The Grand Ole Opry

“Get in, partner!” said my old man. “We’re late.”

My father was seated behind the wheel of a 1977 F-100. He was dressed in work clothes. Denim. Muddy boots. My father was building the GM plant. He had raccoon eyes from wearing welding goggles, and he smelled worse than a chicken plant burning down.

My father and I piled into the Ford. We drove across Nashville. Whereupon Daddy immediately stopped at Dairy Queen to buy ice cream.

My father was fanatical about his ice cream. In fact—this is true—on weekends when my mother was out of town, my father would eat three square meals of ice cream.

The lady behind the Dairy Queen counter handed us two chocolate dipped cones and an order of fries. We ate them while speeding through Davidson County traffic at dusk.

When we arrived at Opryland. The place was about as big as a subtropical continent. Opryland is home of “The Grand Ole Opry.” It is America’s country-music theme park.

Think: Disneyland with cheating songs.

People filtered into the auditorium to see the Opry. Families. Kids. Winnebagos with gaggles of Midwestern tourists. Guys wearing cowboy hats. People in gaudy T-shirts. The smell of hotdogs and peanuts was in the air. It was like a baseball game, but with fiddles.

“Well, here we are,” said my father.

I was so excited I almost peed my Levi’s. I was wearing an oversized cowboy hat.

My father slapped my shoulder. “You practice your guitar hard enough, one day you’ll be up there on that stage.”

We found a seat. I watched the show with slack-jawed wonder. Because I’ve always been attracted to music. My music obsession began when I was 3, I watched my aunt play “Lo How a Rose ‘Er Blooming” on the piano.

It changed my life.

You don’t choose to play music, music chooses you. It’s an affliction. A problem. An obsession. A compulsion.

I’ve played in bands since I was 9 years old. The first band was in church. I was on piano. Our band consisted of Miss Lynn (age 87) playing a 20 horsepower Hammond organ, Mister Dan (79) playing mandolin, and Miss Lula Mae (178) on the accordion. Our band sounded worse than a Peterbilt diesel falling into a canyon. But it worked.

Then, my life fell apart. My father killed himself when I was 11. After that, music became my berm.

I would lock myself in the basement and play my piano for, sometimes, 8 hours per day. I did this so I wouldn’t have to speak to anyone. I played because as long as I was playing, I wasn’t thinking. Thinking is what hurt the most.

By the time I was a young man, I had dropped out of school. I made a total wreck of my life. My peers were going to football games and learning about hickeys; I was working a job to help Mama.

In the evenings, I played music in establishments my deepwater Baptist mother would have preferred I avoided. Places where the patrons drank their suppers and lost money on Iron Bowls.

My first beer-joint gig was at age 15. I briefly played with a band who named themselves—this is true—“Free Beer.” Whenever the band’s name was spelled out on the marquee (Tonight at the VFW! Free Beer!) we drew huge crowds of greatly disappointed people.

Throughout the years, life would take me on a weird journey. I would play in lots of bands. I would complete my high-school equivalency. I would attend community college.

Eventually, I would become an author. Me. Of all people.

Then I started traveling around and speaking and telling jokes and stories for a living. Music became part of my schtick. For about a decade, I’ve traveled around the United States trying to make people laugh a little.

I am not an impressive musician. In fact, I’m not even very good at what I do. I simply try to make people feel better. The reason I try, is because the one thing I know for certain is that life can suck sometimes. And sometimes there’s nothing you can do but laugh about it.

I can trace my whole career back to that fateful evening when my father took me to the Grand Ole Opry. Daddy, in his filthy clothes, smelling badly. Me in my boots. For all his faults, the man believed in me.

And on March 24, 2023, the year of our Lord, I will be performing on The Grand Ole Opry stage, believing in him.

After which I’m going to Dairy Queen.

And I hope you know that you’re invited.


  1. Bud McLaughlin - December 20, 2022 8:08 pm

    This is exciting, Sean. My wife and I – we live in Huntsville, AL – enjoy your stories and are planning to drive up to Nashville. Best wishes and Merry Christmas!!

    • Paula - March 21, 2023 11:35 pm

      Awesome, Sean. You’re going to do your dad proud, just by showing up! All the rest is gravy!

  2. Sue - December 20, 2022 8:15 pm

    I love it! I’m sure he’s looking down sooo proud of his boy!💕

    • Christine - December 20, 2022 9:24 pm

      So happy and proud for you and I know you’ll make your Daddy proud too.

    • Pamela Chambers - March 25, 2023 3:53 pm

      Please put your appearance on FB.

  3. Janice - December 20, 2022 8:19 pm

    I want to thank you for including your music in your show. My sweet husband said we can do whatever you want for our 30th wedding anniversary. Okay, it was not “on” the date, but was a few days before. We drove to Mentone, Alabama, parked in a pasture, and attended you show in an open pavilion. My husband is a musician, not professional or anything, but he knows quality music. At 21 years old, he worked in the recording studio as the “flunky” while the Allman brothers recorded albums. He has an ear and knows quality music. Back to your show…. I don’t think he was expecting much. However you musical talent really changed his opinion of the show selection. Instead of suffering through, he left with a pep in his step. Thank you, my anniversary show selection was not a flop. Your Dad would be proud of your upcoming appearance. However I bet he would stop at the DQ both going and returning from the show. My Dad had no appreciation of music, but he had a strong appreciation of ice cream. One out of two ain’t bad.

  4. Brenda French - December 20, 2022 8:27 pm

    I have already purchased my tickets. My husband and I are big fans. It is a surprise for him this Christmas. I sure believe he will love the gift of seeing and hearing you at the Grand Ole Opry.

  5. Lynne Pickens - December 20, 2022 8:30 pm


  6. Cindy Carrington - December 20, 2022 8:30 pm

    Loved this story! So sorry your dad passed when you were 11, but look at you now! He’ll be watching and proud!

  7. Shoshana - December 20, 2022 8:31 pm

    I know your dead dad will be watching you with such pride- break a leg!

  8. Anne-Lise - December 20, 2022 8:36 pm

    How wonderful!!! Sean, you deserve every good thing. Your Daddy is so proud of you. We all are too! Thanks for sharing your performance date. Buying tickets now as Christmas gift to myself. I’ll figure out how to get there from New Jersey later on….

  9. Melaney Douglass - December 20, 2022 8:37 pm

    Break a leg!
    The two great He’s above will be watching and blessing you!

  10. Susan - December 20, 2022 8:39 pm

    Well, Glory Glory Hallelujah!!! The Grand Old Opry! Come March 24, 2023 a dream will come true for you, Sean, and I just KNOW your Dad will be there grinning, so proud of you. All of us who admire you are excited for you.💖

  11. Alicia - December 20, 2022 8:39 pm

    I am so very excited that you have this wonderful opportunity. Just know, That only God can do something like this!!! Life isn’t always about an education, how high up on the social ladder you are, or where you come from. Just look around. He uses people from all different walks of life to Bless others. He has certainly done that through you. Please continue to be HIS vessel, to deliver your cheer, laughs, jokes and the wonderful stories that you tell, that continue to fall by the wayside.

    Also, please post a ticket link for your Grand Ole Opry debut.

  12. Richard Wayne Matheny - December 20, 2022 8:40 pm

    Nothing grander than the Grand Ol Opry. Did anyone ever tell you that when you do music it’s you soul speaking.

  13. Linda Lewis - December 20, 2022 8:43 pm

    Wow! The Grand Ole Opry! That’s awesome. That’s quite an honor. I’m happy for.

  14. davidpbfeder - December 20, 2022 8:48 pm


  15. Patricia Gibson - December 20, 2022 8:50 pm

    That is awesome and if I didn’t have a conflict, I would be there!!!

  16. Julia - December 20, 2022 8:53 pm

    Yes, Sean, yes. Congratulations! We’ll be there…

  17. Gordon - December 20, 2022 8:56 pm

    This is SO wonderful in so many ways, Sean. And I know it will be a fantastic evening for you and Jaime and for all those attending. Congratulations!!

  18. Delanie - December 20, 2022 8:58 pm

    I am so happy for you!!!! Congratulations!!

  19. Robert - December 20, 2022 9:00 pm

    I plan on being there!

  20. sjhl7 - December 20, 2022 9:00 pm

    Can’t wait for this event! Fantastic! So happy for you and Jamie!

  21. Sandi. - December 20, 2022 9:02 pm

    So happy for you, Sean! I predict that there will be standing room only at the Grand Ole Opry on March 24, 2023. You’ll be playing to a sold-out crowd of fans! Wishing you only great things, including a blessed Christmas.

  22. Palmer A - December 20, 2022 9:04 pm

    I hope you have an inkling of the impact you make on people. What a legacy. Dad would be beyond proud.

  23. Sondra - December 20, 2022 9:04 pm

    Amazing!! Wonderful!!! Your father would be so proud!!

  24. Carla Estling - December 20, 2022 9:11 pm

    Congratulations Sean! Thank you for sharing your life with us. I’m so glad I found your blog. Enjoy your Dairy Queen!

  25. Judy - December 20, 2022 9:14 pm

    Got my tickets. Excited to hear you.

  26. Tab from MinneSNOWta - December 20, 2022 9:23 pm

    I’m planning on being there with my besties. Love your work. Flying in from MN.

  27. Anne Berkenkotter - December 20, 2022 9:27 pm

    Lord willing, I will be watching the grand old Opry March 24, 2023

  28. Becky Souders - December 20, 2022 9:28 pm

    I wish I was younger and healthier, Sean. I would come! Thanks for your good words. Merry Christmas to you and Jamie!

  29. Regina Parham - December 20, 2022 9:29 pm

    I do wish I could be there to share that epic moment with you and an Opry House slam full of people who’ll be smiling and cheering right along with you. Your poppa is so proud and happy for you God bless

  30. missusmux - December 20, 2022 9:34 pm

    I am so excited for you, Sean! I think this moment was prophesied! You deserve it and will please a whole lot of your fans. Just wish I could be there! What a Christmas present!!! <3

  31. Amy - December 20, 2022 9:47 pm

    I would love to be there. So excited for you! My husband used to help with The Grand Ole Gospel after the Opry on Saturday nights. He even sat next to Johnny Cash in church! I am so grateful to have found your emails. Love reading them. Thank you!


  32. Alan Martin - December 20, 2022 9:47 pm

    Love, love, love your writing!!!!!!
    “Free Beer”—-best band name ever😂

  33. Kathy H., Farmington MN - December 20, 2022 9:51 pm

    Oh! We just sang “Lo How a Rose… ” at church last week. Love the Peterbilt comment. And DQ is going to be swamped that night… I hope somebody warns them.

  34. Anne Arthur - December 20, 2022 9:51 pm

    Oh, how I wish I wouldn’t live so far away! Otherwise, I would be there! Nevertheless, my good wishes and prayers for an exceptional show are with you.

  35. David - December 20, 2022 9:53 pm

    I think I may have to plan a road trip! I would love to be there! You’re the bomb Sean!
    BTW why aren’t we seeing the comments any more? Or is it just my iPad?

  36. William J Webb - December 20, 2022 9:54 pm

    I would love to go to the Opry. Not only to see your show but The Mother Church of Country Music has been on my bucket list for years. But at 64 years old it’s easier on my joints to travel to one of my streaming devices. The almost 600 mile round trip from Montgomery is more than I wish to tolerate. Lol. So I wish you best on your Opry debut. Im sure that ice creme afterwards is going to be the best you have ever had.

  37. Diana - December 20, 2022 10:00 pm

    Oh Sean, if I could be there I would be down front—hoping I was sitting next to your smiling daddy.

  38. Sissy Lingle - December 20, 2022 10:01 pm

    We are so proud of you, Sean, and proud of the Opry folks for finally realizing you should be there. Wish we could be there too. I hope you can take Marigold!

  39. Marilyn - December 20, 2022 10:01 pm

    Congratulations, Sean!

  40. Jane Sparacio - December 20, 2022 10:07 pm

    I want to be there… but I can’t. Break a leg Sean, your daddy is watching and grinning for from ear to ear. A few other loved ones are joining him, just tip you hat in acknowledgment to them. Thrilled for you!

  41. Alan Day - December 20, 2022 10:11 pm

    Congrats! I’ll be watching from Boston. Break a leg.

  42. Randy Jones - December 20, 2022 10:15 pm

    Awesome! Full circle ! Love this one

  43. Steve Leachman - December 20, 2022 10:16 pm

    Congratulations. This is a MAJOR achievement. Even with all your self deprecations, you know it too. Unfortunately I live and work in central Florida and I know I won’t make the show. But I will have a dipped cone here in Florida on that day in celebration of your MAJOR achievement.

  44. Scott Hilliker - December 20, 2022 10:16 pm

    Congrats Sean! That’s going to be a spectacular occasion. -Scott Hilliker, Northport, Al

  45. Frank E Abell - December 20, 2022 10:20 pm

    Congrats to you! Hard- and well-earned.

  46. Michelle M - December 20, 2022 10:25 pm

    I’ll be there! Just bought tickets. So excited to finally see you. I read you every day. Merry Christmas & congratulations!

  47. Pattie Riethmaier - December 20, 2022 10:30 pm

    We already have our tickets. Our friends Kathy and Floyd Lee are coming with us!!! See you there!

  48. thouse1001 - December 20, 2022 10:35 pm

    Totally LOVE this! Life can be rough, but in the end, it makes us who we are. Some for the worse, some for the better, but you are in the latter group. And you found an absolute jewel to share that with you. God Bless you both, and I hope your debut goes perfectly!

  49. JoAnne Kimrey - December 20, 2022 10:45 pm

    Woohoo! Congratulations! Your dad will be smiling down on you!

  50. Marie Hall - December 20, 2022 10:50 pm

    Uplifting story of such a special bond

  51. Marie Hall - December 20, 2022 10:52 pm

    Uplifting and a special bond

  52. Chris Spencer - December 20, 2022 10:52 pm

    Well deserved Sean. I hope to see you there. The first chocolate-covered cone is on me.

  53. susufl - December 20, 2022 11:01 pm

    I’m so proud of you! Perseverance is such an important skill to teach children…
    My father also played music in high school. In his senior year of HS, he and two buddies formed a little combo and started playing at roadhouses in Western Maryland. They were Lutherans, up their mothers would have skinned them alive as well. It was 1935-36 and they were taking home $10 each every weekend Imagine! In the fall, they went to different colleges, and my dad kept playing in the Duke U band. Years later he would play in different Shriners’ bands. For his 72nd birthday, he got a new trap set. When he died, I was an HS assistant principal at a school with strong performing arts program including a jazz band. I let the director know that I wanted to donate my father’s drums. I reassured him that it would be all right. When the students started taking the equipment out of my car, they couldn’t believe what they had…everything top drawer and in beautiful condition. I love that my father could contribute to another generation.

  54. Mandy - December 20, 2022 11:01 pm

    And if you don’t believe in God after this story..

    • PMc - December 20, 2022 11:40 pm

      Oh Sean congratulations!! I hope this blessed event starts the closure of your pain with your Dad’s passing. I keep hearing that beautiful song that gives our family a circle that is unbroken, I hope and pray your healing comes in the new year!
      Peace and Love from Birmingham🙏♥️

  55. mccutchen52 - December 20, 2022 11:05 pm

    When I was a kid, in rural Arkansas, I used to listen to the Grand Old Opry on a Cub Scout crystal diode radio. I am in Georgia now and I just might make the trip. Have fun and “break a leg”.

  56. Gigi - December 20, 2022 11:27 pm

    Congratulations on this amazing & well deserved achievement! I sure do wish we could be there, but it’s our sons 50th birthday and we’re far away from Nashville. I know your Daddy will be watching you that evening with so much pride !! ❤️😍❤️

  57. Anne - December 20, 2022 11:39 pm

    Would love to be there to hear you! Best of luck!

  58. pattymack43 - December 20, 2022 11:45 pm

    A most coveted invitation!! I’m too far away in the PNW, but I will spiritually applaud your performance. If music is truly in your heart, you just have to let it out!! Congrats! on your upcoming appearance at The Grand Ole Opry!! Christmas Blessings to you and Jaime!

  59. Barbara - December 20, 2022 11:47 pm

    Good for you buddy, you deserve it, God Bless America, the oprey and you

  60. Martha Williamson - December 20, 2022 11:48 pm

    good one. Brought me smiles.

  61. Danthia D Newman - December 20, 2022 11:57 pm

    I want to be in that audience.
    My dad is a Dairy Queen ice cream die hard fan. One treat we could count on if you were with him.

  62. Shirley Gilliland - December 21, 2022 12:05 am

    Good for you. I hope I can watch.

  63. Corky Smith - December 21, 2022 12:13 am

    You should be so proud! Jamie must be so proud!
    WE are so proud of you!!!
    You are a great American!
    (The greatest compliment I can pay someone I admire)

  64. Barbara Barnes - December 21, 2022 12:27 am

    I can’t wait to hear about your gig at the GOO.

  65. Peggy Howell - December 21, 2022 12:33 am

    I love your writing. You, my friend, have a God given talent😊

  66. KiKi - December 21, 2022 12:34 am

    I am battling cancer or I would be there. In reading comments I read that some can watch it. I’ll have to figure out how to do that. I would be there if I could. What a special time this will be. I’m truly happy for you and Jamie. Even happier for the people who get to enjoy your show.

  67. Billy Nunn - December 21, 2022 1:13 am

    Fantastic. Don’t forget us down here in Panama City in the Gulf Jazz Society. We love you and appreciate you playing in the Jazz Festival.

  68. Carolyn - December 21, 2022 1:26 am

    So many are proud of you!

  69. Melissa Brown - December 21, 2022 1:35 am

    Fabulous opportunity – you are the best Sean.

  70. Sheri K - December 21, 2022 1:58 am

    Oh Sean, I’m so happy for you!!!!! That March date took my breath away!! I know your dad will be there, cheering you on!! God bless you and Merry Merry Christmas!!!

  71. Susan - December 21, 2022 2:34 am


  72. Susan Kennedy - December 21, 2022 2:55 am


  73. AlaRedClayGirl - December 21, 2022 2:57 am

    Congratulations on your Grand Ole Opry gig. I know you will do us all proud!

  74. Stacey Wallace - December 21, 2022 3:15 am

    Sean, your Daddy is so proud of you and so are my husband Mike and I. You are a very successful man because you have a great talent for making us feel better every day. Thank you so much! Love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.

  75. Sandra Schumann - December 21, 2022 3:48 am

    We are expecting a grandson the end of March and have to stay home to support our son and his wife – she has no relationship with her own mother now, so I have to be there for her too – or I would be there!! Congratulations! Hope it is televised.

  76. Suzanne Scivley - December 21, 2022 4:02 am

    I want to be there!😃

  77. Eric Enquist - December 21, 2022 4:03 am

    Sean, After reading your thesis on The Grand Ole Opry I immediately purchased tickets for March 2023. I have not told Emme yet because Christmas isn’t until Sunday December 25, 2022. She will grin just like the first time she met me a very very long time ago. Standing on the Opry circle will be like standing before the Pearly Gates. Everyone will be grinning and shaking in their boots at the same time. How eventful….wow. Can’t wait until both of us are grinning at you for the first time.

  78. Steve Winfield (lifer) - December 21, 2022 4:04 am

    This is the 73rd comment. I so hope you read it.
    When I met you & Jamie at the Brookwood Village book store a couple years ago you hugged me & called me a lifer. I’ve proudly wore that name ever since.
    I’ve watched you grow, write many books & gain a legion of fans. I couldn’t be more proud.
    I grew up in a very tiny Alabama town. 5 churches, 2 stores, a 4 room school & an 8 X 10 post office. My brother and I were raised by our dad & a nanny. He drove a truck for Standard Oil for 39 years. Andy Griffith X 1,000.
    Enough about me.
    I’m very proud of what you’ve become & I just know you’ve got many more mountains to climb. We also share our love for dogs. Especially misfits.
    Thanks for making my day so many times & thanks for making the days for so very many others.
    God bless you, Jamie & the dogs in Jesus wonderful name.
    Love always.
    Lifer Steve.

    • Eddie Bruner - December 21, 2022 9:28 am


  79. Ruth - December 21, 2022 4:25 am

    Oh wow, thrilled to hear that! Thinking of Johnny cash singing the old hymn. “will the circle be unbroken” so very happy for you.

  80. Cindy Castle - December 21, 2022 4:32 am

    Congratulations! I wish I could be there to see you!

  81. Rich K. - December 21, 2022 4:54 am

    I’m putting Sean D. on March 24, 2023 on my calendar. Even if I can’t be there, I’ll be smilin’ along with your Daddy! Break a leg, Sean!

  82. Melanie - December 21, 2022 6:01 am

    For real?! Oh Sean this is like a dream for you. And he will be listening. And crying. And smiling big. Congratulations!

  83. Eddie Bruner - December 21, 2022 9:25 am

    Sean,……..Wouldn’t miss it for the world….see ya there…..Eddie Bruner

  84. Larry Notestine - December 21, 2022 10:34 am

    Sean, I just know you’ll be the hit of the evening. Good luck and have fun!

  85. Susie - December 21, 2022 12:48 pm

    Oh Sean! Congratulations! Your daddy will be smiling at you and standing with you on that stage! I’m so dang excited for you! Merry Christmas to you and Jaime and Happy New Year too! Love ya’ll!

  86. Svetlana - December 21, 2022 1:07 pm

    You’re on my calendar, Sean. I’ll be giving you a standing ovation in spirit! Hugs n’ blessings to you!

  87. Peggy Crunk - December 21, 2022 2:33 pm

    This is wonderful. I am proud of you and know your Dad is also!

  88. Richard Owen - December 21, 2022 2:52 pm

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Congrats, Sean!

  89. Janet Wallace - December 21, 2022 3:01 pm

    Wonderful story! I know you will be great at the Grand Ole Opry and I know your Dad will be there. Thank you for all the great stories and if you are ever in my neck of the woods I would most definitely come to see you in person. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely wife (and all the dogs too)!

  90. JonDragonfly - December 21, 2022 3:07 pm

    As you can see, all your SEANannigans are mighty proud of you.
    And you sure wouldn’t have made it without your Sweet Jamie.

  91. Gary Norris - December 21, 2022 6:53 pm

    Beautiful story. Leaves a lump in my throat.

  92. Ann Friend - December 22, 2022 3:27 am

    Congratulations! Your Dad would be so proud of you!

  93. Judy - December 22, 2022 4:19 am

    Great read as usual.

  94. Trish - December 22, 2022 6:04 am

    How very wonderful

  95. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - December 22, 2022 6:39 am

    I would love to be at the Opry to see you perform. They make a big deal about it being your Opry Debut. Maybe Circle TV will spotlight you for that! I will be listening on the radio for sure!

  96. Mary Spechko - December 22, 2022 12:33 pm

    “Break a leg” Sean

  97. Marci Welker - December 23, 2022 6:24 am

    I’m so proud of you. I have heard you play and you will be wonderful..

  98. Renee Welton - December 23, 2022 8:16 pm

    Oh I am so excited for your Grand Old Opry engagement!! I’m very sorry to read about your Dad’s passing💙 You are a great writer, I hope this appearance garners you many more followers and readers. Break a leg♥️♥️

  99. Patricia Jones - December 23, 2022 10:15 pm

    Congratulations on your up coming appearance at The Opery.

  100. Amy Rogers - December 24, 2022 1:50 am

    I have been waiting for this! I plan to be there. I am so proud of you!


  101. Anne Trawick - December 25, 2022 6:07 am

    Bought 5 tickets to your show today. Donalsonville GA will be in your audience.

  102. Linda C. Clark - December 26, 2022 4:14 pm

    Your daddy was right! Congratulations, Sean. It may have been quite the circuitous route to get there but you are going to get to fulfill his prediction.

  103. Debbie Haggerty - December 30, 2022 12:30 pm

    And I would love to be there! Good luck!

  104. Sue - January 3, 2023 1:01 am

    Congratulations! It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  105. Lisa Newey - January 4, 2023 4:25 am

    I am so proud of you, and so excited for you. I know your Daddy would have been grinning from ear to ear watching you with so much pride.

  106. Pam Williams - January 5, 2023 5:50 am

    A truly amazing story! I love reading your articles.

  107. Bob Howard - January 5, 2023 9:52 pm

    Congrats dear man. I’m sure happy for you! So is your dad.

  108. Lisa - April 11, 2023 2:19 am

    I never heard of you before reading about your meetings Minnie Pearl, I have always loved her thats why I stopped and read your story and I live in Aiken,Sc where she brought her hat for her act… I will look for your books thank you…


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