I was born in Jackson, Mississippi but we moved to the sleepy
little town of Newton when I was three or so.
To be perfectly honest, I spent most of my childhood
there thinking that God had made some terrible mistake
and had somehow planted me not just in the wrong place,
but the wrong planet.
It would take years for me to understand that everybody has
that feeling at one time or another. Trouble was, mine was
It was not the fault of my hometown, I was just weird.
So it was with pleasant surprise after eighteen years
of living in the world at large, to have the Chamber of
Commerce calling and wanting to give me the key to the
city of Newton.
Mind you, most of my family had followed me to Nashville,
so I hadn’t been back there in years. I was amazed at the
destruction that the by pass and Wal-Mart had done to the
downtown area. It was all but boarded up.
There was little fanfare but I’ve always had the natural
ability to create my own. It was so hot that I decided
to not dress for the occasion, just shorts and my hiking boots.
The radio station broadcast live from the truckbed they
had set up in the middle of the street in front of the
I was tripping on the thought that I had taken a bus out
of that same station to get to Nashville. There I was
blaring out on the same radio station I had played on
when I was a kid, every Saturday afternoon.
I saw many old High School teachers and classmates, a
few old musicians, some radio personalities and long
ago neighbors. It was a real rush back in time. I was
more than honored by the event. It was one of those
times when you keep pinching yourself to make sure it’s
Before we left town the next morning I took the flowers
that the Chamber of Commerce had sent to my room and
laid them on my Daddy’s grave. Tears flowed freely but
they were not tears of sorrow.
I just felt he would have been proud of me and that was
the perfect period to the ending of a lifelong sentence.
As I knelt there, I took the key out of it’s box in
the vain attempt to show him.
Printed there were the words, "Solid Brass Bottle Opener."
I thought to myself…Well at least it opens something.