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There’s a great song in “Mamma Mia” that runs,

    Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
    Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
    Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
    What would life be?
    Without a song or a dance what are we?
    So I say
    Thank you for the music
    For giving it to me

As I tell the girls stories about each Christmas song we hear, I find myself thinking about my Dad. He loved music and my favorite day to spend with him was Saturday — OK, slight qualifier, Saturdays when he wasn’t wearing the white coveralls. He was a college dean and when farming, or puttering on machinery at home he always did it neatly. To the brothers & I, the white coveralls were the ones he wore when he was in a grumpy mood.

So, on non-white-clad Saturdays, I would follow him around from the shop, to the field, to his office and there was always a radio of some sort. We would start the afternoon with the Metropolitan Opera sponsored by Texaco. It was so cool, they explained the stories before each act, so you felt you were sitting in box seats listening to the finest voices in the world.

Later after everyone cleaned up we would watch Lawrence Welk, or Hee Haw (depending on everyone’s mood, and the guest star on Hee Haw). If it was Lawrence Welk, Daddy would clear the floor and dance with Mama or me. He taught me the waltz, the box step, a little Texas swing. Afterwards, sometimes, he would make the best milkshakes in the world (honey — you make awesome ones too 🙂 ).

The highlight of the evening came next. Daddy would turn on the Grand Ole Opry. He & my Mom would tell stories of listening to it as kids. Daddy talked about listening to it while he was in Boston in WWII and missing home so much. When Chris & I discussed moving to TN, I told my Dad that he would have to visit and we could go out to the Ryman for a show. Unfortunately, Daddy died three years ago this past Monday, six months after we’d moved from NC.

I got to go to the Ryman for the first time a few Friday nights ago and it was magical. The girls had never seen a live radio show — and they giggled at the “yum yum” spots for Cracker Barrel, the bank and even Johnson Controls. Of course, the performers — ancient and young were spectacular. My youngest loved the squeezebox that came out with Jimmie C. Newman’s cajun opener. My fashionista loved the costumes worn by Emily West and Elizabeth Cook — and disturbingly was equally appreciative of Chris Young (not that I blame her, but…. she’s my baby).

We chose that night because both the Grascals and Radney Foster were on the bill — when Chris & I were dating Radney had some “hurtin” songs that Chris loved. He’s evolved into some kick-ass Texas swing — awesome!!! The Grascals have the potential to move into a Bela Fleck-like bluegrass-rock-tejano fusion — right now, they just jam as a bluegrass party band.

The glory of the Opry is how they treasure those who’ve come before. We saw veterans such as Jeannie Seely, Bobby Osborne, Jim Ed Brown, Mel McDaniel and the VA Playboys. At one point, the girls turned to me and just sighed. They honestly feel that if they attended the Royal Philharmonic in London — the band would break into “Rocky Top,” which of course happened at the Opry (performed by Bobby Osborne — how cool is that?!). One of the emcee/performers was Bill Anderson, who had hits such as “Bright Lights and Country Music” several years in the past. He had Chris guffawing and the girls giggling & asking for explanations as he performed such hits as “Walk Out Backwards, so I think you’re Walking In,” “Wherever she is, I hope she stays there, and the upcoming, “The only good years we had were on our car.” The latter hasn’t been recorded yet — but makes me grin every time I think about explaining what he meant to the daughters.

So, as we careen wildly into the holidays — take some time, listen to some music — share some stories.

the setlist from our Opry night: Careless Love (the VA playboys); Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On (Mel McDaniel); Blue Sky (Emily West); Happy Go Lucky (the Grascals); I Can’t Help it If I’m Still in Love with You (Elizabeth Cook); Orange Blossom Special (Bobby Osborne); Drinkin’ Me Lonely (Chris Young); The Only Daddy that will Walk the Line (the Grascals); Stand Up (Mel McDaniel); Rocks in Your Shoes (Emily West); Rocky Top (Bobby Osborne); Voices (Chris Young); Jambalaya (Jimmie C. Newman); Just Call Me Lonesome (Radney Foster); Walk Out Backwards (Bill Anderson); Pop a Top (Jim Ed Brown); Oh Lonesome Me (Jan Howard); Alons a Lafayette (Jimmie C. Newman); Anytime (Jeannie Seely); The Three Bells (Jim Ed Brown); Big Idea (Radney Foster); and Don’t Touch Me (Jeannie Seely)

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable. –> the curmudgeonly Samuel Johnson

Take care,
Aly

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