Lingering pain from my recent surgery has made concentration difficult, so I haven't been able to do a lot of reading. I have often turned to music to fill the void in my long lonely days.
Honesty compels me to admit that I enjoy all types of music from jazz to the Mississippi delta blues to light classical and gospel, not to mention a little bit of old-time rock and roll, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, this scribe spells music c-o-u-n-t-r-y. And I have made an amazing discovery during my convalescence. My laptop computer can double as a virtual juke box with an unending playlist.
I have listened to more tunes in the past 10 days than I had in the previous 10 years, and I am talking artists from Roy Acuff, Hank Williams and Mama Mabel Carter to Zac Brown and Luke Bryan and everybody who is anybody in between. It's a heck of a thing. I just log onto the YouTube site and type in an artist or a song title and a whole list of choices pop up. I click on one and before you can say "Kaw-liga," there's Hank Sr. in his white suit embroidered with music notes playing his guitar and singing, right there in my lap.
And while one song is playing a whole menu of choices of similar songs and similar artists appears on the side of my screen and I'm off and running. Hank's songs lead me to Patsy Cline and from there to George Jones and before I know it I'm listening to Johnny Cash and eventually Kenny Rogers and Trisha Yearwood and John Berry and -- well, like I said, the playlist is endless and all my radio heroes have kept me company, day after day after day.
Now I realize there are those who have "never been crazy," as Trace Atkins put it, "'bout that twang and trains and hillbilly thang," but as Trace Atkins also put it, those are "songs about me, and who I am, songs about loving and living and good-hearted women and family and God." And as I have immersed myself in 6 decades of country music this week I have been reminded of something that I already knew, country song writers are some of the greatest story tellers and greatest poets of our generation, and even those who don't like the twang should be able to appreciate that fact.
Let me give you a for-instance or three. "He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger, and finally drank away her memory." That's from a Brad Paisley song called "Whiskey Lullaby," but the songwriters were Bill Anderson and Jon Randall. Bill Anderson graduated from the University of Georgia -- hallowed be thy name. You don't hear lines like that in a Lil Wayne song. It reminds me of my Uncle Pink, who, according to my grandmother, drank himself to death -- at the age of 102.
"I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday, holding Bobby's body close to mine." Kris Kristofferson wrote those words in the classic "Me and Bobby McGee," and although my old English professor Rosemary Magill wouldn't approve of his misuse of the first-person-personal pronoun in the title, most of us, if we told the truth, have shared that sentiment at one time in our lives or another.
A lot of country lyrics are more comical that poignant. "I wouldn't take her to a dog fight, not even if she had a chance to win" comes to mind (penned by Larry Kingston and John Snow, in case you wondered). I've known a few of those, back in my single days. "If the devil danced in empty pockets, he'd have a ball in mine." (A Joe Diffie ditty) That line would be really funny if it didn't ring so true right now.
We could do this all day of course. There are so many troubadours out there, singing to our hearts and souls and the sophisticates among us can turn up their noses if they like. I'll just keep listening to Waylon and Willie and the boys, and Trisha and Miranda and the girls. Oh, and for the record, the song lyrics that spoke most loudly to me this week were written by one of Dr. Bo Ryles's 4-H girls, Hillary Lindsey, in a song recorded by Carrie Underwood.
"Jesus take the wheel, take it from my hands, 'cause I can't do this on my own."
Thank God I don't have to -- so, "I'm letting go." Thanks, Hillary, for that reminder.