When I was a senior in high school, I had a habit of pulling from a pile of outgrown t-shirts from the back of my father’s closet and wearing them to wrestling practice. These t-shirts were primarily from a phase my old man had in his late 30s that consisted of solid colors and pithy slogans. Examples were “I’m the daddy, that’s why,” “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me,” and “NOW it’s Miller time” above an airplane flying over a burning city. These shirts often provided the only chuckles heard during wrestling practice.
Quite possibly my favorite of the wrestling practice t-shirts was the oldest member of the collection. It was light blue with dark blue iron-on velvety letters. It read: “Willie Nelson Fan Club” and was signed in black Sharpie by several of my dad’s friends from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base when he left active duty and became a Reservist in 1978. Even in 1992, Willie Nelson was cool. Wearing my old man’s homemade fan club t-shirt made me feel cool. And, it reminded me of my childhood.
Every time we’d meet my dad’s best friend Joe from the Air Force for summer vacation at Guntersville State Park in north Alabama, he’d let Joe know our ETA by addressing his call sign on the CB radio when we were a few miles out. Dad’s CB handle was “Blue Max,” and Joe was the “Red Dawg,” and after our week at the lake, when we’d load up the station wagon and head back toward Hendersonville, Tennessee along I-65 north, the Blue Max would pick up the CB and sing “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson, and I knew vacation was over and that Willie Nelson was cool, because my dad didn’t sing anybody else’s songs over the CB.
Last night, I attended my first Willie Nelson concert; it was at The Tabernacle. After his son performed, the 79-year-old senior Nelson walked out onto the stage and showed us that he still has that which he never lost.
And for a few minutes, I was The Blue Max, and it was 1978. Until this song started, and at the 1:19 point in the video, my bride made a realization:
He likes the bright lights and night life and good timin’ friends
When the party’s all over she’ll welcome him back home again
Lord knows she don’t understand him but she does the best that she can
Cause she’s a good hearted woman, she loves her good timin’ man
And then the nostalgia faded, and I realized I’m not the little kid riding in the back seat with the Blue Max or even the older kid wearing his t-shirt to practice. I’m the Good Timing Man, blessed with a Good Hearted Woman. And that’s even better.
You two are a great fit for each other.
(Loved this. Grew up listening to Willie.)
Glad they love Willie in Canada, too!
The Red Headed Stranger isn’t so red-headed any more!
Nope…I don’t think he has been for quite some time!
My God Muskrat. I wasn’t ready for that. I’ve been having some realizations myself. Cats in the Cradle is where I’m at.
“You see the new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, but it’s been sure nice talking to you dad.”
I wish he took the time back then, but I’ve got a rowdy cheering section these days. 7YO, 3YO, and 3MO. I make the time, throw the football, etc.
Great post, brother.
The Cheeky Daddy
That was another song I used to hear in the car with my dad, and he would always tell me he hoped he wasn’t like Harry Chapin’s protagonist, and I’d say he wasn’t, which seemed to make him feel good. Now, I get it.
My dad gave me a cassette with this song on it for my 18th birthday, and he cried.
I probably would have, too.
Lot to be said for a good hearted woman (and for Willie, for that matter).
Great post, sir.
“I’m the daddy. That’s why.” was always my favorite. There was something twisted about wearing that to wrestling practice.
Not as twisted as the pink “I’m the mommy, that’s why” one!
Random Willie Nelson thoughts:
– My late grandfather was a HUGE Willie Nelson fan. When I hear Willie’s music, I am overwhelmingly reminded of him. I feel like Willie’s my surrogate grandfather … albeit a long-haired, pot-smoking grandfather who doesn’t know I exist.
– My wife and I took my Mom to see Willie in concert about 12 years ago. Great time.
– My Mom got to meet Willie up-close and personal, and they posed together for a photo.
And those are all the random Willie Nelson thoughts I have for you today.
Oh, one more: I dug reading this. Glad you had fun at the show.
Dammit, now I want more memories with Willie Nelson! Clearly I’ll have to see him again.
This IS her anthem!
It’s your good heart that makes you love those good times. I’m just thankful that you always DO come home again. Like tonight, when you will be showered with my kisses, Muskrat.
I saw Willie with a buddy of mine a couple years ago, and throughout the show, we were crossing our fingers that he’d play that. He did, and life was glorious.
If only that level of glory can enter our lives every day…wait, we can become Willie roadies! That’s the answer!
But which of your shirts will your kids want to wear someday?
Great revelation. Willie can still bring it, too. I saw his son a few months ago. Very talented kid.
I’m pretty sure this is the t-shirt my son will wear in high school: http://instagram.com/p/UHty8lgnVj/
Or the one that says “Johnny Cash is a friend of mine.”
Love you too, buddy!
As I’ve read through your adventures over the years, Muskrat, I must confess that issue puzzled me a little.
All the good-timing doesn’t seem to have compromised the time you spend with your family, or on other important obligations like the military or work.
Finding the time, finding the energy to live such a full life…how do you do it?
I doff my hat to you!
I get inadequate amounts of sleep. Thanks!