Song of the Week – “Why Georgia” (2001)

In 2003 my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Providentially, her doctor discovered the cancer very early on and so my wife had her thyroid removed and has been cancer-free ever since. Thank God for attentive primary-care physicians, skilled surgeons, and modern medicine.

A few months after the surgery I decided to take my wife to Kansas City for a weekend away. Just the two of us alone as we left our two girls with the grandparents. It was a sort of a post-cancer surgery celebration of the fact that my wife was alive, recovering, and had been given an excellent prognosis going forward.

As is our custom on nearly all trips to Kansas City, we spent a fair amount of time with my brother (who lives in KC). While driving around one night he asked, “Hey, have you guys ever heard John Mayer’s music?” At the time we had not and so my brother proceeded to play for us Mayer’s latest (at the time) album Room for Squares. Immediately my wife and I became fans and the song “Why Georgia” shot to the top of my list of all-time great driving songs.

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Song of the Week – “Late for the Sky” (1974)

It was almost like discovering a writer I’d never read–except we discover writers we’ve never read all the time, and only rarely, as adults, do we stumble across major pop artists with a decent back catalog: it is usually prejudice rather than ignorance that has prevented us from making their acquaintance, and prejudice is harder to overcome (indeed, much more fun to maintain). And yes, of course it was prejudice that had stopped me from listening to Jackson Browne. He wasn’t a punk. He had a funny pudding-bowl haircut that wasn’t very rock ‘n’ roll. He wrote “Take It Easy” at a time when I didn’t want to take it easy. And though I hadn’t heard any of the songs, I knew they were wimpy, navel gazing, sensitive–American in all the worst ways and none of the best.[1]

In so many ways I can identify completely with the above sentiments of writer Nick Hornby about Jackson Browne. In fact, replace the phrase “He wasn’t a punk” with “He wasn’t a heavy metal shred guitar god” and the shoe pretty much fit like a glove (or something like that). In the early 80s I was a young teenage know-it-all armed with my first electric guitar and was determined to become the next VanHalenVaiYngwie. Songs featuring Dungeon & Dragon lyrics and harmonic minor scales were in. Songs by world-weary “old dudes” about heartache were anything but in.

Although I have been happily married to the same wife for nearly 20 years, I’ve lived long enough to know marital sorrow many times over. I have watched many folks make a good start at marriage, only to wake up a few years later and realize that happily ever after is, for a myriad of reasons, simply beyond their reach. There but for the grace of God go I.

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