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Blue Collar Gospel...Memphis With The Veterans...Rat Selfies


Monday January 29, 2024

Monday morning…back home from Memphis. 49 for the high today with some sunshine.



Mine started early Friday morning with the “Blue Collar Gospel” listening party that took place at the Daywind Recording Studios in Hendersonville, Tennessee. A bunch of songwriters including me sat in a big recording studio in the building where I write a lot of songs for Billy Blue Publishing. “Blue Collar Gospel” is the gospel bluegrass album out soon on Billy Blue Records. All of the songs were written or co-written by my friend Rick Lang who was there, in from Maryland and we all got to meet his lovely wife who made the trip with him.



Each songwriter got to hear the recordings of their songs. Jerry Salley who produced this amazing album talked about each song before the song was played as did Rick. The title track was first “Blue Collar Gospel” that I wrote with Jerry and Rick and it features Jerry’s singing with the Oak Ridge Boys. Pretty special as the tenor singer for the Oaks has basically retired because of his health. And he has a little solo part on our song which is really an honor as it may be the last thing he sings on. It was truly amazing to hear. Goosebumps.


And the 6th track is one I wrote with Rick Lang titled “Church Bells Are Ringing” that features Danny Paisley, a great traditional bluegrass singer who’s been named the Best Male Vocalist twice. The images of those small churches like the one I attended when I was young was captured in this song. Very fun.


But every song I heard was just so good. I’m happy for me, all the writers and everyone who is part of this project. I’ll let you know when they release it…and it won’t be long. 




After the listening party I picked up songwriters Irene Kelley and Wood Newton and we made the journey over to Memphis for Freedom Sings USA retreat. Steve Dean who was in another vehicle ahead of us on the I-40 West trip texted us that the journey was nothing but Troopers & Potholes. He was right. We saw plenty, and we hit plenty. That time of year. BIG potholes.


We checked into the historic Peabody Hotel downtown where it’s all about the duck walking that’s been going on for years that draws tourists from around the world. Folks make trip to Memphis just to see ducks walk. Amazing. And everything in the hotel seemingly has ducks attached to it…like my coffee cup here.



Then Friday evening we made our way to the VA center where we met our veterans and all five songwriters performed a mini concert for the veterans and guests and staff. Always a cool experience.



Then a nightcap and off to bed.



At 9 AM Saturday morning I sat down with Darrell “Oz” Osborne who served 21 years in the Air Force. Oz is a partial paraplegic. In a chair and his sister has pretty much become the person that has to take care of his needs including physical needs. He can’t lift his arms or his legs so you can imagine. He calls her his “angel”. And I me her as well. She served almost 20 years in the Navy.

Oz has been a paraplegic now for 2 years or so. Despite that, he’s got a great sense of humor and he had me laughing hard when he told me how he’ll go into stores like a Wal Mart and when one of the clerks asks him if they can help him find anything he’ll say, “can you show me where the new legs are”?


Oz stayed in as an enlisted man. Highest rank you can get. He set up perimeter defense. A lot of years in Little Rock but was in Desert Storm, Grenada when that went down, and also in Somalia right in the middle of the “Blackhawk Down” incident. Saw some things nobody should see.


He LOVED the military.


So his song turned out to be “Standing Tall”.


And here’s a few lines of the lyric.


They put a wire in my neck in 1989

Then in 2022 it snapped and got stuck in my spine

I guess it’s a miracle I’m living at all

Though I now longer walk…I’m still standing tall


Every veteran’s song sung by a songwriter Saturday night was truly amazing. And we had a big crowd that included this 96 year old World War II vet who asked to see me to tell me how much he enjoyed the song I had written with and for Oz. That meant the world to me.


Because in the end, all I care is that the veteran I’m writing with loves his or her song. An Oz truly does.


Thank you Freedom Sings USA for allowing me to be part of this wonderful patriotic experience. 




A new report claims COVID claimed 170,000 lives in nursing homes. And most of those still in nursing homes have not gotten the latest shot.


A lot of patients say that Keto has helped with their mental illness. Scientists are trying to figure out why.


The CDC announced that respiratory illness remains elevated across a large part of the country.



Chiefs vs 49’ers. Should be a good one. In Vegas this year where the average price of a ticket is $6,500. Most expensive is fetching $30,000 down close to the field. I saw two different Super Bowls and sat near the field and the 50 yard line at both and it didn’t cost me a dime. Lucky. I was covering those two games and my ticket got “comped”. Those were the days!  And I saw 2 GREAT games. In San Diego John Elway and the Broncos beat the Packers at the end. In Miami Joe Montana beat my Bengals at the end with THAT drive for the 49’ers.


I think Vegas is favoring Taylor Swift for this one.



In cold & snowy Minnesota where my sister Rita lives with her family they have a “Snow Plow Naming Contest” each year. Fun idea. The finalists are in for 2024. Here’s a few of my favorites.


Alice Scooper, Dolly Plowton, Flake Superior, Just Scraping By, Miracle On Ice, and Taylor Drift.


I’m going to try to convince Tennessee to start a “Name That Pothole” contest.



Mercedes Benz is erecting a luxury condominium tower in Dubai.  A billion bucks to build. It’s filled with luxury apartments. If you want one it will ONLY set you back 10 million dollars. Wow.



You could buy this prefab collapsible house from Amazon for $34,000.  Check this bad boy out. 



Pretty sure I know which one I can afford.



A scientist has taught two rats how to take selfies. So the next time you just feel like you HAVE to take a danged selfie…remember somewhere a rat is doing that as well. 




USA Pickleball (yes…there’s an association for that) is working on quieter pickleball equipment to make the game less noisy. I guess between the grunting and the noise off the paddle it gets a little noisy. I guess. I figure that where pickleball is being played there’s a lot of older folks trying to take a nap while those games are going on…and they ain’t happy.



Hard to believe it’s been 38 years since the Challenger disaster when we lost all those astronauts. Tragic. What I remember most about that event besides the horrific tragedy itself was that I was doing the morning radio show at WUBE in Cincinnati. One of the hot records climbing up the chart at the time was a song by Billie Joe RoyalBurned Like A Rocket”. We stopped playing it like every other country radio station did and the song never recovered.



A plastic surgeon is predicting that breast reductions will surge in 2024. I think they call that “downsizing”. He claims there’s a lot of “boob regret” going on right now from women who enlarged and then didn’t like the results.


And this seems like an excellent place to share my “If HadBoobs” song. I don’t get a chance to say that nearly enough.



I’m off to write with young and talented Addie Levy who besides singing can play pretty much any instrument with strings attached to it. She’s been busy playing a lot of shows and traveling so it will be fun to catch up with her and create something new together.



Have a great Monday!