Let’s take a “cool down” before the next five-weeks of heat, bent-truth, accusation and the pursuit of power. What follows contains no “politics” – just “country.”
Music alone moves me, words alone move me – but nothing “moves” me more than music married to words. That marriage is majestic. I found the majesty of music early in my life, I am a product of “big-bands,” “swing,” “doo-whoop,” and of course, “country.” The era of big-bands and doo-whoop were indeed measured by music, its rhythm and “swing” – but it’s in country that the words are the cement and music the stone. No other music, no form of poetry, no rhythm outweighs our life as revealed by the truth found in country. Country music comes in three flavors – religious, humorous, and the reflections of life– and there are so many.
The first flavor (country and religion) is best expressed in the music married to the words and sung by some like Willy Nelson’s version of “Amazing Grace.” I can hear him gently crooning these words – “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found - Was blind, but now I see.”
It’s the marriage of these words and the music, music reflecting his oft tragic life, that most moves me, pulls me into the reality of life. For like Willie – I’ve known both the highest-joys and some of the deepest separations in life – separations such as the death of a child and the tsunami of divorce.
The second flavor (country and humor) is surely easy to find, for being ‘country’ alone gives both purpose and reason for humor. Humor is the ability to find a sense of solace and peace in the different paths taken in our lives. Paths taken by both our choice and those forced on us by the life of others – in the end what predestines us is often our choice. For me country and humor are best expressed in a song by Garth Brooks – listen to these words – “Cause I’ve got friends in low places - where the whiskey drowns, and the beer chases my blues away - and I’ll be OK, I’m not big on social graces - Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis - Oh, I’ve got friends in low places”. Come on – laugh, it’s OK – life is actually better lived in laughter than the constant sobbing caused by history.
The third flavor (country and reflection of life) is perhaps the most profound and obvious, for it touches on both the depth of joy and the pain-and-passion of disappointment. Joy is often expressed in country music, but looking back over the years I’ve listened to country (and there are many) – the most profound music speaks either of the depth of love or the agony of separation. Alabama’s music moves my soul, reminds me of my life, and is the reflection of the obvious - the power of love. Speaking of love listen to these words – “I will give you my heart faithful and true - and all the love it can hold, that’s all I can do. But I’ve thought about how long I’ll love you - and it’s only fair that you know - forever’s as far as I’ll go.” Wow - imagine being loved forever.
Then there is this – the greatest of life’s tragedies, missed opportunity - listen to loss from George Strait – “I’d like to have that one back - I’ve never known someone so true - and a love that pure and sweet is one a man should never lose. If my lips had said, ‘I’m sorry’ - she might have stopped right in her tracks - but now I find my poor heart saying, ‘I’d like to have that one back.’” What in life is more disappointing than missed opportunity?
There are many – perhaps the most – who are touched by music. Music married to words can take one’s breath away, can move you from tears to laughter, and bring the tears of life to the eyes of your heart and soul. In country is found the rainbow of human life, that rainbow is composed of the color of joy, sadness, hope, and faith – all wrapped in the arms of love. I was born country – will die country, and as stated before – “I was country before country was cool.”