Shine A Light: Todd Snider

Folks have been giving me Todd Snider music for years now. Another friend lives right down the street from him and sings his praises all the time. I just never got it. Now I do ! I think I was trying to compare him to other singer songwriters that I know, looking for him to be a poet of that degree. That ain’t Todd Snider’s gig. Listening to a live record lent by a friend of mine, I find his humor, and I find a lyric that’s pretty dang good. Funny, insightful and talking about everyday things, but in a way that is really cool.

Sorry i missed you all those times before Todd, but I got ya now. Go check out Todd Snider’s music on i tunes. Just invest in a few of them and then sit back and listen. The “live” record may be a good one to start with because it shows his personality more.

Let me know if you like any of it..Happy Listening !

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Shine A Light: Chris LeDoux

Rodeo folks knew the name Chris Ledoux long before Garth Brooks made it a household name in his song “Much too young(to feel this damn old)”. You remember the lyric right, everybody that was alive in 1989 does, “An wore out tape of Chris Ledoux, lonely women and bad booze, seem to be the only friends i have left at all”. Well that shot Ledoux’s name out there into the great big music universe.

Here is one of my favorite Ledoux tunes called “This Cowboy hat”

Chris Ledoux was the real deal my friends. A true cowboy. Champion bareback rider, bronze sculptor and musician. Ledoux had been making records and singing for years around the rodeo circuit. When the Brooks song mentioned him it changed everything.

Garth Brooks has always given credit to Chris Ledoux for his live shows. Know for high energy shows, Brooks says he modeled them after seeing a LeDoux show in California.

LeDoux was always known as what the rest of us want cowboys to be. Honest, forthright, and able to go the distance. Ledoux has it all. Unfortunately, we lost Chris LeDoux much too early. Battling with liver illness, and surviving a transplant, Chris succumbed to a cancer that attacks the small intestines in 2005.

My friend Lane Turner is the lead in a a off Broadway play called “One Ride” about Chris LeDoux. If you are in the area, go check it out. If it goes over well, they will tour also. Lane is a great singer and comes from honest cowboy culture.

So, go give LeDoux’s music a shot. It’s a breath of fresh air !!

Cowboy To Me

He was the last of the cowboys- a few straight words was his way

He was the first to greet the sunrise- and the last one to call it a day

Ridin’ strong, livin’ on and bein’ free- he was a cowboy to me

He did all you might expect- horses n’ cattle n’ pastures of green

But you can’t make a cowboy- with just boots n’ buckles n’ jeans

And there’s more than most will ever see- he was a cowboy to me

Years were good, but don’t last forever- every mother’s son is goin’ home

That western sky is holdin’ a tear- for the only life he’d ever known

He is gone but he is still free- always a cowboy to me

yes, he’ll always be a cowboy to me

Dedicated to the memory of Chris LeDoux, Lane Frost, Jim Shoulders and Doyle Howell

The Parent Thing

For about every parent I know, I see a different way of parenting. A reminder that there is no manual and to distill it down to nothing but “love” is tricky. There is tough love of course, which as a whole, we aren’t as fond of these days. It seems that when we give “tough love” is when we can’t afford to do something, so we call it “tough love”. I wonder if that was always the case.

I am a parent to children from ages 15- 21 right now. The further I go down this road the less I feel I know, yet at the same time, I find pockets of peace. I get the sense that everything is going to work out ok. It scares me to write that and say I believe that, when so far no big tragedy has happened. So within the non tragedy realm this post would be. For those of you that I know and ones I don’t that have faced a big tragedy, my heart aches for you always, and your courage and peace are pulsing through my veins always.

I think for me, when I realized that I didn’t own my children, it gave me a freedom to love them deeper for who they were. Yes, I feel a large part of my role is to shape them, but also to introduce them to a world of possibilities and a way of thinking that is open to hope and being positive. While it is keeping them between the ditches of life, it hopefully isn’t done with fear. They will find and need their own ditches for sure, but I want them to know that isn’t where they have to stay.

I also have to be big enough to let the child be the teacher at times. That isn’t always easy for me. Any of us that have teenagers already know when we have difficulty hooking up some electronic, you go straight to them. But they can be teachers of who we really are as parents. We can see our behaviors , justifications and ill reasoning in them. We can sense when, who we say or think we are, tears away from who we really are as we look into their eyes. For me, those have been times of growth for both child and parent.

This is a short post because I really don’t have any deep words of wisdom to pass on. It is a role in my life that I live with and breathe in deeply everyday. My mistakes hang over me like a heavy cloud sometimes, wishing I could change what happened to their little hearts. The closeness I feel, I cherish like something I may never get again. I try to carve deep into their spirits their connection with the Creator. One free of guilt and shame. One of love, one of fulfillment. And yes, of course love. Lots of love. I hope they feel it and would agree.

Shine A Light: Miranda Lambert

I feel as distant to today’s Country Music as I think I could possible be. Perhaps it’s age, and with the “image” presence so strong these days it changes the shape of the picture. I will admit I think the craft of the writing is less than it used to be. I also think even the stuff I think of as weak is written by guys that have great stuff in their catalog. It is just damn hard to get something really well crafted with depth and uniqueness on the radio today. Here is an exception. “The house that built me”, written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, performed perfectly by the 2010 CMA female vocalist of the year, Longview Texas native, Miranda Lambert.

The idea of us going back to our childhood homes isn’t all that new, but the angle the writers took is so unexpected and realize how places shape us. It culminates in the hook “The house That Built Me”.

The record that contained “The House That built Me” is Revolution. If you think it’s like other records that have one or two good songs and the rest are fillers, well, you will be pleasantly surprised by this one. Her third project and Miranda has written all but 4 of these songs. To me, standout tracks are Fred Eaglesmith’s “Time to Get A Gun”, and “Virginia Bluebell by Jennifer Kennard. Miranda contributes solid cool songs like “Me and Your Cigarettes, and my first favorite “Airstream Trailer”.

Country fan or not, this record is worth checking out. It’s a wonderful hope that it all hasn’t gone by the wayside….Oh yeah, there is a really cool version of John Prine’s “That’s The Way The World Goes Round”. When Prine cuts something, you can’t try and reproduce what he’s done. You have to make your own stamp and Miranda did that in spades.

Let me know what you think !

My Own Margaritaville

Today in Nashville it’s 76 degrees. We’ve not really had any cold weather yet, save for a few nights right around freezing. For years now as I’ve lived away from the ever present home of my heart on Florida’s Gulf Coast, I’ve played beach playlists on the stereo and pulled books off the shelf that would magically transport me back home.

Home to lazy, sunny, salty air days, with the clanking of the mainsails in the distance. Home to longboards, shrimp boats and street names that are as much a part of my memories as my family. Names like Cervantes, DeSoto, Innerarity Point. Places like Wolf Bay, Perdido Key and the Sugar Bowl. Places to grab a grouper sandwich by the Gulf, drink a cold beer and watch life pass by from the eagle eye view of paradise.

A place where some can’t wait to leave and can’t explain why they long to return. A place where some never leave and very few feel trapped. A little strip of earth, of sugar white sands, tanned laughing children, and the presence of God drifting and dipping with the effortless sea gull. To America’s first settlement. To the land of the Muscogee Creeks and Panzacola Indians. To my forefathers and a place my children are spiritually tied to with the loose moorings of love.

Here I am in Nashville. a wonderful city, but it just ain’t home. It will be a long winter, if those Buffett playlists are already gracing the sounds of my house. Hopefully I can hold off the lure of home, until my usual winter migration to touch the sand and take deep breaths of heaven.

Why Can’t We Be Friends ?

I drove along Franklin Rd the other day, and began humming the old song “Why Can’t we Be Friends” to myself.  I was re-stunned at how many churches are on that road. I lost count around 20. Check it out on Google maps, the amount of red pins was insane. And this is all under the heading of Christian.

I understand the gravity of someones faith and the importance it plays in a life, but why, when we disagree on some point do we pack up and reconvene with folks that see it “just like we do”. Just a hint, but we never see God exactly the same as our neighbor. If we all knew the truth about each others thoughts on any given day, there would be a lot more churches on Franklin Rd.

I love the congregating part, and am intrigued by folks that think differently than I do. When I talk with those people, I feel like I always walk away with a little wider lens. I’m not saying there is never a good reason to break away, but it saddens me that it feels like a remedy for people and groups. Out of sight, out of mind maybe…but not out of spirit.

If we could agree that nobody has this big fat mystery all figured out, then why can’t we hang a little closer together, maybe trying to see why someone feels like they do. We can break this thought down to our own personal relationships. We don’t see eye to eye with our spouses and children on every topic. We don’t leave them because we see things differently. If it continues to be “our way or the highway”, then I think we’ll be traveling alone more often.

Even when we work together, it seems like religious ideals are the areas that we give lesser ground to our neighbor. The one area that nobody really knows for sure until they die. It is a fear based ? Is the understanding so vast, so complicated that we just pick something. We pick a position, stand behind tradition, dig a hole and hop in?

Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is saying that it isn’t meant to be “figured out”. Our spiritual connection to the Creator isn’t a math problem, it isn’t a line in the sand to pick sides. It’s an extremely personal journey of awakening every day to a new understanding. A deeper connection. One with more love, more mercy, and more peace. If I spend more time listening to my life, my heart, working on my stuff and there’s plenty of it, then I grow. I become more tolerant. I let the notion that I need to be right just slip away.

This post has spoken chiefly to the divisions we have within the Christian faith. What of all the Creators other children? The Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, etc…..Maybe that’s a separate post and a whole other set of walls and bridges.

So, I’ve rambled on enough and not sure if I’ve made much of a point. I would love to hear your thoughts on walls and bridges. What being tolerant means to you. Do you struggle with your own backyard, and if so, does that make you want to talk about someone else’s back yard? What does the heart of Jesus teach us? I hope distilled down to its purest would just be love.

Here’s a little tune to sum it up. “One Love” by a wonderful lover of Jesus, Bob Marley.