I don’t tend to listen to music unless I’m driving, and popular music being what it is, I’ve preferred talk radio for years. But tonight while my husband was flipping channels on the TV, he clicked past something that took my breath away.
“Wait, stop, ohmygodgoback. Was that Jennifer Nettles and RONNIE DUNN? And were they singing ‘Let Him Fly’?”
<blank look> <as I almost lost my shit in impatience>
And oh, how it was! CBS was airing an Academy of Country Music special called, “Girls’ Night Out, Superstar Women of Country.”
Mind = blown.
John Fogerty and the Judds. Blake Shelton singing a Miranda Lambert song. Vince Gill with Carrie Underwood. I choked up when Little Big Town sang Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” and hit a particularly fantastic harmony. I struggled to explain the song to my husband without sobbing.
I blamed pregnancy hormones, but it’s more. So much more. I’m overwhelmed by the things – little things – that aren’t a part of my life anymore, stunned by the overwhelmingness of remembering parts of old lives. Once upon a time I danced. Not with my then-husband, who wasn’t a fan of country music, but with a friend from work. We’d hit a country bar and dance until they kicked us out, one song after another after another.
Oh, how I love to dance, but not the bumping and grinding people lately pass off as dancing, but real partner dancing. And oh, the memories of singing at the top of my lungs with my then-boyfriend as we took a road trip to North Carolina. He listened to the songs because I liked them… then they became his songs, too. We sang everything as I played every country music song I’d ever loved, sharing stories and laughing at our terrible voices.
Three in the morning, terrified I wasn’t meant to be married, and I happened upon “Let Him Fly” by the Dixie Chicks, which I didn’t know until tonight was a Patty Griffin song. “It would take an acrobat/ I’ve already tried all that/ I’m gonna let him fly.”
And one night alone — I was alone a lot, downside to dating a divorced dad — my first year in Knoxville, I happened upon Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland singing a capella, in the most stunning white tuxedo alone on a stage. I froze, couldn’t take my eyes off her, crying before I could explain why.
It was the first time I heard, “Stay.” “Oh, shit, there’s more out there for me. Now what?”
Those memories, they’re not big things, not the kind of reasons you lose sight of how fabulous your current life is, but they are… sad. My now-husband wasn’t into it and took his laptop to bed, undoubtedly to watch James Bond on Netflix, and here I am, choked up by harmonies all by myself.
And you know? It’s okay. This is my thing, all my very own.