Music that lasts forever and ever, amen

Quick note: All the links in this post are to other posts I’ve written, take a look!

This past weekend I went to an Elvis festival in Nashville. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved his music. Being among all those Elvis fans reminded me of my nieces. The oldest is 16 and the youngest is 5 or 6. But when they were younger and Elvis came on the radio, most of them wanted us to change the station fast! For whatever reason they didn’t like Elvis music. Well, come to find out they didn’t like any music that wasn’t Justin Bieber or whatever played on Radio Disney.

I never really thought about it much but their constant disdain for what is widely considered good music (Elvis is just one example), I began to appreciate the music I was “forced” to listen to when I was growing up. This isn’t a condemnation of how my nieces and nephew are being raised at all (I would never tell someone how to parent! Actually, I take that back, I wouldn’t tell my siblings how to parent!), but while my parents were kind and would leave the radio on a certain song we liked only sometimes, most of the time we listened to music they liked.

As I grew into an adult, I became more and more thankful for the music I had already heard before. Because of this, I really, really want the kids in our family to be exposed to that kind of music. Elvis, the Beach Boys, U2, Led Zepelin, Billy Joel, this singer (who was my first crush), Bob Marley, Alan Jackson, wait wait… I can’t do this. The post would be 5 days long. To be fair, there are a lot of current bands that are making good music, too… that list would also be 5 days long but bands like The Head and The Heart (I wrote about their show in Nashville here), OneRepublic, Zac Brown Band, Josh Ritter, Jack White, Lumineers, and again, I won’t keep going.

I keep thinking about the youngsters my family, “They have no idea what they’re missing. There is SO. MUCH. MORE.”

Well, last week something huge happened. Something monumental. I was hanging out with a few of the kids and I’d almost successfully drowned out the music that was playing when a Randy Travis song came on. My ears perked up and I asked, “Who picked this song?” My oldest niece (the 16 yr old) said she did because she likes it.

There is a God in Heaven.

-Out of the Wilderness

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Sniffer’s gonna sniff: a story about my amazing dogs and something important I lost

It’s a beautiful day.

Nashvillians are entering into the time of year that makes cold winters bearable. Days where the sun is bright and warm, and winter ice is a thing of the past. One day not too long ago was one of these days, so I went for a hike at Percy Warner Park in west Nashville, dogs in tow. It was beautiful. The way the sun cut through the towering trees. The sounds of animals foraging through the woods. Small flowers blooming. Runners running. Sniffy dogs sniffing. Our 5-mile walk concluded a few hours later and as I reached into my pocket for the car keys, slight concern. I don’t feel them. Panic. I check other pockets. I check all the pockets. Reality washing over me like any adult man at a Justin Bieber concert. How did it end up like this? What do I do now? Lucky for those adult men, they can just go home. Me? Nope. I might as well not have even had a car there, because without that little piece of carved metal, I wasn’t getting in. I wasn’t going home. Plus, who’s the dummy who’s got two fingers and left his phone in the car? This guy.

And I was like baby, baby, baby.

I said to my babies, we need to walk the trail again. And please keep in mind the farthest either of my dogs have ever gone is 6 miles. We already walked 5 miles, and now I’m taking them for 5 more. I felt terrible, like I was asking too much of them. If you do the math, it was not too far south of a half marathon.

Hello darkness my old friend.

It was completely dark when we completed the trail for the second time and I couldn’t have been more proud of my pups. They seemed to end stronger than they began, pulling towards squirrels, barking at deer, walking with perked ears as we rounded the final curve. We saw lots of wildlife, lots of things that weren’t keys. And now my car is one of the last 2 or 3, and the others are firing up to take their drivers home. I didn’t feel compelled to ask for assistance from the other park patrons, in fact, I felt compelled not to. So there I was sitting by a car I can’t get in, much less drive!

Islands in the stream, that is what we are.

The plan at this point was to befriend a volleyball and hope for a ship to pass by. Wait no, we weren’t that hopeless yet! I approached a house close to the park entrance and the nicest of ladies, Susan, offered so much help. She even brought out a laptop so I could email my friend “Bill.” Yeah, remember how I didn’t have my phone? I also don’t know anyone’s phone number! So email was the next best thing.

Police on the scene, you know what I mean?

After firing off an email, I returned to my car. It was weird sitting there not even knowing if the email was received, and yet, believing that the electronic flare would be seen and rescue was on the way. And it was, in more ways than one. The local police came by to lock up the parking lot, as they do every night, I’m sure, and the officer gave me a ride to police headquarters. My first time in the back of a cop car. It was nice. Very comfortable. I asked about the car and the lady officer informed me it was a Volkswagon Passat. Very cool. Arriving at the station, they were kind, helpful, and were over-the-top with Piper and Asia. They had treats, food, water, and plenty of back scratches that I know Piper and Asia appreciated. They brought me to a computer so I could check my email (to see if “Bill” had responded or anything). That’s when another officer stopped by and handed me a slip of paper. On it was “Bill”‘s phone number! Apppparrrrrentllyyy, nice lady Susan called up the police with this bit of information that was anything but itty bitty! Susan was a life saver! It was a pretty amazing moment. “Bill” arrived about 10 minutes later and took me home.

You live, you learn. You laugh, you learn.

The next day “Bill” and I did one more search without success and then I called to have a key made. From this experience, I learned a few things. Always have a spare key. Having friends is good, having good friends is better. Wear pants with bigger pockets. Sometimes dogs will surprise you. There are a lot of squirrels. As bad as it seems, it could be worse. This will be a landmark time in my life because of the amount of loss that came in a short span. I lost this set of keys on  a Saturday. The following Tuesday, I lost my job. Crazy right?

-Out of the Wilderness

A Love Story: Part Five

Before reading, feel free to get caught up here: A Love Story Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes this is all made up so please don’t congratulate me but do feel free to send me a Home Depot gift card as a wedding gift.

***

With the vows completed, I knew the moment was upon us. It’s funny, this part of the ceremony had me more nervous than the whole “till death separates us” part. It’s my father, anyway, that thought a fear of commitment was my problem. Turns out, he was partly right. I was afraid of committing myself to someone who was good. But now I’ve found great and with the smooth voice of Vince Gill, the guitar skills of John Mayer, and the certain come hither look of Johnny Depp, I began to sing. Acoustic-Guitar-1OK, that’s not completely true. My come hither look was more like Joey from Friends. But what was lost in talent was made up for in this being a surprise. That’s right. None but myself and a select few knew I was going to perform during the ceremony. Not even my soon-to-be wife knew. But hey, I love surprises. The idea came to me years earlier when a song grabbed me and didn’t let me go till I did something with it. The song was “All I Want Is You” and what I was doing with it was learning it on a borrowed guitar. No one in their right mind expected this from me because 1. I don’t play guitar, 2. I don’t sing, and 3. if I did either, it wouldn’t be front of an audience. But just after she finished her vows and the pastor prayed, I smiled and went to get the guitar. Forgetting that I was nervous, I looked towards the audience and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “Here goes nothing.” Light chuckles from around the darkened room.

I tread my way through, rough but definitely sounding kind of, sort of, if you tilt your head a little, like the U2 song. After all, it’s not my talent or my desire to “make it big” driving me, it’s my heart. And to know this surprise might make her smile, that’s enough for me to say yes to doing something that terrified me. That smile, that smile is worth more than my comfort. I could barely look at her while I sang because I might forget the words, laugh, cry, or all three at the same time. But as I strummed the last note our eyes connected. That’s a moment I won’t soon forget. She looked so proud and happy. After setting the guitar back down, I joined her on stage, clasping her hands in mine. Meanwhile my brother made his way to the mic at the end of the stage. He read, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” That’s a couple of verses from Psalm 145. Then her sister, a bridesmaid, approached the mic to sing her favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”

At the time most couples would light a unity candle or pour colored sand into a jar, we opted to do both. We lit sand on fire and poured it in a jar. No, but that would’ve been cool, right? We brought bricks to each set of parents and had them signed. We told them that just like the 2 bricks will forever be part of our home one day, they will  be, too. That was her idea and I loved it since day one. She was full of good ideas. I learned that as early as our first date.

Check back soon for A Love Story: Part Six, which will reveal more about our first date.

-Out of the Wilderness

47th Annual ACM Awards: Sunday night live commentary!

10pm Good night!

959pm I like her with straight hair.

957pm Taylor Swift. Good job Tay Tay!

957pm Lionel Richie comes out to present Entertainer of the Year. And the award goes to…

954pm commercials…

953pm He jokes about his “real shocked face” and looks at Taylor. Got her!

952pm The award goes to Blake Shelton. He better thank “The Voice”!

951pm Taylor Swift comes out to present Male Vocalist of the Year. I love when Taylor has straight hair.

950pm Personally I wouldn’t mind if this show ended, 3 hours is just way too long!

947pm Oh, first Luke Bryan performs his unsettling song “I Don’t Want This Night To End.” Something about it makes me want to change the channel. Not sure if it’s the words, music, the dancing, or D all of the above. else.

941pm Coming up, Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.

940pm or was it Blake Shelton’s ex-wife?

939pm or was it Kenny Chesney that busted through the door and said that?

938pm Minister asks if anyone wants to object, speak now or forever hold their peace… Randy Travis busts through the door and says, “Don’t do it!” Kidding.

938pm They have a unity candle. Besides rings, that’s gotta be the most common wedding tradition.

937pm Although I do like this song, even if The Bachelor kinda ruined it for a few months.

936pm This feels weird. I can’t tell if this is sweet, or very odd.

935pm The ceremony starts featuring the song “Marry Me” by Train and Martina McBride.

934pm The wedding story unfolds…

926pm After the break, a wedding ceremony. This ought to be interesting.

924pm Dierks Bentley is a cool guy. He’s got 2 dogs, so that makes him even cooler.

923pm Bono from U2 says America is not just a place, it’s an idea. Then he introduces Dierks Bentley performing the patriotic “Home.”

922pm For anyone who doesn’t get the hype of the Zac Brown Band, how do you think that performance was?

920pm Brad Paisley joins them on stage and shreds the guitar.

918pm Zac Brown perform a fun upbeat song called “Whiskey’s Gone.” I love these guys!

917pm What I wrote at 830pm (below) didn’t actually happen.

914pm Blake Shelton introduces Miranda Lambert, performing her latest hit “Over You.” The song is good, and I’ll add that the music video is hauntingly awesome.

912pm Anyone remember the movie “Dangerous Minds”? I like that movie.

910pm I think I want to see Titanic in 3D Wednesday, if for no other reason than to see Jack shaking in the freezing cold water, in 3D-D-D-D-D-D! That’s my teeth chattering in the cold water.

908pm (central) Miranda Lambert wins Female Vocalist of the Year.

9pm Cheerios. As in, that’s what I’m eating. Be back soon.

856pm Guess what, more commercials, but did I just hear them say they’re going to show a real wedding after the break? That’s a first.

855pm If you’re watching the ACM’s, chances are you are fully aware how country you are, but if you are still denying your country roots, check here to see if you are more country than you think.

852pm Sara Evans sings her latest release, a remake of “My Heart Can’t Tell You No.”

851pm Marc Anthony takes the stage? He introduces Sara Evans.

850pm Looks like everyone on the crowd has a red solo cup and you know who is so happy about this whole performance? The Solo brand. They may even send Toby a gold Solo cup.

849pm Carrot Top shows up and the crowd laughs along.

847pm Toby Keith performs “Red Solo Cup” if you can call singing that song a performance. He also just said testicles on national TV with no edit.

846pm Gary LeVox (lead singer of Rascal Flatts) asks if they can here the banjo in the back. “Yes! But we can’t see you. We’re too far back!”

845pm I like Rascal Flatts. Funny guys and they seem to have good hearts/compassion for people.

843pm Rascal Flatts performs their new song “Banjo” featuring Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) on the banjo. I like this song, but I thought it was meant more for a group like Little Big Town.

842pm Standing Ovation. Taylor warms up her Oh-my-gosh face. Other people clapping.

842pm Blake and Reba take the stage again and reflect on the life of Earl Scruggs who died earlier this week.

841pm One day I’m going to invent something where we can record TV programs then fast forward through the commercials.

838pm Another tease that Bono is coming up. Nothing screams country like an Irish rock star.

837pm Scotty thanks a long list of folks, never even mentioning Josh Turner, the guy who’s voice he stole.

836pm Alright I’m back. The Kimberly Perry Band presents new artist of the year award, going to Scotty McCreery.

835pm I have a hypothesis: the word redneck will always be popular in country music.

833pm You know what’s delicious? Seafood. Baked fish filets from the Gulf of Mexico = better than your dinner I bet!

830pm Mickey Mouse rushed the stage and tackled Carrie Underwood. Crazy, right?

826pm Time for dinner. Take a break and I’ll be back in a short while. What will happen while I’m gone: more jokes, random guest presenters that probably have never listened to country music, and a random performance from an artist who’s got a new album or single coming out. Yes, I’m talking about Scotty McCreery.

825pm commercial break.

825pm Can’t figure out this band out, they sing this song and a song about being taking things slow (“Just A Kiss”) but they also have a song “Lookin’ For A Good Time” about a one night stand. Hashtag confusion. Hashtag make up your mind.

822pm Lady Antebellum perform “Dancin’ Away With My Heart.”

821pm Blake and Reba (who are hosting) come up with a few more jokes, this time including Lindsay Lohan. Blake Shelton admits he screwed up the JetBlue joke but it was still funny.

820pm Jason and Kelly come up to accept the award. Kelly is looking fab.

819pm the award goes to Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson for “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

819pm Jake Owen and a pencil present Singe Record of the Year.

817pm I really want to eat pizza right now. If you wanna send one over, message me and I’ll send you my address.

816pm You can still vote for Entertainer of the Year: here

812pm Commercial break and the announcer is extremely intent on pronouncing every single syllable. His elementary teachers would be so proud.

811pm One could argue that Von Dutch hasn’t come around the first time yet.

811pm Or has it been so long that Von Dutch is coming back around?

810pm Evidently it’s 2003 because he’s got a Von Dutch hat on.

810pm Eric Church is wearing his signature baseball cap and aviator glasses.

809pm One of my favorites, Eric Church, takes the stage back at the MGM. He performs “Springsteen.” Guess what that songs about! Elvis.

808pm Looks like Brantley’s got some new tattoos.

807pm The Award show is at the MGM in Vegas, but they toss to the Mandalay Bay were newcomer Brantley Gilbert takes the stage to sing “Country Must Be Country Wide.”

806pm They thank the fans and the families. Charles Kelley says, “Look Mom! KISS!”

806pm None of the members of Lady Antebellum actually kissed KISS. Well played.

805pm Award goes to Lady Antebellum.

803pm If you just got in from the dog park, tune to CBS now, the ACM Awards are still going! Music legends KISS take the stage. These guys are so old slash not relevant. They’re presenting vocal group of the year…

801pm The music video for this song was filmed at the same location as his song “Tattoos On This Town”… an airport just outside of Nashville.

8pm Jason Aldean performs “Fly Over States.”

759pm Blake Shelton wins the crowd over with a joke or two, then Reba introduces Jason Aldean.

Move Me, Baby!

One observation I’ve made about Christian radio stations has really started to bother me… most of the music they play is deep, introspective, and self-denying. I support the mission of having positive, uplifting music as an option on the radio. I’m not knocking the radio stations. Deep, introspective, self-denying songs are great but do they all have to be so thought-provoking? I like to look inward and take personal inventory just as much as the next guy, but I’d be headed for a mental breakdown if this type of music were all I was listening to.

Sometimes the brain needs a break and lots of times the heart just needs to beat, not bleed. Perhaps that’s why I find my playlist full of the most random songs. For example, my most recent playlist includes:

Rock & Roll – Eric Hutchinson
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
Good People – Jack Johnson
Freedom – Amos Lee
The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega
Bad (Live) – U2
Christmas Canon Rock – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Good Good End – Waterdeep
Jump Around – House of Pain
Made To Love – TobyMac
Oh What A World – Rufus Wainwright
That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
Awful Beautiful Life – Darryl Worley
Say Hey (I Love You) – Michael Franti
Body Language – Jesse McCartney
Ridin’ Dirty – Chamillionaire
Paradise City – Guns and Roses

We all have depth at some level and it’s true that our souls long for music that moves us. But we also need music that can make us move!

Mumford & Sons:

Zac Brown Band: