My Love for Music

A song lives forever and never ever dies
Sings enemies together and touches so many lives
Words and melody will always be, long after we’re gone
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song
–Written by Patrick Jason Matthews, Rebecca Lynn Howard

Performed by Joey and Rory Feek

Like most people, I grew up loving music, but I think I have an even stronger affection for music today. I started learning to play guitar when I was in my mid-forties, and even though I can’t claim to be good at it, I love it. I tried to play drums when I was a child, but I really couldn’t get the hang of it. It’s pretty hard to learn an instrument when you’re being tossed around to a new school system every couple months. Nor can you learn when practicing is always shunned and degraded. The only one to encourage me was a young woman my mother worked with and even though I only saw her a couple of times, she left an indelible impression.

When I had kids of my own, I forced them to take music lesson on an instrument of their choice for at least one year. It stuck. Instruments changed, but both learned to appreciate making music. My wife and I attended all sorts of performing events with the school, but but by far the most memorable was watching my son and daughter on the stage together singing Revelation Song. My children are shy by nature and to see them up there by themselves performing brought a tear to my eye.

Our daughter used to sing quite a bit with the church band.Tabitha at Church. It took her a while to get the hang of it. She was so scared at first that she would look like her best friend had died, but she got quite good. My son would play guitar in the band once in a while too. There were lots of people to encourage them, and they encouraged me as well. I started learning right beside them Me & Tab. I would love to play guitar while my daughter would sing with me.

Perhaps my favorite movie of all times in Mr. Hollands Opus and my favorite seen in the movie is shown in this link: Scene from Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s a very important question he asked, “Is it any fun?” Then he rightly identifies what’s wrong, They’ve been trying to play notes on the page. There’s a lot more to music than notes on the page. In the movie this is not just a transition for the girl trying to learn an instrument, it is a transition for Mr. Holland as well as he goes from one who hated his job to one that loved it. So often we miss the beauty of things by trying to play notes on the page.

The love of playing music is not something that can be taught. A person can be taught to play notes. He can learn rudiments, scales, and theory but that is not the love of music. Sometimes the love is there before a person learns to play, and the best thing to do is let them mess around with the instrument. Trying to teach a person all the notes and crap just stifles the growing process.

Isn’t it interesting that some of the most famous musicians around can’t read an ounce of music? They learned by ear, they learned by heart, but they didn’t learn notes on a page. Some may have even started out in schools and music classes, but they dropped out. It isn’t true across the board, but I know several who learned to play in school, and it kind of died there. The jump to creativity never really took place. The same happens in other areas of life as well especially with religion. You can learn the words on the page and literally kill the spirit and beauty of spirituality.

I think some of the real joy of music is a person’s own contributions. We may start off playing songs of other people, but hopefully we can start to venture out into our own world. I’ve always made up goofy songs as far back as I can remember. At first they were just parodies, but eventually they became quite original. Most I’ve forgotten because I never wrote them down. One of the big reasons I started learning guitar was to be able to make up my own songs, and it has been a long process.

There is something that music offers that is so indescribable. Music cheers us, consuls us, motivates us, inspires us, encourages us, and in a thousand other ways music touches us. There is something spiritual about it. Some of the most incredible songs came to the writers with very little effort. It’s like a song that had to be written from a source that is beyond our description. Some will require very little effort and everything just kind of falls into place, while others take years to develop.

Rarely, if ever is a song created by just one person. The lyrics and the melody may come from one person, but usually there are a lot of unrecognized contributors who make the song that goes on the radio. I think this is important to keep in mind. A song begins by a thought or perhaps a feeling. Sometimes a person is just fumbling around on a guitar and comes across a sound that sticks out. Sometimes it’s just a line that gets repeated over and over again. If people are consumed by learning other people’s songs, this process can’t take place.

But when we venture out pretty soon a song is born. It’s just like an infant, it must grow and develop. It must be fed, promoted, performed, etc. It’s NEVER an individual effort. There is a lot to it. I think it is tragic what will happen to people in the process of creating music. When song becomes successful, fame also develops along with pride and greed. Together, they kill the spiritual side of the music. The music may go on, but the joy is lost.

I like the humble side of music. I prefer the songs you will never hear on the radio. I like the people who write from their hearts and may only share their songs with a few close friends. I like the goofy songs that come along while playing with a baby in your arms: Playing with Zoe. I love watching a toddler request and dance to song I played for her while sitting in my truck: Grace, My Granddaughter dancing to Monkeys on the bed. I hope to pass on this love for music. Grace singing “Twinkle Little Star.”. I’ve already bought the guitar for my granddaughter. She’s not old enough yet, but one day I’m hoping she will take to it. In my own way, I’m creating memories that will live well beyond me. I don’t have to be good or famous to do that. I can just be me.

There’s an end for me, it’s my destiny
But this song will carry on and it’s just three minutes long
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song
Oh, how I wish I could live the life of a song
–From The Life of a Song

 

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Step Dad

Today I had to take a load of Beer up to Mountain View, Arkansas which probably would have no significance at all, if I hadn’t learned a while back that this is where my former Step dad now lives. My mom finally divorced this man around 1980 after he beat the crap out of my younger brother like he used to do to me. She’d left him before after I got beat up while I was sitting at the kitchen table playing solitaire. But she went back, and it was me that ended up leaving every time after that.

My mom never claimed to love the man. She called it a marriage of convenience. She must have been scared trying to make ends meet as a single woman. But the marriage was anything but convenient. I had 3 older step brothers, two older sisters, and then there was me and my younger biological brother. All nine of us lived in a little single-wide trailer at first. But with the combined incomes, we eventually moved into a house. The horrors of my childhood evidently are still with me because as I drove here I started working on a little song. It’s not completed and I don’t know if will ever be, but I thought I would share what I have anyway.

Step Dad

He wasn’t more than 5’6”

But fists felt like a couple of bricks

When they landed on my head

When I was just a child.

A little man can look real big

In the eyes of scared and vulnerable kid

Who’s forgotten what it felt like

When he could smile.

But his fists never seemed to hurt near as bad

As the words he spoke to this little lad

Telling what a worthless loser I’d always be.

His fist could turn me black and blue

But his words cut my heart in two

And those were the wounds that never healed

For me

A man is not a dad at all

When all he does is make a child feel small

(Well, I may come back to it later, but it is now time to get back to driving. )

He must be well over eighty now. Frail and alone in Mountain Home. I wonder what he’s like. I’m tempted to visit, but there doesn’t seem to be much point. All of my step brothers and sister’s have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I believe we have all been hospitalized for various emotional disorders, but not him. I’m not sure about the younger one of my older step brothers, Blake. Both him and my step dad just grew hard and calloused. The military suited Blake while it lasted, but he had the retire and I really don’t know what he does anymore. But I saw him about 7 years ago, and he has the look in his eyes that his father had before him. It’s a sociopathic look. One that says, “I’d just as soon kill you as talk to you.” The oldest one is dead now, the next in line is little more than a vagrant. The two girls struggle by as life goes on, but they are kind people.

I have spent a lifetime trying to repair the damage. I don’t know that I have. But I know my children were not treated as I was. I’m sympathetic knowing that such man not only causes pain, he is normally only reacting to the pain he has received. Now it’s mainly pity I feel for him now and for people like him. Pain makes a lot of people hard and uncaring. I’m thankful it didn’t do that to me.

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Time

My second grandchild was born Friday morning June 15 and as I was driving down the road the song, “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce came into my mind from out of nowhere. Jim Croce was a very talented musician whose career really took off after the birth of his son. This song was written with his son in mind as he struggled with the desire to spend time with the ones he loved, but he was constantly torn away from them because of his career. Unfortunately, Jim died in a plane crash shortly thereafter.

This is a popular subject for song writers and performers. There are a number of songs I could think of off the top of my head dealing with time, or the lack thereof. They are songs of lament and regret over the lost time with loved ones in order to make a living.

It’s been a struggle throughout my adult life ever since college. It was there that I met my future wife. College was very stressful and demanding and some of our biggest fights in the beginning was over the need for time in our relationship. But it didn’t get any easier as time went along. I was a preacher right out of college and I worked hard at my job. I had no supervisor, no clock to punch, but there was a drive to do my job well and there was always something that needed done.

But the preaching thing fell through and I eventually had to resort to driving a truck which gave me even less time for my family. I remember seeing the Adam Sandler movie “Click” which caused me to break down in tears and sob most of the way through the movie. I think the movie was meant to be a comedy, but there is nothing funny about watching life pass by on fast forward. All the moments you can never have back.

Truck driving took me away from the family and even when I was able to be home, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I was overwhelmed by the stress of working long hours and the demands that needed taken care of when I finally got home.

Things got better; then they got worse; then they got better again. Through it all time never slowed down and before I knew it my babies were grown and I was getting old. Now our parents are on their way out and we are next. If we could only save time in a bottle. If we would only make wishes come true. I would also like to save every day till eternity passes away to spend with those I love. But as Croce says, “There doesn’t seem to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.”

I am grateful that I was right there when my children were born. My daughter was first, followed by my son a couple years later. Becoming a father really changed my world. It wasn’t about me anymore; it was now about them. My job was to provide, to protect, to instruct, and most of all to love them. I may not have done as well as I would have like, but I tried to do the best that I could. Now my daughter is a parent and my boy is a grown man.

Now I have grandchildren. Just like my own children, I was there in the hospital when they were born. As I watched my granddaughter get to hold her brother, I was reminded of when my daughter first held her brother.

My granddaughter looks so much like the little girl I raised that it is very hard for me to separate them in my mind. Where did all the time go.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my first child just days after she was born. Unlike my granddaughter, my daughter never liked my signing.

I guess we all feel the passing of time and try our best to make the most of the moments we have. I have lots of memories. Some of them are really great. I guess I just miss those special moments when my babies were still babies.

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Life Changes

May 5th was my wife and I’s 28th wedding anniversary and we went to one of my favorite parks to spend the weekend together. I usually wake up very early, while it is still dark outside, and I spend some time in solitude before my wife gets up. Dawn is my favorite time of the day and it is even more special when I can spend the time on a majestic overlook.

This morning, I was driving to a spot that I really liked and I heard a song on the radio that instantly struck me. It was a newer country song by a young artist named Thomas Rhett whom I’ve never heard of. The was called “Life Changes” and it was a very appropriate song for a 28th wedding anniversary.

Now I’m not a real big fan of the newer country music. I just prefer the older stuff without all the fancy accompaniment, but it has usually been the lyrics that has attracts me anyway, and when I heard the chorus I fell in love with the song.

Ain’t it funny how life changes

You wake up, ain’t nothing the same and life changes

You can’t stop it, just hop on the train, and

You never know what’s gonna happen

You make your plans and you hear God laughing

Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no

And I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no

I really liked the words, “You never know what’s gonna happen; you make your plans and you hear God laughing.” Yep, that is so true! he illustrated the chorus with three verses:

Waking up in my college dorm
Yeah, my life, it was pretty normal
Looking for a date to the spring formal
Wasn’t worried ’bout nothing else
Majoring in undecided
Notebook full of bad songs I was writing
Never dreamed anyone else would like them
Now they’re sitting on a Walmart shelf

I bought a ring and she said “I do”
But everybody else said, “man, you’re twenty-two
“Whatcha trying to prove?”
“Hey why don’t you wait?”
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on her since the second grade yeah
And now she got her own set of fans
She got a blue check mark by her Instagram
And I wrote a little song about holding her hand and now everybody wanna die happy now

I remember the day I told my Daddy and Mama you’re gonna have a grandkid, yep
From Uganda, that’s right, we’re adopting
And she is the cutest little girl that you’ve ever seen
Well I was wrapping my head around being a dad
A bigger ranch got thrown in the plans we thought we’d had
Now Lauren’ showing, got one on the way
Yeah that’s two under two, hey, what can I say?

Now what really struck me about this song is how real to life it seemed. These verses were personal like he was writing about personal experiences. As I shared the song with my wife we started researching, and sure enough, he is not just writing about life, he is writing about his life. I love songs like that.

Well, Thomas Rhett, you just gained a fan. I does my heart good to hear such a young man writing about life changes. I guess younger people adjust to changes a whole lot better than older people who tend to resist change as if it is something from Satan. Yet, everything in God’s creation changes. We don’t always like the changes, but they change nonetheless.

I’ve been coming to this park for years. We started when we were young and our children were just babies. I used to carry my kids up the hills with one on my back and the other in my arms. To think of the changes we have been through over the years. Many dreams have been shattered, and other have taken their place. Friends and loved ones have died and even now are in the midst of dying. We’ve moved a lot. I have traveled the country and seen so many places, but it wasn’t how I thought it would go in my younger years, but it still happened.

I’ve made lots of mistakes and have many regrets, but I also feel like I’ve done some good along the way too. In so many ways, my wife and I have had a rocky marriage. Our differences at times seemed seemed too vast for any sense of unity, yet there is unity. The marriage has held together. Our children have grown. It has never gone like I envisioned it, but it has gone good enough. Our marriage has often times been rocky and full of turmoil and confusion, but the anchor held.

Now we have a grandchild and another one due in a couple months. Watching our granddaughter is like water our daughter growing up all over again. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of that little girl.

Friday night as my wife and I were heading to the park there was a bad accident that caused us to go way out of our way. We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know until last night’s news that a little girl had run out in front of a semi and was killed in the process. My granddaughter loves to run, and in the process she has almost been hit as well. I don’t know how I would handle such a drastic change. My heart goes out to that family, and the driver who hit her too. It was a tragic accident and life for everyone involved will never be the same. I ache as I think about it.

Life does’t go like we expect. If we are lucky, it may go fairly well, but for many of us we search for the nuggets of meaning and happiness in the midst of the chaos. Either way, life is a wonderful experience with all it’s sadness and joy, death and birth, old and new. It all seems to fit together like a majestic piece of art created by God himself.

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A True Friend

A True friend . . .

Accepts you even when you disagree.

Doesn’t think you’re stupid even when you do stupid things.

Believes in you even when you’ve lost faith in yourself.

Listens even when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Loves you even when they hate what you’ve done.

Keeps coming back even when they are pissed off.

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Song: I Drive for Swift

This is a new song I wrote since I started driving a truck again. Anybody who has driven a truck for very long knows that Swift is a company that has a bad reputation for getting into accidents, and it is a deserved reputation. I disputed this until the evidence became overwhelming. Now I have done my own stupid things while driving, so I don’t want this to come across as I think I’m better than other drivers; I am definitely not. It’s just meant to be funny. So here are the lyrics and a short video. Pleaseunderstand, I just started on this, and I’m working from my truck, so the sound is awful and so is my singing ability. The song and the video were done while I was waiting for them to fix my tire. I will try to improve it later and I have some ideas for a video with all the pictures and videos I have collected of Swift, mostly from Twisted Trucker.

I Drive for Swift

Well I just got my CDL

I think I’m ready to go

They gave me a big white Volva Truck

And I’m headed down the road

I don’t know much about driving

But I’ll learn as I go.

Ya’ll better watch out for me

Cause I’ll run you off the road.

I drive for Swift

I drive for Swift

You can usually find me out in the ditch

You see me coming you best beware

You can bet I don’t care a bit

I drive for Swift

If your sitting in the truck stop parking lot

And you see me coming your way

You might want to move or be prepared

I need lots of space.

I don’t know much about backing up

I hope you understand

If I plow into your truck

I’m only doing the best I can.

Chorus

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The Greatest Woman

4FCDDFB2-B079-48FA-8403-196B67548FC6.jpegThe greatest woman has stood by my side
She held my hand as when I sat and cried.
She didn’t have any answers to give
No words of wisdom by which I should live.

She didn’t pretend to know what I was going through
But I knew she cared and that’s all she could do.
She knew that the dark clouds would eventually pass away
So she’d just hold on for the brighter day.

Maybe she could never truly understand why
There were so many times I wanted to die
But through it all she stood by my side
Through love and compassion she kept me alive.

There are lots of great woman I have known in my life
But the Greatest of them all is the one who’s my wife.

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Calming the Demons

Sometimes my mind turns on me
And it becomes my own worst enemy.
The poisonous thoughts inside my head
Just won’t let; they want me dead.

One day they may find me lying on the floor
When I just couldn’t take the thoughts anymore.
People will be wondering what went wrong
When I’ve been trying to tell them all along.

It’s not that I don’t have people who care
People have tried, but they don’t get anywhere.
You can’t help those who won’t help themselves
But I fail in my efforts just like everyone else.

“You can’t fix stupid”, is what people say
So is there any hope for me anyway?
I can’t keep a job; I’m never content
I fail every time when my thoughts won’t relent.

I’m drowning in here; it’s like I can’t breathe
I can’t sleep or think from all the anxiety.
I feel worthless, rejected, sinful, and weak
And my feelings just get worse when I can’t sleep.

So I sit at this table in the middle of the night
Knowing the thoughts in my head just can’t be right.
Now that the poem is written I can go back to bed
Because I’ve calmed the demons that exist in my head.

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The Booger

I once had a booger that tasted like sugar

I found it way up in my nose

It was ooey and gooey a little bit chewy

And it wouldn’t of looked good on my clothes

Momma said NO! Stop picking your nose!

But momma, I don’t care what you say.

I just sat in the aisle and gave her a smile

And I ate that booger anyway.

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My Morning Shower

Today I took a shower

But it didn’t last too long

I got the soap in my hair

And it doesn’t seem fair

Cause all the hot water is gone.

So I rinsed myself off as fast as I could

As I started to shiver and shake

It just seems wrong

When the warm water is gone

But hey! Now I’m awake.

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