Last night was a very different kind of evening for me.
If you know me well, you know I’ve never been a fan of country music. In fact, I have to admit that I’m usually one of those who laughs heartily at those “she stole muh tractor an’ muh dawg died” country music jokes. But because a dear friend wanted to go see Randy Travis, I decided to take her.
Okay, you guessed it. I throughly enjoyed myself. The company was delightful, of course, but so was the music. The concert itself was outstanding, from both technical and musicianship perspectives, but I also found myself connecting to the music as I never thought I would. “Good country music” is no longer the oxymoron I used to joke about.
Randy Travis is very much a fixture in the country music scene, having been touring for 25 years. There’s good reason for his success: his songs connect with people and their lives in a unique and touching way. He has an incredibly talented band, most of whom have toured with him for almost twenty years. I had heard little of his songs until shortly before the concert, when I loaded a number of them up into my iPod.
I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the genre. I can definitely – and proudly – say that my views on country music have changed – as have my views on so many other things. That’s not to say that I like all country music – as in any genre, there is awful stuff out there and stuff I just plain still don’t like. But wait – there’s more! Let me continue…
I like, for example, singing karaoke in a little redneck bar in small-town Oregon. Randy Travis finished at 9:30, so there was lots of time to go to my friend’s favourite Friday night spot – Romans, in tiny little Dayton, Oregon.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself in such a place a year ago – yet there we were, belting out Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, right in there on the song list with the purloined agricultural equipment and deceased pets, drinking cheap beer and having a marvellous time singing along to – or cringing at – the other performances.
Of course, this is not just about learning to like country music and singing karaoke and growing friendships. It’s about boundaries that have been in my life for many, many years finally coming down. It’s about developing an openness to all kinds of new things in my life. What an incredible gift I have been given – opening eyes, ears, voice – and heart!
Thank you, my dear friend. You know who you are.