I grew up on the Eagles, the Beatles, lots of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I even went through a time of some Sheena Easton and Def Leppard in the college years, but I always avoided country music like it was a bill collector, until the last 10 years or so, as marriage and kids and then my leaving the coaching ranks for the counselor chair took hold of my fiber, pulling me back to my smalltown, work--a-day roots. I started liking a little twang, but I refused to buy a pair of boots.
One windy night toward the end of May, as I stood on the football field after an emotional graduation ceremony, my first as a counselor, as the lights went out, and fireworks started to go off, I heard the beginnings of a song called My Wish, which I recognized as being by Rascal Flatts. I was finally, unequivocally captured, as I watched seniors in the darkened stadium dance, heard them laugh, run like kindergartners, their robes flapping behind them, as the music played over the loudspeakers with a backdrop of flares and explosions.
A natural evolution was to develop some Dierks Bentley fondness, some Brad Paisley affinity, go back and grab some George, some Clint Black, throw in some Martina McBride, and I had something going on during the long drive from Mesquite to Grandview, while I was finishing my Master's. And, of course, I deepened by knowledge and appreciation of Rascal Flatts, with Amy even buying me a CD that I played to death, with "Why Wait" and "I Will Stand By You" blaring on the way to work many mornings, when I was a little tired and needed some energy and some deep crooning to make sure my voice worked well enough to talk to kids during presentations. I didn't care if anyone saw me emote, either, as I crossed the bridge to make the final run to school.
So, this March, when I saw the Flatts advertised for a trip to Dallas, I snatched up the idea of two tickets for our anniversary celebration in July. A bonus would be special guests Little Big Town, as most of my kids know Boondocks, front and back, and some other guests, which turned out to be Eden's Edge and Thompson Square, and we laid a blanket out on a not-too-hot night and settled in for a great night, although I did find out sadly that Shiner was considered an "export" beer. We made it through the first three groups, with Amy claiming I had developed a little crush on the poufy haired blonde from LBT, but I was really focused on getting to Joe Don and the boys. Things started promisingly, with some Banjo, and then there wa a turn of events that made me go meh. A part of their concert was to have audience members shout out songs, and they did a minute and a half rendition of them. I was a bit off when they zoomed through Mayberry, as Andy Griffin had just died, but then when they made short work of My Wish, I felt myself have some mild but real disappointment.We enjoyed every bit of the remainder of the show, including the encore of Boston's Foreplay/Long Time, which I want to be played at my funeral. Still, I felt the pull of listening to the full song, and I did that on Spotify the next week, along with full versions of about 40 other songs until I was full.
With, that said, it brings me to where I wanted to go, as I believe country music has become fully part of my texture as a counselor and speaks to all of us, with its makeup of great laughter, heartfelt sadness, appreciation for little things on a grand scale, and occasionally a good drinking moment reflected in me from the inside out. I mean, the Beastie Boys still do it for me, and I know the words to some Gotye, but country speaks to me on our level. And, so, as we get started, I wanted to extend best regard, wishes, to all of you who labor as counselors, in the elementaries with their hugs and pictures that proclaim their love for you, in the intermediates and middle schools where they start to feel great love for their BFFs and their first real crushes, to the high school level, where hormones and testosterone can turn on a dime, and there is such great capacity for joy and pain. I don't want you to feel the slightest bit cheated, so here is the full song, and I hope it speaks to you. I am available for vocalizing this, given time, but you will have to ride wiht me early in the morning on say, a Tuesday, to get the full effect. Here's to you!