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Welcome to my website. I hope you will enjoy the eclectic collection of short stories and essays. They are all very close to my heart, in whichever genre. I always welcome comments and feedback. Once again, I hope you enjoy my site. Thank you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Country Music Artist of the Month ... Alan Jackson

"Country Music Artist of the Month ... Alan Jackson"

Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson was born on October 17, 1958.  His first release to country music came in 1989 with the song, Blue Blooded Women which did not enter the top 40.  However, after that initial disappointment, his career took off; making him one of the most popular artists in the history of country music.

In his successful career, Alan Jackson has become a fan favorite, with over 60 million albums sold and 35 number 1 hits.  He has also been richly adorned with critical recognition with 35 major awards for his music including 2 Grammys Awards.  In addition to these accolades, he was also named a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1991.  This array of popular and critical recognitions are shared by few other country music singers.

In 1990 Alan Jackson became a force on the country music scene and has remained so since.  He received his first number one hit; I’d love you all over again, off his first album, Here in the real worldThe album also carried with it three other top five country hits.

Most momentous in the career of Alan Jackson was his hit song, Where were you when the world stopped turning.  It was his response to the horrific tragedy of the bombing upon the Twin Towers in New York City.  The song discusses the emotions invoked in all of us from this horrific event.  The song brought the country singer into the mainstream spotlight for a short time in which the mourning of the catastrophe was shared by all of America.

Alan Jackson’s collection of music is part of the soundtrack of a generation of country fans over the previous 25 years.  Songs such as Here in the real world and Someday tug at our hearts while songs such as Don’t rock the jukebox and Gone Country help us to enjoy the magic of life.  In recent years Alan Jackson has strayed away from country, releasing two gospel albums with little commercial success.  However, his career, left standing as it is, marks him as one of the all-time greats in genre of country music.

These are some of my favorite songs by Alan Jackson.  The versatility of the singer is epitomized in this selection.  The singer’s powerful voice and sincerity in lyrical styling are matched with the impassioned lyrics and the musical compilations.  These factors, together, mark the greatness of Alan Jackson as a singer as well as his greatness as a songwriter.


This song, released from Alan Jackson debut album, celebrates joy felt from a life of performing, with dreams of someday achieving fame.  The song is inspiring, whatever your dreams in life might be.

With the wind through his hair, he drove an old car through an old dirt road.   They cleaned up that old boat and enjoyed the exuberance of a moment of freedom on a lake.  This is another of Alan Jackson’s songs which creates a feeling of vitality for its listeners.

Much of country music discusses the hardships and broken-heartedness that oftentimes comes with life.  This song emphatically portrays such an emotion with a descriptive extended metaphor about the trials of life that, in the movies turn out for the best, but in life, do not always.

Being young and enjoying a free existence only happens once in a lifetime.  This song celebrates such love for life in this upbeat song.  The singer, shares such coming of age with a creative flare that stays true to country.

Life is always a party for some people, especially Jimmy Buffet.  This song, in which Alan Jackson shares the vocals with Jimmy Buffet, is a light-hearted song about enjoying trivial aspects of life.

I hope you have enjoyed this "Country Music Artist of the Month ... Alan Jackson."  Keep an eye open for future country music features.

Thank you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Smile Returning to his Face

  • ·         Inspired by the song “One of these days” by Tim McGraw

Lynden awoke this morning.  While brewing his coffee, which would take only about five minutes; he was quick to light up a cigarette to commemorate a new day which lacked hope.  The impending stormy weather that greeted him highlighted the foreboding nature of a new day.

His life was now a trial which passed his capacity to endure.  Is familiar responsibilities drained all his energy and defined the nothingness that he now knew.

Bitterly, he took a sip from his steaming hot cup of coffee and took a drag off his cigarette. 

Horrendously coughing, he sensed the chillness in the air that surrounded him. 

He took another sip of his coffee and another hit off of his cigarette. 

He looked outside and noticed the impending storm was drawing nearer. 

His family awoke.  He and his wife had been married for ten years now.  Nothing was wrong with the relationship; it was not the cause of his angst.  Emily was beautiful and he loved her; however, his life remained empty.  He had a young son, Sean, who was just seven years old.  Similarly, he loved his son.  However, his joy of life had long disappeared.

His family awoke.    He had his morning routine and they had theirs.  They managed to share breakfast together every morning.  Emily didn’t work and his young son, Sean, was an excellent young student at his elementary school. 

While Lynden was shaving and showering, Emily made breakfast.

Sitting down for breakfast, Emily greeted Lynden for a new morning with a smile upon her face.

“Looks like rain,” Emily said in a blissful manner; the rain brought to her invigoration with the innocence of a child.

Their son sat eating his eggs, bacon, and toast.  The two adults partook in their own conversation.

“Things at the factory have been tough lately,” he shared with Emily.  “We are expecting layoffs again.”

Lynden had been working at the factory for ten years and was not at risk of losing his job.  A member of the union, he was sure of that point.

“It said on the news last night that we can expect a raise in taxes again.  I don’t know how that’s going to turn around the recession.”

Watching CNN grew tiring, with news which always seemed to mirror the trials in his own life.

As the two adults discussed the routines of their lives and current events, their young son stared blissfully at the morning cartoons which were visible from the kitchen.

Emily’s day was set.  After breakfast, she would take Sean to school.  She, for the past two years, had been studying to receive her degree in human relations at the local university.  The idol time she had available taking care of household responsibilities, left much time to follow her education.

Emily was unaware of Lynden’s depression and her life was filled with unabashed joy and bliss.  She loved her husband and she loved her son.  She had nothing in life that would interfere with her contentment.


Traffic was slow.  No rain yet, the sun was beginning to part the clouds.   The slippery road coupled with the sun in his eyes made for difficult driving.  Hardened heart, he lit a cigarette and took another sip from his coffee.

The work-day was similarly uneventful.  It was a union job and it paid well.  However, it was agonizing work that left him feeling sore and very tired at the end of every day.

Assembling bicycles from their component pieces, the monotony uneventfully created an atmosphere of servitude.  Although he had been working there for some time, he had no close friends.  The familiar faces seemed distant. 

There must be a route to happiness, he just couldn’t find it.  He was left amiss of emotions.  When he was young, he had enjoyed the typical frivolities of youth.  He had many friends and all he needed for a complete life.  He had fallen passionately in love with his wife and had been married since he was twenty-five.  But now, all joy had disappeared.

He must find a way to reignite the spark in his heart.  Consciously one morning, awaking early, tired as he was, he found a way to put a smile on his face. 

“Take hold of the reins,” someone had once told him, “and point your life in the direction you want it to go.”

It seemed like an unlikely scenerio, but with this thought in mind, he began to do just that.

He awoke in the morning.  Consciously attempting to regain his vitality, he gazed upon the morning sun.  He, typically, lit a cigarette and poured himself a cup of coffee; however, it was not to in angst, but in celebration of what God may have in store for him. 

After a couple of weeks, the ride to work, although slow and filled with heavy traffic, did not seem like a trial.  He simply smiled and listened to the radio as he realized the beauty of all that was around him.

He was able to consciously change his outlook on life.  As surely as he awoke to misery every morning six months ago, he now awoke to joy.

It was spring and his son had a Little League Baseball game today.  The mundane routine of watching his son play ball out of parental responsibility now brought with it the joy of the love a father can feel for his son.  He sat in the stands.  No more cigarettes or coffee, he enjoyed a soda and a hot dog.

His son stood up to bat.

“Strike one” the umpire said as Sean swung and missed.

Frantically cheering for Sean in the stands behind home plate, the joy for life that Lynden had known in the past returned to him. 

The pitcher threw the ball cleanly over the plate.  Sean swung the bat and the ball went flying over the third basemen’s head.  It was a crisp line drive and all the parents watching their children play Little League cheered.

Lynden’s had rediscovered the miracle of life and with it all that it has to offer.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Inconspicuously Worn Glove

An Inconspicuously Worn Glove

The gathering in Grandpa Michael’s house was masked as one of remembrance.  His family despised the old man and his death was marked with unpronounced celebration.  To add upon the occasion of Michael’s death, the cabinet, which held a large portion of his wealth in the form of rare gold coins, had been robbed the night before.  No culprit could be found.

Grandpa Michael had an industrious nature that brought him great success in life.  He had studied diligently in high school and had received a scholarship to Harvard.  It was not theirs to take, yet his family regarded his wealth as their own.

When Grandpa Michael was in his early thirties he married.  His son came a year after and his daughter followed two years later.

Grandpa Michael’s two brothers did not bother going to college and also held him in disdain for his success.  The jealousy among all his family members evolved into hatred as their own slothfulness became second nature. 

Grandpa Michael shared his wealth graciously with his family.  He offered them work, yet they all refused.  His family spent money lavishly from Grandpa’s Michael’s income only to demand more.

Grandpa Michael had extended work for his younger brother, Jamison; it would be enough to support a very comfortable living.  At this young age, Michael was eager to share his success with his family.  He offered Jamison a free-ride to college.  Michael stated to Jamison one day, “I can send you to any college around the country that you may like.  I want you to come work for me after you graduate.” 

As generous as Grandpa Michael was with this proposal, Jamison, like the rest of the family, chose not to work and to, instead, live off the money open-handedly shared by Michael.

As the years passed and Grandpa Michael’s wealth grew the disdain and jealousy his family felt for Michael turned to hatred.  They all felt that they were entitled to Michael’s wealth and at the same time hated his industrious nature.

Sitting in his business office one week after his death, Grandpa Michael’s family’s greed for his wealth was to meet its consummation.   

The night before the reading of Grandpa Michael’s will, the cabinet in which he stored much of wealth had been robbed. His family irritably accepted this development knowing that the riches betrothed upon them from Grandpa Michael’s death would still be extravagant.

The mystery of the theft remained unsolved, yet they all wished it had been them who had committed the burglary.  They sat in his office; the entirety of Grandpa Michael’s family along with his wife.  She also held him in contempt, but always had intended to spend every last cent of the old man’s fortune.  It was only she who knew the extent of the fortune contained in the collection of gold coins.

The will was to be read.  Grandpa’s Michael’s attorney opened the sealed envelope.

The glass of the cabinet was broken and a few drops of blood lay on the floor.  As the will was being read, his family sat staring at the drops of blood on the floor next to the cabinet.   

The attorney began reading his will.

It began, “I leave to my brother Tom - nothing, to my brother, Jamison - nothing, to my son and daughter -

nothing, to my grandchild - nothing.  Finally, I will bequeath the rest of my wealth to predetermined charities of my choice.  My wife, Kathryn, will also receive - nothing.”

His family walked away from the room.  The broken cabinet with the stolen coins had not been left unnoticed and every last one wished they had been the one with the initiative to steal them.  Their hatred for Grandpa Michael, who they always referred to as, “that greedy old man,” grew with their exclusion from the will.  Their longing for the old man’s wealth was thought to be realized with the celebration of his death.

Kathryn, his young wife of recent years, walked away from the office concealing a smile.  She wore an inconspicuously fashioned glove on her right hand covering up the scrapes and cuts from the robbery the night before.

“What’s next,” Kathryn thought to herself.  “The Bahamas? No, The Cayman Islands.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Top 10 Country Songs ... Spiritual"

 “Top 10 Country Songs … Spiritual”

Country music traverses through many themes.  From honky-tonk drinking songs to heartfelt love songs, it is
often cited as the soundtrack to the lives’ of its listeners.  However, from time to time, a country music act will release a song which crosses into the genre of spirituality.  Not similar to gospel music or Christian music, many of these songs still reaffirm our beliefs in God.

The message in these songs is often about Jesus, sometimes about God, and sometimes about re-asserting our faith in mankind.  The poignant lyrics in many of these songs coupled with the brilliance of country songwriters and singers, warm our hearts and our souls.

I hope you enjoy this compilation of country songs and I hope that they can serve as a new path to finding faith and inner-piece.    Although there are many songs I have not listed, these serve as a sample of the best in the niche that can be found.  I hope these songs leave you with love, warmth, and inspiration in your hearts.

Number 10:    Go rest high on that mountain by Vince Gill
                          Vince Gill Official Fan Page Link
                          Go rest high on that mountain video link                                          

This song by Vince Gill brings hope and love to its listeners.  This song celebrates the journey to Heaven
after a difficult life and it won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance as well as the 1995 Grammy for the Best Country Song.  Vince Gill’s seamless voice and lyrical styling luminously
highlight the strong sentiment in this song.  This song is spiritually focused and serves equally as a religious hymn and a country music ballad.

Number 9:      Jesus take the wheel by Carry Underwood
                         Carry Underwood Official Fan Page Link
                         Jesus take the wheelvideo link

Carry Underwood arrived on the country music scene via the hit television show American Idol.   She has since received many awards honoring her talent and album sales marking her as a cross-over country act of distinction.  This song was a release from her first album and reached number one on the country music charts.  It also won the Academy of Country Music single record of the year in 2006.  The song is an especially spiritual and emotional song affirming faith in Jesus when all else is lost. 

Number 8:      My list by Toby Keith
                         Toby Keith OfficialFan Page Link
                         My list video link

This song which was released in the year 2002 is one of many number one songs by Toby Keith.  In his career, which is still driving strong, it marks a hiatus from the many rowdy cowboy songs that have made him
a success.  The song is about a father and a husband who realizes that life’s duties must be given latitude for his responsibilities to his family.  The message is delivered with a slow-paced, traditional country style which demonstrates the love that can be found and conveyed in family life.

Number 7:     Love without end, amen by George Strait
                         George Strait OfficialFan Page Link
                         Love without end, amen video link

This song is one of the most widely known country songs dealing with spirituality.  The lyrics of the song and the strong singing voice of George Strait create images of a loving God.  The song’s states that with God’s love in our hearts, we will all make it into Heaven.  It was released in 1990 off of his Livin’ it Up CD and spent five weeks on top of the country music charts. 

Number 6:       Silver and gold by Dolly Parton
                          Dolly Parton OfficialFan Page Link
                          Silver and gold video link

Her career includes the all-time classic hit, I will always love you.  In the 1970s and 1980s she was a force on country music radio as well as a pop icon.  The greatest extent of her success came as a cross-over artist with hits such as 9 to 5 and Islands in the stream.  In the 1990s she made her way back to more traditional, bluegrass country.  The song, Silver and gold, remains true to this design.  As a song of inspiration and of God’s love, it states that greater gifts remain for us in Heaven.

Number 5:       Mama don’t forget to pray for me by Diamond Rio
                          Diamond Rio OfficialFanpage Link
                          Mama don’t forget topray for me video link

The group, Diamond Rio, has been on the country music scene for over two decades.  Their greatest success was achieved in the early 1990s where they received five Academy of Country Music Awards for Top Vocal Group.  The group holds fast to their own style of traditional country with a blue-grass edge that has brought them much popularity among its fans.  This song, Mama, don’t forget to pray for me, with its stellar vocals and inspirational message of familiar love, is one of the group’s best.

Number 4:        Three wooden crosses by Randy Travis
                           Randy TravisOfficial Fanpage Link
                           Three wooden crosses video link

This song, off of Randy Travis’s 2002 release Rise and Shine, reached number one on the charts and was named Song of the Year in 2003 by the Country Music Association.  The unapologetic religious message in the song also won Randy Travis a Dove Award in 2004 from the Gospel Music Association.  The story told by the song is one of redemption and the lyrics illuminate the love behind such redemption. 

Number 3:        Testify to love by Wynonna
                           Wynonna Official Fanpage Link
                           Testify to lovevideo link

This song by Wynonna Judd was featured in an episode of the television show, Touched by an Angel in which she starred.  Although it was never released as a single, it represents some of her best work.  The song passionately invokes feelings of love; not only for God, not only for mankind, but also a love for all things on God’s Earth.  With profound lyrics, this lesson is reiterated throughout the song with an upbeat, joyous tone and the strong vocalization which is typified by this singer.

 Number 2:       The dance by Garth Brooks
                           Garth BrooksOfficial Fanpage Link
                          The Dance video link

Garth Brooks legendary career has marked him as one of the top selling musical artists of all-time, second only to The Beatles.    This song, The dance, is one of the quintessential favorites of his most loyal fans.  The song’s traditional meaning is a story of the memory of a love long lost.  However, rather than following this theme, the singer chose to choose a theme of love-lost in many other contexts.  The meaning that is preferred is that we might want to throw away the best moments in our lives if we had known the pain that was to follow. 

Number 1:        Live like you were dying by Tim McGraw
                          Tim McGraw Official Fanpage Link

Tim McGraw arrived strong onto the country music scene in 1994.  With his second album, Not a Moment Too Soon, the song, Don’t take the girl, drove him to stardom.  In his illustrious career, he has sold more than 40 million albums with his latest releases still reaching success on country music radio today.

Tim McGraw has reached number one on the country music charts with twenty-three different songs.  His multitude of hit songs are far too many to mention, however, songs such as I like it, I love it, Just to make you smile, and Real good man are some of his best.  To mark the on-going strength of this artist, he recently had a huge hit on the country music charts with One of those nights and the song which he duets with Taylor Swift, Highway don’t care, is currently rising the charts quickly.  

The song that tops this list remains one of the most inspirational, life-affirming songs that can be found in any genre or style of music.  Live like you were dying, reached number one on the country charts for seven weeks. Moreover, it won nearly every major award in the year 2004 for best country song. This song celebrates how precious life becomes with the revelation that it is transitory.  The song’s lyrics represent a man who discovers the joyous journey to becoming a better man.

I hope you enjoyed this “Top 10 Country Songs … Spiritual” list.  Take a look at these songs once in a while.  If you are depressed, they may bring to you hope.  If you would simply like to listen to something that will lift your spirits, sit down in front of your computer and let the music bring you to a better place.

You are most welcome to leave comments and to share this list with friends.  Keep an eye open for new “Top 10 Country Music Songs …” in the future.

Thank you.