In 2004, I was invited to Washington D.C, to attend a very special event on Capitol Hill. My driver was late getting me from the airport to the venue, due to the traffic and maize of government buildings. When I finally arrived, officials were standing outside waiting to escort me quickly through all of the usual security stations, and into a large event room. It was a gathering of members of the U.S. Congress, rows of reporters, and television cameras, unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Jim Havey, my publicist, was very familiar with all of the Washington “hoopla” as he called it, quickly pulled me aside and said “savor this moment, and always remember you are the first recipient of this prestigious honor!” As Senator Clinton came to the podium on the stage, she stated the reason for the event, and a large video screen began featuring some of my…

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In my life, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all kinds of kinds (title of my friend Don Henry’s song). During my music career, I lived in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, and was blessed by having a lot of friends there. One day it was brought to my attention that Jamie, a little local girl, battling a brain tumor, loved my songs. It was arranged for me to visit her home, during the course of that year, we became pals. Her mom, dad, sisters, and I watched her health fail, but she always kept her great smile and sweet, sassy attitude. One day she told me her dream was to ride in a helicopter. I picked up my phone, called my detective friend Wes, and within an hour, secured a Metro police helicopter. The big day came, we picked Jamie up in a patrol car with lights flashing, and she was…

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In December of 1989, we moved from Ocala, Florida to Mount Juliet, Tennessee, a town located between two lakes, and near Nashville. I relocated my company, Diversified Optical Sales, to Franklin, TN, so that I could learn more about the craft of songwriting from the treasure trove of great writers in the Nashville area. I chose Mount Juliet because it was a great place for families with young children, and a short commute to downtown Nashville. A few months after moving into our home, I was at the grocery store in Hermitage, and as I drove out of the parking lot, made a last minute decision to return home on a route that took me by Old Hickory Lake. Driving by the lake, I came upon a house that was on fire, with heavy black smoke billowing out of a window. I hit my brakes, jumped out of my car,…

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At 8 years old, my imagination was bolstered by cartoons on our black and white TV, and one of them was a blind character by the name of J. Quincy Magoo (Mr. Magoo). I was fascinated that he could step off a building or a hill, and float to the ground unscathed with his umbrella . One Saturday, my curiosity weighed heavier than my good sense, and I drug our old wooden ladder from the barn, put it up on the side of our house, then climbed to the roof with mama’s umbrella. There wasn’t much room between the side of our house and a fence that divided our lot from my Uncle Cecil’s yard. My calculations told me that a running leap, would carry me over the fence, then float down to the ground somewhere near the cherry tree in his lawn. I thought about how the newspaper and…

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I grew up in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, a small town near the banks of the Tennessee River, and a short distance down Hwy 72, to the Alabama state line. As a 16 year-old, I remember that nothing exciting ever happened there…except during football season, when the entire town turned out for every game. Then one day, three Asbury Seminary students visited our little town turning it upside down with their clever music, stories, and conversations about God. It was a gathering unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and young folks came from all around the area, some just curious, others wanting to be a part of something big. The message of peace, love, and God, was delivered to packed congregations via songs, and captivating stories. The youth revival started at the Holly Avenue United Methodist church then after the first night, moved to the larger First Baptist church, due to…

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The carnival is coming to town!! Every summer that was the most exciting news to hear, when you were a kid, living in a small town. Cumberland Valley Shows… that name still brings back some very memorable times for me as a young boy. One summer day, after spending hours in the hayfield, I jumped into the farm pond to wash off the day’s sweat and dirt, went home to clean up, then headed to the carnival. I had heard that you could get in free if you volunteered to wrestle a bear, and since money was scarce, I signed up to not only see the show, but to be a part of it as well. The huge tent was packed with local folks anxious to see a wrestling bear. They brought out a little bear, and put it in the middle of the stage (ring), handed it a 2…

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I was 14 years old, and jumped at the chance of a job as a car hop, at Richard City Dairy Bar, a small burger joint, located on the Tennessee/Alabama state line. My job was to sit in a chair, next to the order window, and when a car pulled into the parking lot, I would take my pad, write down the food order, then hand it through the window to the cook. One day, the parking lot was empty, and a car with two men pulled up, so I ran over, took their order for burgers, fries, and shakes, then turned it in to the cook. When the food was ready, I delivered it to the men, and they gave me a $20 bill. I took it to the window, the cook handed me their change, and I returned to the car and stood patiently waiting for a tip.…

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I was 14 years old when my brother Glenn and I opened our Christmas presents and were delighted to find our first guns. Mama and our stepfather Cecil, gave us stern warnings to never take the guns out unless an adult was with us. My 15th birthday came in January, and we loved getting to shoot our own guns, but always with an adult. One Sunday, in the following Spring, our parents left the house to go visit the Taylor family at their farm across the river.  I’m not sure who came up with the idea of sneaking the guns out to the rock quarry, but since I was the older brother, I’d say it was my suggestion. We grabbed the guns, stuffed our pockets with ammunition, and ran to the quarry that was near our house. We fired until we were completely out of bullets, but before that, we…

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At sixteen, my guitar and I found a captive audience at the local community hospital, as I went room to room and miraculously, patients responded to my songs with smiles and laughter. One day Dr. Taylor directed me to Billy, a little ten year old boy battling Wilms’ Tumor, a childhood cancer that had grown out of control. I sang to him every day for two weeks, and we became pals. One day after school, I was bagging groceries at Paul Turner’s Food Market, and the hospital called the store asking me to come to the hospital as soon as possible. I jumped in my old Volkswagen Bug, and raced to the hospital. When I arrived, a nurse told me that Billy was struggling and needed me. As I opened the door to his room, I saw his mother holding one of his little hands, and his grandmother on the…

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