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May 7, 2018

WITHOUT MUSIC LIFE WOULD BE A MISTAKE...

 

John Butch PrestonJohn Butch PrestonBy John Butch Preston


According to anthropologist Margaret Mead, even among the most remote, primitive peoples some form of music exists. And it is known that log drums and bone flutes have been found dating to prehistoric times. In our day and times, however, music surpasses even literature and the other arts as our most basic form of self-expression. Its influence on the human physic is so profound that it is now being used as therapy for stroke victims, Alzheimer’s, and autism. Indeed, music is liberating and pervasive to the extent that it affects everyone. Haven’t we all occasionally had a tune running around on a loop in our heads that we can’t seem to turn off?

In our region people love country music and bluegrass, which is just country music played faster. It is perhaps because of this deep love for it that it has produced so many music stars from our area, too many to name.

Although many types of wonderful musical instruments exist, the human voice was mankind’s first musical instrument—but it would be a mute instrument without a song to sing. This is where a very important aspect of music comes into play—song writing. To make up lyrics doesn’t require that you read music; it only requires that you want to express some kind of emotional experience in your own words. Anyone with a little creativity can try. Or perhaps has already written a good song only to have shoved it back in a drawer to be forgotten about.

Who knows where inspiration for a song lyric comes from? I was driving down U.S. 23 in Lawrence County one day when I suddenly passed a rangy-looking mule tied up beside the road to a Ricky Scaggs sign, along with several yard sale items scattered about. Well, being a horse trader at the time, I turned around and went back and bought that mule at a yard-sale price. When I got home with him and turned him out with the other brutes, I named him The Country Music Highway Mule. Then it happened that as I was walking back up to the house, the first line of a country song came to my mind. So I called it The Country Music Highway song, and it goes as follows:

 

...Come and take a ride, take a ride with me, down through East Kentucky on U.S. twenty-three. We’ll go from Elkhorn City to the Greenup County line and see the names of country stars upon the highway signs. It’s called the country music highway but it’s not in Tennessee, yet some folks here we’re proud to say made opry history....

 

“We’ll see Loretta’s home place and Ricky’s bluegrass roots, and find out what it’s like to walk in Dwight Yokum’s boots. There’s achy-breaky Billy Ray and Patty Loveless too, born and raised on this highway it’s where they paid their dues. It’s called the country music highway but it’s not in Tennessee, yet some folks here we’re proud to say made opry history.

“This road produced Chris Stapelton and the lovely Crystal Gale, and the late and great Keith Whitley left his mark upon this trail. Now the Judds they hail from Ashland and have worldwide appeal but before they left for Nashville they harmonized among these hills. It’s called the country music highway but it’s not in Tennessee, yet some folks here we’re proud to say made opry history.

“Now if you have a guitar and you long to sing and play, and you want to be a super star there’s hope for you someday. Just make sure that you’re born and raised on U.S. 23, and just like them you’ll be amazed at all that you can be. It’s called the country music highway but it’s not in Tennessee, yet some folks here we’re proud to say made music history.”

If an old, half-broke-down mule can inspire a song, then anything can. That’s the wonder of music. And without it, as the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, life would be a mistake.

 

Comments  

0 #2 Diane 2018-05-08 11:49
Thanks for the song, and the article. It's encouraging to know that I could try my hand at writing a song and maybe, who knows, get a winner! Charlotte Elliott, who wrote "Just as I am", has inspired thousands. What a blessing that song has been.
Your article reminds me that winners are those who put themselves out there and just do it!
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0 #1 Whatever... 2018-05-07 16:27
If you think bluegrass is just "country music played faster" then you obviously don't know bluegrass music. And Ricky's name is spelled with a "K"
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