Santa came by yesterday. AKA my Father in law. And he makes a damn good Santa at that. He and my mother in law have the most giving hearts. They have always done their best to support us on this journey called life, unconditionally.
In a socially distanced sort of way, He left Christmas gifts for the wife and I.
This morning bright and early we opened our gifts to see what Santa had brought.
I was surprised by the plain white album cover and the simple type of the title page.
Chris Stapleton Starting Over.
I am currently listening to the first of the double record enclosed. I have heard most of the content before and even wrote about it not long ago in my attempt at some review. The music sounds so much better this Christmas morning playing on vinyl and coming through the speakers in my living room!
It’s a mean old world out there and the world has gotten sick. These songs are just what I am going through and what the rest of the world is going through to. I think that idea gives me some hope as I realize that I am not alone in any of this.
Well, if I was recording an album amidst a pandemic, I would most likely do it the same way. No frothy emotional appeal by some staged up photo shoot on the cover of the album. Isn’t It supposed to be about the music anyway?
Stapleton gives encouragement as I open the album flap. Inside he has written:
“In my life when I’ve needed strength, love, peace, joy, friendship, focus, courage, understanding, hope, or healing I’ve found these things in music. As you listen, I pray you find some of these things here. May we all look to the best of who we’ve been & the promise of who we can be. Here’s to starting over.”
So far, my wife has decided that “When I’m With You” is her favorite from the album. I can sure relate to the lyrics of the song. The lyrics tell a story of gratitude throughout this storm we call life. I am glad I have someone like her by my side. She is the best thing that has happened to me. Her strong temperament teaches me to be stronger. When I am with her, I have the will to do better than I have ever done. I work harder and try my best at doing the best I can do. When you do something do it with excellence is something that she has instilled in me.
Merry Christmas to all. This year has been different, I know that I have even complained recently how it didn’t feel like Christmas. But reflection this morning I am starting to re- think that statement. What is Christmas supposed to feel like anyway? Remembering the reason for the season. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Without the birth, there would have never been the death that day at Calvary. For God gave his son to die for me and my sin. Because of him I am free and have eternal life. I pray that whoever needs to hear it hears Jesus in their hearts and minds today. Heaven’s just a prayer away.
Perhaps 2020 and the Pandemic is the way that God is showing us the wrong from right. Did God not give us a rainbow after the flood? Just because there isn’t that pot of gold at the end of it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth it.
The Mercury Nashville label released the album Starting Over last Friday. (November 13,2020)
Starting Over is Chris Stapleton’s fourth studio album. The album features the title song “Starting Over” which released as a single earlier this year.
Out of the 14 songs on the album, Stapleton wrote or co-wrote 11 of them.
The album features two songs originally done by Guy Clark. “Old Friends,” and “Worry B Gone.”
When Guy originally recorded the Old Friends album in 1988, he enlisted Roseanne Cash, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and Rodney Crowell. Stapleton considers Guy one of his own personal heroes. He had some pretty big shoes to fill with this song.
Chris Stapleton met the challenge with a first class performance of the old song. It is my opinion, that Stapleton is among the last country musicians in Nashville that still sounds a little bit “country.”
“Old Friends, they Shine Like Diamonds Old friends, you can always call Old friends, Lord, you can’t buy ‘em You know it’s old friends, after all”
“Worry B Gone,” was originally released by Guy Clark in 2006. It was on his Workbench Songs album.
The songs lyrics are perfectly fitting for the world we are living in today. A world where the media is trying to control the way we think. This country has been in division because of different political views. The rioting and the uncertainty of the market has been a huge stress factor on me. I have had fears. Some are real and some are probably irrational. I am not sure at times to believe the media, the conspiracists, or my own intuitions.
2020 has been a rough year on all of us. This has been a year that none of us will ever forget. The year of the pandemic. This political unrest and negativity has started to take it’s toll. The racism on both sides has been intense. What good is it serving for any of us to tear each other down?
“Everywhere I look Trouble is all I see I can’t listen to the radio And I hate TV Trouble with the air Trouble with the water People ain’t treatin’ one another like they oughta.”
The final song of the album that was not written nor co-written by Chris Stapleton is a fantastic cover of the John Fogerty song “Joy of My Life.”
“Some may have their riches Some may have their worldly fame Long as I have you I’ll treasure each and every day.”
It is time for us all to start “Starting Over.” We all need to pull together to begin re-building. We can start by building each other up. Enough is Enough. I am out with the negativity and in with positivity. We all need some holiday cheer. I am just living my life one day at a time today.
Thankfully, my music has been my escape. I am appreciative of singer-songwriters like Chris Stapleton who are willing to tell their truths through song.
Chris Stapleton’s official website describes the albums fourteen tracks as an examination of life’s simplest joys and most serious struggles.
These songs all tell a story. A story that we all need to relate to.
“Give me just one more puff Of that worry b gone, I’m planning on feelin’ much better Before too long”
I’m planning on feelin’ much better before too long.
Parker McCollum’s, Hollywood Gold has become the highest-selling debut EP of 2020, according to ABC NEWS radio.
Hollywood Gold is the newest album from this rising star. It features his debut single “Pretty Heart.”
Currently “Pretty Heart” is in the top 10 on the Billboard’s Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts. The song was written by Parker McCollum and Randy Montana.
This album takes it’s name from a horse that Parker McCollum’s Grandfather once owned. Parker’s Grandmother told him the story more than once in his childhood.
Hollywood Gold was an Australian Racehorse. It was stolen not long after his Grandfather had purchased the horse. They eventually found the horse, but it took months for him to find.
“My Grandad would go out looking for this horse for months and months at a time, I kept hearing Hollywood Gold and I said Man, What a great name for the album.”
McCollum co-wrote five of the six songs on the album. “Like A Cowboy,” was the one song that McCollum didn’t have his pen in. It was written by Chris Stapleton and Al Anderson.
The 6 songs on Hollywood Gold bring out McCollum’s Texas roots. Parker was born in Conroe, Tx near Houston. He grew up listening to classic Texas musicians like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle. Parker worked alongside his Grandfather on the family ranch.
The Houston native musician that some call the Limestone Kid, is now based in Austin. The music Capitol of the World. This up and coming singer songwriter has definitely struck Gold on this new album. The 6 songs on the album all tell the stories of Texas from a Texan’s perspective.
On March fourth of this year, I married my soul mate in Lincoln County, New Mexico. We like to say we got married March forth as it was on that day that we marched forth to new beginnings. Prior to this journey, which was approximately a 4 hour car ride from our home, I created a playlist. On my Itunes account it lives. The playlist simply called “Wedding”. This playlist consists of 15 songs and lasts 55 minutes.
Every time that I get to hear one of these songs it reminds me of her, my best friend, the love of my life, my UnNi.
#1- Blessings by Florida Georgia Line.
“ First time I met you, knew I never could forget you, girl you always saw the blue skies past the rain clouds in my eyes.“
The very first line in the song says so much. We first met at a conference I attended for Alcoholics Anonymous in the Spring of 2010. I had spent some time away as a ward of the State of Texas and had only been out of a halfway house for a month.
I was learning to live sober. UnNi was going to school to become a substance abuse counselor. She worked in a treatment center. She was so beautiful. I had feelings for her from the very first time I saw her.
#2- Millionaire by Chris Stapleton.
“They say love is more precious thangold Can’t be bought and it can’t be sold.”
I used to think that I was measured by the possessions that I had. Money and Power were status symbols that I thought would either make or break me. UnNi showed me that love was the “ultimate gift”. I know that she loves me and I love her. I would lay down my life for her. I will do anything in my power to give her everything I have. She also showed me how to reconnect with my Higher Power, my faith and find the never ending love of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus Christ the Son of Man.
#3- Prayed For You by Matt Stell. UnNi and I first saw this guy at a concert we attended with our friends Matthew and Sondra. Matt Stell was the opening act for Clay Walker. This song really touched me and UnNi too.
“Cause every single day, before Iknew your name I couldn’t seeyour face, but I prayedfor you.”
These lyrics really touched me deep down. I had been in other relationships. I had been married before. I thought I had been in love once or twice, but I had never considered praying for what God wanted for me.
Up to this point I had lived most all of my life on impulse. It was a roller coaster of highs and lows, only considering what was good for me and what made me happy for the moment.
I had met UnNi years before we ever dated. We hung out some and talked. I considered her a good friend. She had been there for me through some rough patches in my life. She had seen me go through some things as I had also seen her life change in many ways.
I was going through a pretty rough patch. I was ending another relationship, had lost control of my children and was only seconds away from throwing in the towel on my sobriety. When one day I sat down to truly seek God for some sort of direction.
It was conference time again and I knew that every time I would make the trek to Ft Davis I would see her face. I hoped this time it would be the same. So I messaged her on Facebook and she said she would go. We made plans to hang out.
We reconnected our friendship and soon began to date. I know God put her in my life. I know she was my answered prayer. I am forever grateful that UnNi is in my life. I still can’t believe that she’s my wife!
#4- Your Smile Takes MyBreath Away– by Ryan Kirkland. Just before we planned to marry, My second cousin Ryan Kirkland recorded his first song. The song is available on Itunes and Amazon.
“You can bringme to myknees, with just one wink, your smile takes my breath away.”
I feel that way every time I look at my UnNi. She takes my breath away every single day. I feel like the luckiest guy on earth just being able to wear her wedding band on my finger.
I heard from an old timer in AA just the other day, that he would never leave his “Honey Bunny”. Not only had he made a commitment to her that day in that church, He had a made a commitment to God.
I shall never forget that commitment I made that day in early March of 2020. The start of a new beginning and the start of a long and happy life with the person who God intended for me.
#5 Stealing Electricity by Tom Russell. This is the strangest love song you ever heard. UnNi thinks my music is strange.
This song starts out with a guy who dies while trying to steal electricity and how the voltage running through him made his heart go “d-da”.
“Hey baby, ain’t that just likeyou and me? Loveis like stealing electricity, Two hearts goD-da, d-da, d-da, da.”
Our hearts beat to the same music. We made our commitment. We became one. The bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 A cord of threestrands isnot easily broken.
The three strands represent UnNi and I. Our hearts only beat because God, The Third Strand gives us the “electricity”. He is our power and our light. He holds us together.
#6 Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.
“Slipping and sliding All along the waterfall with you My brown-eyed girl.”
My wife has these big brown eyes. I could look into them all day long. It’s in those big round eyes that I can see her thoughts. They sparkle when she’s happy. They fade when she’s angry. They are wet when she’s sad.
I hope I make her brown eyes sparkle more often than not. I love my brown eyed girl. She makes my heart smile. We have a lot of laughs together and we enjoy many of the same things. She is my rock. My brown eyed girl.
#7 In Spite of Ourselves by John Prine. UnNi and I both enjoy singing karaoke. One year for Christmas, we bought each other a karaoke machine. Valentines Day of 2017 we recorded ourselves singing this song, in the style of John Prine and Iris Dement. It will forever be our song.
“In spite of ourselves, We’llend upsittin’ on arainbow, Against all odds,Honey, we’re the big door prize.”
John Prine / Iris Dement
I often have to remember to look beyond the end of my nose. I can be selfish and self centered. That causes a lot of trouble in my relationship. This song reminds me of the prize and to play the tape to the end. I have to pause and think before I act or react.
UnNi has done more than she knows to teach me these things about myself and to show me to treat others in the way that I want to be treated. She has taught me to stand up for what I believe in. Yet, she also shows me how to do it tactfully and respectfully. Sometimes I still fall short on this concept, but I am certainly a better man than I was and I owe that all to her.
#8 Loving Her Was Easier by Kris Kristofferson. I have always believed this was one of the prettiest songs ever written.
Last October, UnNi and I got to see Kris Kristofferson live at the Wagner Noel. This was one of those concerts I got to scratch off of my bucket list.
I can’t pick a favorite line in this song. Every line is perfect poetry. Every line reminds me of her. She is perfect and hearing this perfect song with such a perfect partner is one of the highlights of my life.
“Talking of tomorrow and the money, love and time we had to spend.”
If I die tomorrow, this is one of those songs I would want played at my funeral. I hope UnNi knows how special she made each day of my life.
#9 Just Breathe by Willie and Lukas Nelson.
“Did I say that I needyou? Did I say that Iwant you? Ohif Ididn’tI’m a fool yousee, no one knows this more than me.”
Willie Nelson/ Lukas Nelson
This is a song that relaxes me even on the worst of days. UnNi and I have tried to sing it a few times. We can’t seem to hit those high notes. We discovered this song together. It means so much to us both.
We both have our own struggles and issues and we are both seeking solution rather than creating more drama and chaos. When we are together we are much stronger than when we are apart. When we remember to just breathe and not let the things we do not have control of overwhelm us, our life is better.
UnNi makes me a better man.
I hope that I bring that breath of fresh air into her life as well.
#10 Love Abides by Tom Russell and Iris Dement.
“Hey look how far we’ve come, do we knowwho weare?Stranded on a mountain top trying to catch a falling star.”
This is another song we do together in karaoke. This is another song that reminds me that we are stronger together. It reminds me of the perfect love that we have for each other. Remembering where I came from and the direction that I want my life to go.
UnNi is a planner.
I am a dreamer.
Most of the time when I have a dream, she plans on how to make that dream become a reality.
Like for example, this blog.
I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. She set forth a plan to make this dream become a reality. She set up this website and teaches me as she learns how to operate it.
Now, You as our reader, gets to experience this side of our life.
I hope you enjoy what you are reading, as much as we enjoy writing to you.
#11 Love me Anyway and #12 True Love both by Pink. These songs are pretty brutal but it’s an honest description of how our life can be.
“Even if I see your scars Even if Ibreak your heartIf we’re a million milesapart Do you thinkyou’d walk away?”
“Sometimes I hate every single stupid wordyou saySometimes I wanna slapyou in your whole face.”
We have had some big fights. Have gone through some pretty big stuff over the years. I choose to stay. She chooses to let me.
We get closer every day. We are learning to communicate and to express our feelings.
In my mind there is absolutely nothing that could keep me away from her. I feel feelings that I have never felt when I upset her. I can see my part today, and admit when I am wrong. She can do that too.
I have never had a love like this.
Once again as an old timer in AA often tells me, “ 9 out of 10 times she’s Honey Bunny, 1 out of 10 times she’s Huffy Bunny and when she is Huffy Bunny, there’s only one person in that situation that can shut the hell up, and that person is me.”
Learning our strengths and weaknesses and learning to put our differences aside has made a huge impact on my relationship.
Pause when agitated.
Sometimes one of us just has to walk away.
I am grateful that we can work through the rough times. We agree that divorce isn’t the option today.
When we are good, we are great.
That is the way it is most days.
#13 Gringo Honeymoon by Robert Earl Keen. Last Christmas mom gave us concert tickets to see Robert Earl Keen.
I personally have seen him play live more times than any other artist. This show was different. Besides being in the front row, I was there with UnNi, My Wife.
“We were so close I could see his tongue moving while he sang.”
That’s what she likes to say when I brag about how great the seats were.
She had never heard of REK until she met me. I have showed her a world of music that she still thinks is strange, but I think that it is growing on her.
The day that we walked out of that courthouse in Carrizozo I was the happiest I had ever been. We found a Museum where we stopped to take some pictures. I have a picture of her in her wedding dress, next to a big cactus. She was the sexiest woman I had ever seen. She still is today.
“ We were standin’ ona mountaintop Wherethe cactus flowersgrow, I waswishin’ that the world would stop.When you said we’d better go.”
Robert Earl Keen
Did I mention she was a planner?
#14 Leather and Lace Don by Stevie Nicks and DonHenley. For a guy who never liked female artists, after meeting UnNi I found a whole bunch I really love.
This song was one I fell in love with around the same time I really started falling for UnNi.
Her brother J and sister in law Heather do a great cover of this song with their band Cowboy Drive. Their video features shots from Ft Davis, one of our favorite places to be. The place we first met, the conference I will never forget.
UnNi likes a section of the mountainous terrain where the natural out cropping of rocks took shapes of almost human form. She calls these “the ancestors.”
I hope and pray that the ancestors will always protect her and guide our lives through happiness and harmony.
“I search for somethingI can’t see.”
The other night we were sitting in our hot tub. It was windy out and UnNi told me “I like the wind. It reminds me of God. Even though I can’t see Him, I Know He is there”
#15 What a difference you’ve made in my Life by Ronnie Milsap.
“What a difference you’ve made inmylife.”
UnNi, there’s nothing else I need to say about this song. It is pretty self Explanatory.
I was trying to wake myself this morning and going through my normal blah of scrolling through endless Facebook posts and came across a video on Facebook Watch.
Those who know, know that I am not a fan of the modern country on today’s radio. I caught a video this morning however, that I will endorse. “Starting Over” a new song by Chris Stapleton. The official video release was just this week, September 19, 2020.
This video directed by Becky Fluke gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to make music in RCA’s historical Studio A in Nashville.
The video features the song “Starting Over” another masterpiece written by Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson. The duo is previously known for songs like “Broken Halo” , and “Midnight Train to Memphis”.
The video also features Stapleton’s wife Morgane Stapleton on backup vocals. Morgane, a song writer herself, made her own space on Music Row writing songs like “Talk is Cheap” for Alan Jackson, “You Ain’t Right” for LeAnn Rimes, and Reba’s, “Ain’t Got Nothin’ On My Pain”.
Don’t go looking for the song anywhere soon. “Starting Over” isn’t set to release yet. Chris Stapleton tweeted that he is releasing 14 new tracks on his 4th Studio Album on November 13th.
I appreciate the way Chris writes and performs his music. His music is a reminder of the outlaw country that I grew up on.
Stapleton is an amazing performer. His ability to jump across Multiple genres of music is a bonus. He can be a Rockstar, a blues man, and a rockabilly all in one set.
Looking forward to hearing the new stuff. Maybe it will help promote today’s country radio into “Starting Over”.
Let’s get back to real old fashioned country music. If I wanted to hear rap rhymes, I would just read poetry.