Long Time Gone…

I had the strangest thing happen yesterday. I was driving home from work, listening to the radio when I heard a song I had not heard in forever.

And I mean forever.

I turned the volume way up and enjoyed every second of the song, the production value, the infectious rhythm, the great lyrics and the amazing harmonies. I remembered the first time I heard the song and I remember how much it stuck with me.

I was sad when it ended.

The song was “Long Time Gone” by the Dixie Chicks.

My days with the Chicks go back to a conference room in Ohio around 1996. It was (and is) common practice for a record label to bring their new performers to radio stations across the country just as a way to meet and greet radio folks and hopefully make some friends.

And I have made many friends as the result of conference room concerts, Chesney, Faith, Martina, Rascal Flatts and dozens more.

But on this particular day, I didn’t want to sit in the conference room, I was tired and had a ton of things to do and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to some group that would probably just be a one hit wonder. That attitude changed immediately. I sat in the far end of the room with my boss and my partner. One of our sales reps and our receptionist rounded out the entire audience.

The three girls, all in black and obviously a little tired, stood quietly at the other end of the room. We spent a few uneasy minutes sizing each other up as the music started.

When they hit the first notes of “There’s Your Trouble” I literally got chills. The moment Natalie Maines opened her mouth and started singing, I knew these three ladies were going to change Country music forever.

For 30 minutes they played. No big production, all acoustic: a guitar, a fiddle, a mandolin, a banjo and those amazing voices. These ladies were master musicians and phenomenal performers.

We are all way too aware of what happened after that. In the years since the incident on a London stage a lot of people still harbor resentment for what happened and that’s fine. Right or wrong, remember one of the reasons the Chicks were SO amazingly popular was their ability to speak their minds. I for one was thrilled (and still am) that my youngest chose to be a Chicks fan than a Britney fan.

What saddens me most is that we are being denied the joy of hearing that music. Yes, we can get downloads and CD’s but there’s something about driving down the street and hearing the familiar open to a song that just brought you joy on the radio. Of course, I have to point out that I was listening to satellite radio because radio stations are still terrified to play the Chicks. And I think it’s time to change that.

What happened happened. It was a throw away comment in the middle of a concert that was unfortunate and stupid. If you’ve never said anything that fired up someone, then you’re a liar. She just happened to do it in a microphone. But it’s done its history. You can’t change it but you can change how it affects you. Think about it, with all the things in this world that are wrong, where does this fall? I actually know people that will get up and leave a restaurant or a bar if a Chicks song comes on their muzak system.

Really? It affected you THAT much?

What I’m trying to say is let it go. So much negative energy is being spent on things that in the big picture really don’t matter.

Homeless people selling bottled water on a street corner. This is the greatest injustice in your world today? If it is, congratulations. Here’s an idea, take your dollar, set it on the dash and drive by. If you really want to get rebellious, tape it to the window in open defiance.

Red light cameras. In the past weeks, I have heard people go apeshit over red light cameras. Really, this is what has you so torn up?

They’re here they’re not going anywhere and if you want to get the best revenge and beat the red light cameras at their own game…slow down.

Listen, I’m guilty too. I still get irritated at one pitch that was hung in the face of Dave Henderson in the 1986 ALCS that took my Angels out of the World Series. For decades I cursed the poor SOB who threw that pitch. But you know what? Had it not been for that pitch, Boston never would have been able to advance to the Series and there never would have been the Bill Buckner blunder. And where would baseball be without that?

So, I guess what I’m saying is don’t let the BS get to you. Just crank the volume and enjoy the music.

And remember: at the end of the day, is night.

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