This list is far from all encompassing, but here’s the beginnings of a playlist to my life:
"Springsteen" by Eric Church
"Funny how a melody sounds like a memory" and for me that will always be when Eric Church played "Record Year" at the Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain, New York in 2018. I had been a major fan for quite a few years but had not had the means to go see one of his legendary live shows, until he was finally playing in my neck of the woods. I was beyond excited, waiting for the day for an entire year, as it was announced at the previous year's festival. I had my boots on to hold one up in the air when he sang "These Boots." I had my aviators and merch, and I was prepared with the sleeve to Volume 1 of his 61 Days in Church box set of live recordings from his record-setting and record-breaking Holdin' My Own Tour which I had been devastated to miss just the year prior. My sister and I were set with our cameras to record the show and capture the moments to enjoy forever. I made a nice fleeting connection with a lady across the aisle who had a rare record store day 33 cover she was hoping to get signed. I cried when The Chief himself first took the stage and opened the show singing one of my favorites of his, "Mr. Misunderstood." After standing in the hot sun for around 8 hours - no bathroom breaks, no food, nothing but us, some water and all the anticipation in the world - the moment arrived when he departed the stage to scan the crowd for vinyl held up in the air to sign during "Record Year." That lady I'd bonded with briefly got hers signed (I recognized her victory) and then he made his way to our side of the stage. One row back from the front, he saw me and for a moment we were both holding that vinyl cover as I passed it up to him, as he’d requested. He didn't see my sign I had written and inserted in the cover, but that's okay. He flipped it over to study both sides and said, "What we got?! 61 Days?" as he raised his brows and I nodded yes. The look in his eyes when he looked back at mine was one of appreciation: he knew this meant I was a diehard member of The Church Choir, his fan club, and he was thankful. He gave it a once over a final time. He signed my vinyl cover and handed it back to me, again, briefly connected by that cardboard sleeve. Then he walked away again, but I could see the sparkle in his eyes in that moment of connection and it will always be mine. My "Springsteen" moment. (You can watch it here and we recorded it too - thanks sis!)
"Heart of the Night" by Eric Church
Brings my mind back on the road and to the freedom of a highway. Over the pandemic years, my sister and I traveled more than we ever have before, going to concerts and other events in quite a few states. Eric Church's Heart, &, and Soul albums now are linked in my mind with long road trips and traveling because we listened to them when we journeyed to his shows on The Gather Again Tour. There's something special about the lyrics to "Heart of the Night" in particular though that make it a standout.
"Anxiety" by Jason Isbell
This song, as is implied by the title, evokes strong feelings of unease that are all too relatable for me. Both the lyrics and music replicate an anxious state. This is the space I lived in for far too many years of my life, and the space in which I still find myself from time to time, and this song makes me feel seen and understood.
"Bonfire at Tina's" by Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, and Pillbox Patti
This song is the soundtrack to my finally making the pilgrimage to music city: Nashville, Tennessee: a trek I've been dreaming of for many years. The show that was the final tipping point was Ashley McBryde Presents Lindeville: Live at The Ryman - a two-night-only event that included some of my favorite artists/writers. This is one of the songs on the album, a one-of-a-kind project that I highly recommend checking out, and one that captured the rollercoaster ride and joy in which the journey resulted. It was a one time show that I was not going to miss and I am still beaming with pride at my initiative to finally take the reins and bring my dreams to fruition. There were many times in the past when I wanted to take action, but I never made it happen until earlier this year. This was the beginning of something new for me and I am excited to see where it takes me next.
To be continued….