The first thing I ever wanted to do was be on the radio. I decided this when I was seven. I went to see the Grand Ole Opry with my father. The lights. The steel guitars. The cowboy hats.
I didn’t want to sing on the radio. I wanted to introduce the bands, shake hands with folks in rhinestones. I wanted to hug Minnie Pearl’s neck.
My father said it was a good dream, especially the part about Minnie Pearl.
“Anything’s possible,” Daddy once told me.
By fifth grade, I’d expanded career interests, since ANYTHING was possible. I wanted to be a writer. Maybe even a journalist.
But fifth grade was when life fell apart. I flunked school, which did a number on my mind.
Kids who flunked were doomed to live in vans and visit KFC’s just to lick other people’s fingers.
In seventh grade, things got worse. My father died. I dropped out of school altogether. I never attended high school. It’s not something I’m
I played a lot of music during that period. By fifteen, I was playing weddings, church socials, feed-store openings, and shoe-store clearances. I played a lot of funerals, too.
Once, I played a Pentecostal funeral. A woman spoke in tongues while I picked “Peace in the Valley.”
I’d never heard such.
The preacher told me to nod and shout “Thank you JEE-ZUSSSSS” when I heard the thus-saith-the-Lords.
In my twenties, I worked construction and played music in the evenings. I played in establishments my mother would have preferred I hadn’t.
I also played piano for a Baptist church on Sundays. That didn’t last long. But that’s a long story I don’t have room for. I will, however, simply say that some Baptists object to playing in beer joints.
Which is no surprise. The Baptists I grew up…