I never listened to much country music as a youngster outside of Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” and Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.”
Hee Haw was a regular in the Parker house on Saturday nights growing up as well as the Porter Wagoner Show with Dolly Parton.
I once attended a Minnie Pearl show in Tulsa and while visiting Opryland in Nashville in 1974, I got to see Conway Twitty perform. And I have attended some country music shows at the Iowa State Fair such as Confederate Railroad, and set outside the grandstands and listened to a few others. And I once met the country band Sawyer Brown during a visit to the casino in Tama and got all the members autographs.
Growing up, I was aware of other country artists, especially those from Oklahoma such as Reba, but never listened to their music.
I was more into rock and roll in high school and beyond before making the switch to Christian rock after attending a free concert in a Tulsa park in April 1981 put on by Sweet Comfort Band, a California band that performed gospel songs with a beat. The band had performed a concert at Oral Roberts University the night before and decided to host a free concert the next day.
Since marrying Debbie 19 years ago, I have listened to a lot more country music and I even attended a George Strait concert with the family at Wells Fargo in Des Moines in 2012. Strait puts on quite a show without fireworks and a theatrical set. It’s just George, his guitar and band, his voice and the Wrangler Jeans.
“Milk Cow Blues” was my favorite song.
And I would be a miss not to mention that we had backstage passes to the Grand Old Opry on our honeymoon thanks to the now late country comedian, T. Bubba Bechtol, who invited us backstage after I wrote him an email before the wedding to say we were going to be at the Opry.
While at the Opry, we got to meet and get autographs from the now late Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner and Little Jimmy Dickens. We also met and got autographs from Ricky Skaggs and Chely Wright
Anyway, Debbie and I were watching the country music awards (CMAs) last week and that is when I first heard of country artist Jelly Roll.
Jelly Roll, born Jason Bradley DeFord, has had an interesting life, a hard life of time in prison before he could drive and two kids, one which was born while he was in a jail cell.
Since getting out of prison, Jelly Roll has made an effort to turn his life around. He credits his wife for moving him in a positive direction.
He’s still has some things to work on, but we all do.
The heavily tattooed Jelly Roll started his singing career as a hip hop artist who transcended to country rap and country rock.
After accepting the award for new artist of the year, what Jelly Roll had to say is a message we all should take to heart.
“There is something poetic about a 39-year-old man winning new artist of the year. I don’t know where you’re at in your life, or what you’re going through, but I want to tell you to keep going, baby,” he continued. “I want to tell you success is on the other side of it. I want to tell you it’s going to be OK. I want to tell you that the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason.”
Jelly Roll’s message may not be mainstream, but his message touches people. It touches people that others may not be able to reach.
We all miss it and have done things we are not proud of, but the key in life is to forgive ourselves and others, put the plow in the ground and keep looking forward to bigger and better things in life.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day.