If you have been a reader of this blog for a while you know of my love of all things Dolly Parton.
I even stalk follow her on Twitter.
When we were in the Smokies back in 2007 and I was searching for any and all things Dolly. I remember wanting to again stalk find her “Tennessee Mountain Home” in Sevierville while we were there. We got to go to Dollywood and her brother was performing there the day we went but alas, no Dolly (she does drop in from time to time).
Dolly was my introduction to country music.
One of my earliest memories include spending time at my grandma’s house in the Ohio countryside doing many things such as going for rides through the beautiful Crawford County countryside, having bonfires in the orchard next to her house, visiting with relatives and friends but I also remember sitting on her living room floor and watching Hee Haw on a Saturday night.
But I can’t say that my childhood was defined by country music; meaning that when I write the soundtrack of my life (specifically childhood) there would be no country tracks until around 1994. (With the exception of Dolly)
It started with a great radio station out here: US 99.5, in Chicago.
And a trend towards more mainstream country music that brought this great genre back into my life again.
And guess who was spearheading that campaign? Dolly.
“The Bodyguard” came out in movie theaters in the early nineties and the hit song was “I Will Always Love You” which Whitney Houston sang beautifully.
But she didn’t write or perform this song first.
Then something else happened to my group of friends in the nineties that further cemented country music on their brain.
They came to Ohio for my first wedding.
When I got married for the first time, we had decided that the event should be in Ohio in the church my parents married in/I was baptized in, in the town I was born in, in the area I was raised in.
The reception was held at a family-owned barn in the woods.
Well, everyone in our wedding party (with the exception of my brother and my high school best friend) was from Chicago and they fell in love with the area I grew up in.
The scenery, the people, my family, the music, everything.
And in the process of planning a wedding, spending time with family and driving all over Richland County to get ready for our big day, I fell in love with it all over again too.
I do remember a friend of mine coming up to me at the end of the reception, lights twinkling, crickets chirping and the smell of moss hanging in the air saying, “ I don’t know why on earth you ever left here.”
At my reception, there was a mix of all sorts of music (at my request) from rap to classical but the most requested music that night?
Per the Chicago contingent.
When we got back, I did notice my friends taking a new interest in country music. Instead of going to see Janet Jackson, they were going to see Tim and Faith. Instead of heading to Taste of Chicago they were attending Country Thunder. My city-slicker friends were becoming country converts, thanks in part to my home state wooing them for a week in July of 1995.
While the marriage didn’t last, the beautiful memories did.
Every time I hear a country song, any country song, I think of that great day with all of my family and friends all in one place on a sleepy little hill in Bellville, Ohio.