Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thank God, I'm a Country Boy - WHAT!?

Well, old age seems to have taken it's toll on my musical sensibilities! Those that know me have often caught me wearing Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin t-shirts, along with a few from and They probably think I've flipped out or that I am having hallucinogenic flashbacks from former drug use. Who knows?

Recently a couple of guys from my church asked me to audition for a band named Up Country. That's right and I said: "Sure, I'll give it a shot."

Before you get all widgy about your own musical tastes, giving this post a thumbs up or a thumbs down, let me explain.

In August of 1978 my friend Dennis and I went to Guitars Unlimited in New Haven and bought our first guitars. I bought a used Yamaha electric, and he bought an acoustic. He wanted to be James Taylor, and I wanted to be Jimmy Page. Fall of '78 came, and we went off to different colleges. I started to play every day - became a music major - transferred to a real music school (Hartt at U. Hartford) - learned classical, jazz and played in a rock band - got a job teaching music at a private high school. How did I turn out? Here is a recent iPhone Video for your listening enjoyment.

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

For the last 20 years I have only played worship on stage. Since I moved to Boston area a few years ago, I have tried put together a Christian rock/worship band that fulfilled my need for some not so wimpy praise music - but didn't find the right chemistry. I had better luck playing with the youth band - you know, the old guy with short hair playing lead guitar.

What was God saying?

Enter a guy with a British accent asking, "Would you have any interest in playing in a country band? The guy that we have now isn't really that passionate about it."

Do I look like John Denver?

"Sure, I have some chops and it might be fun." Heck, I've been playing Honky Tonk Woman since college - and if you can bend a string in the second fret like the opening riff, you are half way to country. "When do you rehearse?"

He sent me a bunch of MP3s and some chordsheets. I don't know why he thought I needed chordsheets, all the good country songs are in D. I practiced a dozen tunes for about a week as I laughed about all the references to tractors and traumatized wives.

It did open my eyes to a whole new world. My wife is a big fan of contemporary country and secretly watches CMT and drinks coffee when I am off doing guy stuff. I'm afraid to ask her if she knows that song that: One More Last Chance by Vince Gill. "Good book in er left and a rolling pin in her right." That's serious Christianity.

Our first rehearsal went pretty well. I noticed that a few lyrics were made a little more umm - let's say sanitary.

My friend Rich was at a TEA Party and held a sign "Down with Taxes" and wore a t-shirt saying "Down With Country - Why Waste A Good Protest!"

My pal Dave Tvedt says that I could lose my salvation just for saying the word "country" in the context of music.

Anyway, now that I'm a convert - or should I say cowboy; twanging away on my red Stratocaster - my favorite song is Big Green Tractor by Jason Aldean. Don't ask why. . . I just like it. OK! Probably for the same reason you still listen to Smoke on the Water. "Some stupid with a flare gun" - glass houses, if you know what I mean.

When you get a chance check out Livin' on Love by Alan Jackson - "But love can walk through fire without blinkin'." Now that's a good message for Christians that are too busy to call you once in a awhile.

I like songs for different reasons. As a guitarist for all these years, I like guitar music, and sometimes I don't even listen to the lyrics. But there is one tune that the lyrics really grabbed me; Montgomery Gentry's Some People Change.

Maybe you identify with a few of them like I did.

On the road to no-where fast,
Till the Grace of God got in the way.
Then he saw the Light an' hit his knees an' cried an' said a prayer:
Rose up a brand new man; left the old one right there.

Here's to the strong; thanks to the brave.

Don't give up hope: some people change.
Against all odds, against the grain,
Love finds a way: some people change.

Thank God for those who make it:
Let them be the Light.

How about you, did you make it? Are you light?

Here is the rest of the lyrics and a video too.


Tony C said...

I'm speechless.

The video clip was smokin', but I just can't picture you in a country music band. It's unnatural, an abomination...scary!

Any future reference to John Denver or John Denver songs will result in an immediate cease of reading for that post and a really sarcastic comment. Be warned!

You should listen to Tvedt.

David said...

So what should I be playing? Last time I played Crazy Train during worship rehearsal, everyone got all religious on me. ;o)

photogr said...


Another talent surfaces. Not much into country but do favor Willie Nelson, Alabama, and John Denver songs.

I am mostly a Jazz music fan and enjoy heavy drum solos. Something to do with my ancient ancestry.

I am a bit ashamed to say that I do enjoy the musuc worship in church more that I do the sermons. It must be the opportunity to get up and sing expressive praises to the Lord in your own way. If I had my way there would only be music worship in a church service.

Joyce Lighari said...

Love it -- having lived in Nashville for 10 years and met some of the people who make Nashville Music City - I say, whatever floats your boat.
Maybe we'll connect on one of my trips back to Nashville.

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