Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you seen that new TV show, Who Do You Think You Are? They take a celebrity and for one hour you walk with them as they discover at certain line of their family history. It’s pretty cool. I suppose we all want to find some great explorer, or entertainer, or politician…well maybe not politician !! But we want to think that we’ve come from people that have made a difference in the world. Good news is, we all have. I have been tracing my ancestry strongly for a couple of years. What I’ve come to realize is they all have a story. We are all parts of the puzzle, not the puzzle itself. Each life, like our own, had happiness and joy, sadness and pain. Some died young, some died old. But they all have something to say to us. Here is a clip of former NFL great and fellow Pensacolian, Emmitt Smith in a segment of “Who Do You Think You Are”, as previewed on Oprah.  Simply fascinating.

If you have any interest in your ancestry, I say get on it. Start tracking it, talking to the elders of your people. When they go, so do many of the wonderful stories. It really is important to be able to pass this down. What’s the old saying “You can’t know where your going, unless you know where you’ve been”….dig for it all, not just the parts that appeal to you. Honor it all.

Maybe you came from Kings and maybe just a long line of folks that lived wonderful, fulfilled lives, and raised their families to do the same.

There are many research site and through the Mormon Church, there are great tools that can help you. Family bibles are another way. It’s a fascinating journey and one well worth taking. So, “Who Do You Think You Are?

Below is a pic of the Chavers Indian School that my family operated in Wildfork, Alabama. Courtesy of the “Brewton Historical Society”

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Ain’t Nothin’ Like It Used To Be

So when were the good ole days? I’m guessing they are different for everyone , right? Do we all yearn for the simple times, or do we really dream of our mental picture of simple times? Could we, would we ,go back to pumping water from a well, going outside to go to the bathroom? Would we want to go back to just 3 TV stations, or better yet, when there was no TV? Lets not even bring up the internet, and all of the “communication” devices even the strongest of us are addicted to.

I guess it happens to every generation. Children are always doing things that their parents didn’t and there becomes the place of ” I tell ya, when I was a kid, we didn’t get to …….? Just fill in your own blank. So on and on it goes. It’s the toughest task at hand, but we’re instructed by all of the great religions to live in the moment. To try and live within each breath and to know that each breath is holy and sacred. Easier said than done I think, but in those brief glimpses I’ve had, it’s a wonderfully peaceful moment. Everything seems to fade away so you can bask in the moment right where God is.

I spoke about this with a friend the other day and his thought was maybe we think back on our own”glory days”, when we thought life was just right, and think of them as the good ole days. When we had the perfect job, or perfect mate, or our “greatness” was in sight! Maybe he’s right. but we can’t change the past and we can’t see the future, so all we really have is the moment. It’s hard but I believe the moment is the sweet spot. Thankfully God isn’t expecting any of us to “be there” all the time, just to recognize it and keep trying.

What do you think? Maybe I’m full of it. Do you live too far in the past? Do you like your past? Do you think you can only make the moment good, by thinking of the future. I hope you find peace wherever you are.

Shine A Light: Michael McDonald

You may be a fan of the pre Michael McDonald Doobie Brothers or a post fan. You may even like both, but there’s no denying that when Michael McDonald lends his voice to a song, he puts a stamp that is totally his own.

Here’s a 1977 performance of “Takin’ It To The Streets”. Classic in anyone’s book!

McDonalds solo LP 1982, “If That’s What It Takes”, featured 2 of his most powerful songs. “I Can Let Go Now” and “Losin’ End”. To me this is the sweet spot of Michael McDonald pulling back the curtain and writing form that painful spot. His voice is so full of soul, that each word is bathed in emotion.

From playing in Steely Dan, to the Doobies and a great solo career that keeps on peaking, it’s hard to say where he’ll stop. Recently McDonald has lent his voice to a couple of Motown CDs, featuring some of the best of artists like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. Those are big shoes to fill, but he brings the music off in his own way.

He is the real deal, so go check him out. Don’t let him just be a voice from the past !

Shine A Light: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard would rather let his music do his talking and he is probably the smarter for it. Not because he isn’t a smart dude, he just doesn’t want to hear himself ramble on, and he probably remembers the old adage about opinions and how everyone has one!

So letting his music do the talking and it has done it quite well for close to 50 years !!! California born, Haggard had a rough go as a child. Losing his father at the age of 9, Merle turned to petty crime, which led finally to a 3 year stint in San Quentin. There he saw Johnny Cash 3 times and decided to turn his life around.

Merle Haggard’s first #1 in 1966 with I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” and three years later had one of the biggest hits of his entire career with “Okie From Muscogee”. in Merle’s words he was just trying to speak for some of the Americans that rarely had a voice. It’s a bit deceptive on the real spirit of the man. But make no mistake Merle Haggard is a patriot, and a seeker of truth. He doesn’t mind stepping on any toes to reach that truth.

I’m fond of Merle’s late 70’s to early 80’s period, with songs like “Kern River”, “Big City”, “Going Where The Lonely Go”, and of course “Poncho and Lefty” with his pal Willie Nelson.

Merle has had roughly 38 #1 hits. has toured endlessly, and worn his trials, victories and failures on his sleeve. If Haggard’s music is not familiar to you, then you owe it to yourself to check it out. He’s been called the “Poet of the common man”. An excellent writer and a voice that just drips truth.

Could You Really Live, Where You Dream Of Living

Ok, so this is perhaps only for those of you that aren’t living in their dream place. I heard a funny joke on a Jackson Browne record. Jackson was playing in a town that had just been voted the best place in America to live. So Jackson asks, “What about the people that were saying they don’t like it here, you mean there’s no place better?”

Is it the constant, plaguing myth of the greener grass. Does it strike all of us or just those of us that have too much and too many choices anyway? Do the ones that grow up too poor to have the means to change just settle in and do the best they can in the place they are? Are places better or worse? I mean, I get that it could be easy to say Beverly Hills is better than a ghetto somewhere. And even all of that is debatable. But is Park City better than Miami? Is Austin better than Nashville? Or is it us that can make anyplace better or worse via our outlook !

I think I have always had the wandering fever of places to live. For a large portion of my life I dreamed of staying put in my hometown and raising my children there and their children and their children…Creating history, and being a deep part of a place. Perhaps having to leave my hometown at 14 and move to a completely different geographical and cultural place set in motion this wandering soul. My wife says that almost every place we travel , that I say “wouldn’t it be cool to live here” !

I’ve had the continual dream to live close to the water again. A quiet life on the beach. maybe even in the islands somewhere. I wonder if I’ll ever make that big leap. Deeply, I wonder if I’d really like it or are those places better for short term visits and fantasies?

Well as you can tell, I don’t have any answers. I still dream of Fiji, Hawaii, The Gulf coast, The Carolina coast, etc, etc. I dream of an idyllic life with my wife, where my children come and hope one day they too can live in paradise. Till then, I like where I am enough, mostly because I love the ones I live with. What do you think? Do you dream of places afar or are you already there?

Postcards From The South: Chattanooga TN

Most folks outside the Southern United States would be hard pressed to tell you where in the state of Tennessee, Chattanooga is ! Well, for the record it is snuggled quietly into the southeastern corner of the state, just a little over an hour north of Atlanta. We were moving our daughter into University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I took a couple of shots that I found interesting and will take more scenic shots on future trips.

The Curl up and Dye Salon was an interesting little spot. I guess it should come as no surprise that they take “walk in’s” !! We were thinking that salons are right up there at the top of the list of always having “creative” names. I use the term “creative” very loosely ! but I thought this one was pretty funny or maybe it was just early and I hadn’t had enough coffee.

If you are ever in Chattanooga and hungry for Barb-Q, give Sugars a try, it was awesome !

I’m thinking if I ever need a wardrobe redo, I’m head to “Funktastic” ! Why not, it seems to be the place for hip threads. But they are in the process of changing locations (big surprise).

Anyone that grew up in the south has forever seen the signs “See Ruby Falls” ! Those signs are engrained in our minds. The famous Lookout Mountain is where you can see 7 states. It’s a cool little town and area to visit. So grab ya some new clothes at Funktastic, some ribs at Sugars, maybe get your “do” a little touch up and the Curl up and Dye, then truck on up to Lookout Mtn !!!

Shine A Light: Stevie Ray Vaughn

Well I guess it was 1983. The venue: Night Town in Destin Florida. The artist: Stevie Ray Vaughn.

I had heard Vaughn’s music for the first time about six months before through friend and constant music provider, Billy Smith. The first chords of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “Texas Flood”, simply blew me away. I had never heard anything with kind of energy in it. That kind of spacing and phrasing with guitar licks that seemed like he had been dropped from another planet.

Hearing Stevie Ray Vaughn was one thing, but seeing him perform was a visual mind blower. Night town was a smoky honky tonk, and I was about 15ft from the stage. He comes out jeans stuffed in almost knee high boots, silky blousy shirt. Broad brimmed hat, with a huge feather plume sticking out. Wow he was a sight ! Let me tell ya the combination of watching him and hearing him was something one could never forget.

What I still remember most some 27 years later, is I had never seen a player and his instrument as one like this. It was and is hard to describe how everything just poured out of him, from his heart right on through those six strings. It was amazing and really to even try and describe it, does the event a dis service, makes it hollow.

The dark day of August 27, 1990 brought the horrible news. Vaughn and others were killed in a helicopter crash after a gig. Gone. Done. No more. Lives turned into memories and epitaphs. Go check out something special.Go check out Stevie Ray Vaughn’s music. Not only will you not be sorry, but you will find a road where you thought was a wall. RIP SRV