2016-07-11 / Columns

IT’S JUST ME

A country music phase
KLONIE JORDAN — Executive Editor


Photo taken: Aunt Sue’s Country Corner, Pickens, S.C. Photo taken: Aunt Sue’s Country Corner, Pickens, S.C. For me, country music is a matter of phases.

I get into it for a while and then something happens to cause me to drift away from it for a while, and then I seem to navigate right back to it.

I got to thinking about the country music thing the other day when I began to reminisce about my motorcycle riding days.

This is about a little trip I took back in 2003 and how I went from my county music off-again to my country music on-again stage.

I was en route to Dothan, Ala., to see a friend of mine. We were going to rent a couple of Harleys and ride into Florida.

It was during this trek to Alabama that I became reunited with country music, thanks to one Craig Morgan.

From Phenix City to Dothan is about 100 miles of mostly 4- lane highway. It might be a bit busier now, but back then it was pretty desolate. I would occasionally pick up my cell phone and look at the “signal strength” indicator.

No bars.

Nothing.

No chance to communicate with the outside world. If aliens had kidnapped me at that point, there would have been no way I could have tried to summon help. It was like driving on the moon.

Did I mention it was desolate?

Having no OnStar and no Sirius radio, my choices for entertainment were relegated to either CDs (you young ‘uns won’t know what that is; ask your dad or grandpa) or whatever FM signal might have been sporadically wafting across the seemingly lifeless landscape.

So there I was, navigating U.S. Hwy. 431 expecting to look in my rear-view mirror and at any moment see the ghost of a dead hitchhiker sitting in the back seat.

It was quiet.

Eerily quiet.

Too quiet.

So I hit the “scan” button on the FM radio and it went through all the numbers on the dial with a couple of stations popping up briefly. Both were country. No ’80s music (my genre of preference at that time) to be found.

I don’t know that much about things automotive, but what I do know is that on this particular journey if I was going to listen to any music between Phenix City and south Alabama, it was going to be of the country variety.

Which is fine with me. I hadn’t had the opportunity to become all that familiar with country stars in quite some time so I figured this would be a great opportunity to get back in the country music saddle, so to speak.

A station came in pretty strong, at least for a few minutes, and I recognized a couple of the singers. Okay, this was pretty good. The more it played, the more I was getting into it. Eventually I was really enjoying it.

So I’m driving into Eufaula (which I have since found out is the “Bass Capital of the World”) and this singer comes on telling about how he found this old homeless man asleep behind some garbage cans in the freezing cold. So the singer, afraid the homeless man might be dead, wakes up the homeless man, who says he wishes the singer had left him alone. The homeless man proceeds to tell the singer that he was dreaming that he was “Almost Home.”

“I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree,

I was running from some honeybees.

Drip-drying in the summer breeze,

After jumping into Calico Creek.

I was walking down an old dirt road,

Past a field of hay that had just been mowed.

Man, I wish you’d just left me alone,

’Cause I was almost home.”

Y’all probably recognize those lyrics. They’re pretty well known now. But back then, that song was new.

Well, I couldn’t take it. It was just too sad. It ripped my heart up right there behind the steering wheel of that old Ford Taurus at about the third red light in Eufaula. I was sitting there bawling my eyes out, trying to see through the tears as they ran down my face. I glanced around and noticed this woman in a luxury sedan next to me at the traffic light, looking at me like I was some kind of mental patient. I’ll bet she wondered, “What in the world is that little redneck crying about?” She stuck her nose up in the air and drove off.

Down the road a mile or two I got a hankering’ for some Vienna sausages. Men — real men anyway — consider them a delicacy. So I stopped at this little country store and got me a can of Viennas, a diet Coke and a paper cup. I opened the Viennas and drained the juice off and dumped the contents into the paper cup because that makes them more easily accessible. I got back on the road and was about two Vienna sausages into that cup when I came to another red light. I coasted to a stop and noticed a vehicle pull up alongside me on the left. I looked over and it was that same woman who had seen me bawling earlier. She gave me a “you are insane look” and stuck her nose up again. So, being the polite Southern gentleman I am, I raised my Vienna can in a salute to her, sort of like the way you raise your champagne glass when you make a toast.

She drove off without acknowledging my polite salutation.

Oh well.

Wonder when they’re going to write a song about Vienna sausages?

Now that would be some real country music.

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