life through your music.

  7. Michele says:

    OK, Greg. So you invited us to thank the people who give us encouragement and/or validation. Well, then, THANK YOU, Greg Tamblyn!!

    You see, I am working on my psychic skills because my goal is to be a medium who brings relief and comfort to those whose loved ones have left their bodies behind to return to their life of being pure spirits again. I’d like to be the ‘cell phone’ that allows the loved ones to communicate again (although I have lots more than one cell).

    I thought I’d practice my psychic skills by seeing what I “got” re: the location of your lost car keys before reading where they were found. I “got” that they fell into a grocery bag. And voila! by gosh, by golly, that’s where they were! So, by sharing your story, I got to practice my psychic skills, and got validation that I just may be able to realize that goal of ‘seeing’ some things others may be overlooking or not hearing.

    So, thank you, thank you and thanks again for sharing the story–very eloquently, and entertainingly as you always do—and for giving me the opportunity to get closer to comfortable calling myself “Psychic Michele” (or, the cornier version: “Psychic My-cell” ; )

  8. Carol Alexander says:

    Hi Greg – Thanks for giving me smiles–makes my day happy!

  9. Karen says:

    Thanks for your stories as well as your music. You are a all around great guy who brings joy to many. I love your outlook on life. I love your CDs. Thanks for sharing your atoms.

  10. Steve says:

    Hey Greg – great story! Nice way to validate a psychic at the same time he’s validating you!

    My first psychic visit in Sedona left me pretty disappointed that I got no personalized advice or reading – just the same kind of “it’s all about love” that I could hear from the pulpit at my spiritual center. As a result, he charged me nothing. I’ve often wondered if I actually got something for nothing.

    Now, about that bachelorette party… :-)

  11. Patty says:

    LOL! that Jay Bell– he LITERALLY gave you the “keys to your future”– that’s HUGE!
    It was your 5 minute future at the time, because you couldn’t have gotten to your gig without your keys that he found. And then, he gave you the validation, perhaps – of something you already knew in your bones, but funny, how we sometimes need others to point it out, so we can head in the “direction of”. Great story – love stories, the rich tapestry of life! ;-)

  12. Jill Reed says:

    Greg,
    I will always have fond memories of you entertaining a small group of my friends at the Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis. We had a ball ???? with your off-the-wall-humor. We were speaking about that fun when some of reunited in Florida last weekend! I am grateful you listened to the psychic!
    Encouragement goes a long way because acceptance is our greatest need, and the psychic gave that to your desire as he found that common denominator and used it.

    Greg, you are a bright blast of passionate fun! I recommend Greg Tamblyn to all crowds because he does his homework these days because his life work is his teacher and he is a great entertainer!

  13. Peter says:

    My Haiku about aging (or whatever). Hope you like it.

    Decades of my life
    Shackled to a manic
    Now he is gone – ahhhhhh!

  14. Melissa says:

    SO grateful for Psychic Jay Bell! :-) And for your awesome songwriting and playing and performance skills! AND for your being honored fro a lifetime of bringing joy to people and blessing lives! I have been honoring you in my heart for years. So I[‘m grateful they honored you elsewhere as well.

    Love you Greg. <3

  15. Thank you for this wonderful story! I truly enjoyed reading about Psychic Jay Bell and how his influence helped encourage you to pursue your dreams. We are all grateful recipients of his advice to you.

    You invited us “to think about someone in your life who has given you encouragement that meant a lot.” The first person who came to mind was YOU, Greg!! I had given you a copy of my “Lighten Up” tape after I heard you in concert singing “Unconditional Love (The Story of Evy).” I didn’t give you my tape with any expectations — just wanted you to have it. Imagine my surprise when a few months down the line I get a phone call from you that started with an apology. You said that I had given you my tape and you had immediately put it on a shelf and forgot about it. Then one day you were sitting in your home feeling blue and said to yourself, “Greg, You’ve got to Lighten Up.” You then remembered my tape and after listening to it decided that you needed to call me and thank me. On that day you became my mentor, giving me invaluable advice on how to get my tape mass produced in Nashville and you also offered to promote it as you toured around the country. That was the beginning of our treasured friendship that started over 20 years ago. I didn’t have to be a psychic in those days to know where you were performing, because wherever you were, I would get a flood of orders for my tape from that part of the country. Thank you, Greg, for being a cherished friend and a wonderful mentor! You changed my life in so many ways!

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