Story Telling Set To Music

First of all, a family situation with my parents has taken over my life the last few days. I hope this post makes sense.

I’ve mentioned before how my mother listened to country music during my childhood. I’ve also said I wasn’t a fan. That all changed when I sold my first book with a cowboy hero and started listening to country music for inspiration.

What I love about country music is how many songs tell a story or contain a lesson. “I Drive Your Truck” (click here to listen) by Lee Brice tells the story of a man coping with a friend or relative’s death serving our country in Afghanistan. (It was inspired by the true story of a man who lost his son.) A song with a happier story is Brad Paisley’s “Mud On the Tires” (click here to listen) . A man’s asks a woman to go for a ride down by the lake in his new truck. It always makes me smile, want to hop in a truck, and go four-wheelin’. Then there’s Billy Currington’s “Good Directions” (click here to listen) where a city girl asks a country boy for directions. It plays every string of this happily-ever-after girl’s heart. (For an extra treat click here to listen to his “People Are Crazy”.)

But the song that’s speaking to me most, keeping me going, and inspiring me lately is Rascal Flatts’ “How They Remember You”. The song contends everyone will be remembered. The question is how, and the lyrics insist the answer is up to us. Dealing with aging parents has me thinking about the past and legacies. The song asks some important questions. The answers to which determine how we’ll be remembered. Here’s part of the lyrics. Click here to listen)

Did you make ‘em laugh or make ‘em cry?

Did you quit or did you try?

Live your dreams or let ‘em die?

What did you choose?

When you’re down to your last dollar

Will you give or will you take?

When the stiff wind blows the hardest

Will you bend or will you break?

We get one life shot. How we use it and what we do matters. Not all of us can save the world, but we can treat those around us with kindness, respect, and dignity. Life can be rough like it is right now. That stiff wind is definitely blowing hard. How do we keep from breaking? As my BFF Lori told me lately, take the lemons and make lemonade or my grandmother’s lemon bars! If we can’t do that, throw the lemons at the fence. At least that’ll burn off stress.

Everyone is struggling, and many of our coping strategies, like getting together with friends, aren’t available. So what do we do? We can text friends to say hello or check on them. Or better yet, call. A dear friend, Cathy has done this during COVID-19. Her call made my day! If you’re like me and have a stockpile of cards, send them to friends along with a note. We need to find creative ways to stay connected and show we care.

And if you think little actions don’t make a big difference, consider this quote from the Dalai Lama. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” 

To be entered in the random giveaway for an digital copy of my latest release, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment to this question. What is a song (doesn’t have to be a country one) that speaks to you or inspires you?

Take care, be safe, be kind, and tell someone today how much he or she means to you. 

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

36 thoughts on “Story Telling Set To Music”

  1. Natasha Bedinfield’s “Unwritten” is a wonderful song.

    Here’s the chorus:

    Feel the rain on your skin
    No one else can feel it for you
    Only you can let it in
    No one else, no one else
    Can speak the words on your lips
    Drench yourself in words unspoken
    Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins

    denise

  2. Oh Julie, sending you hugs for you and your parent. I came to country music late – but I LOVE the ballad/story-telling. There are so many that speak to me: The Thunder Rolls, Blown Away, I Hope You Dance, but probably my fave is, I’m Gonna Love you Forever, by Randy Travis. Here’s the firs stsanza and chorus:

    You may think that I’m talking foolish
    You’ve heard that I’m wild and I’m free
    You may wonder how I can promise you now
    This love that I feel for you always will be
    But you’re not just time that I’m killin’
    I’m no longer one of those guys
    As sure as I live, this love that I give
    Is gonna be yours until the day that I die
    Oh, baby, I’m gonna love you forever
    Forever and ever, amen
    As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
    As long as old women sit and talk about old men
    If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful
    I’ll be happy to tell you again
    I’m gonna love you forever and ever
    Forever and ever, amen

    • Laura, thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot. I thought of this song, too, and I actually included Blown Away in my rough draft of this post, but thought with Lee Brice’s I Drive Your Truck, the post would be a little too heavy. But Carrie Underwood’s song as really spoken to me lately because of what I’m dealing with. Talk about a powerful song!

  3. George Straits – Weight Of The Badge

    It’s gonna be a long one, another grave yard shift
    As he says goodbye to his wife and kids
    He spends his life just like his dad’s
    Driving away under the weight of the badge
    He’s seen it all in his fifteen years
    Watching our backs, facing our fears
    Lord knows it ain’t no easy task
    Keeping us safe under the weight of the badge
    He swore that oath to protect and serve
    Pours his heart and soul into both those words
    Lays his life on the line
    And the line he walks is razor-fine
    Tempered strength is always tough
    But he ain’t gonna buckle under the weight of the badge
    Not that long ago he woke up in the hospital
    With his wife and kids praying by his bed
    He said: I’m gonna be alright
    There’s just some times you gotta fight
    And the truth is, nothing truer could be said
    I do it for us and I do it for them
    And I ain’t gonna buckle under the weight of the badge
    It doesn’t weigh a lot until you put it on
    And the weight of it is staggering
    Then duty calls each time
    He knows he’s gotta answer
    And it’s all in the hand of
    The heavy weight of the badge
    And he ain’t gonna buckle
    Under the weight of the badge
    No he ain’t gonna buckle
    Under the weight of the badge

    Also by GS- this one really gets to me!
    Cheyenne:
    Her telephone rang ’bout a quarter to nine
    She heard his voice on the other end of the line
    She wondered what was wrong this time
    She never knew what his calls might bring
    With a cowboy like him it could be anything
    And she always expected the worst in the back of her mind
    He said, It’s cold out here, and I’m all alone
    I didn’t make the short go again and I’m comin’ home
    I know I’ve been away too long
    I never got a chance to write or call
    I know this rodeo has been hard on us all
    But I’ll be home soon, and honey is there something wrong?
    She said, Don’t bother comin’ home
    By the time you get here I’ll be long gone
    There’s some body new and he sure ain’t no rodeo man
    He said, I’m sorry it’s come down to this
    There’s so much about you that I’m gonna miss
    But it’s all right baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne
    Gotta go now baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne
    He left that phone danglin’ off the hook
    Then slowly turned around and gave it one last look
    Then he just walked away
    He aimed his truck toward that Wyoming line
    With a little luck he can still get there in time
    And in that Cheyenne wind he could still hear her say
    She said, Don’t bother comin’ home
    By the time you get here I’ll be long gone
    There’s some body new and he sure ain’t no rodeo man
    He said, I’m sorry it’s came down to this
    There’s so much about you that I’m gonna miss
    But it’s all right baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne
    Gotta go now baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne
    She never knew what his calls might bring
    With a cowboy like him, it could be anything
    And she always expected the worst in the back of her mind.

    • Tonya, King George sure is something isn’t he? The two songs you mentioned, especially the first, get to me. I have friends who are police officers, and for the good, honest ones right now, life is certainly difficult and even more dangerous. I reference a lighter George Strait song in To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Zane like George Strait sings, he’s not here for a long time. He’s here for a good time. Thank you for sharing those songs with us today. Take care and stay safe.

  4. The Dance by Garth Brooks

    Looking back on the memory of
    The dance we shared beneath the stars above
    For a moment all the world was right
    How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye
    And now I’m glad I didn’t know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I’d have to miss the dance
    Holding you I held everything
    For a moment wasn’t I the king
    But if I’d only known how the king would fall
    Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all
    And now I’m glad I didn’t know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I’d of had to miss the dance
    Yes my life is better left to chance
    I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss the dance

    • Wow, this is a great song! It reminds me of how life is mixed with good and bad. The question is poses is an interesting one–if we knew the pain and loss that was coming, would we still do it all over again? Would we give up the wonderful times and memories such as the dance to escape all the pain? I think life would be almost as painful without all those good memories. Thank you so much for stopping by the corral to share Garth’s song. Take care and stay safe.

  5. You’re Gonna Miss This – Trace Adkins
    She was staring out the window of that SUV
    Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
    She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
    Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
    She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”
    You’re gonna miss this
    You’re gonna want this back
    You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
    These are some good times
    So take a good look around
    You may not know it now
    But you’re gonna miss this
    Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
    In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
    He tells her “It’s a nice place”
    She says “It’ll do for now”
    Starts talking about babies and buying a house
    Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”
    You’re gonna miss this
    You’re gonna want this back
    You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
    These are some good times
    So take a good look around
    You may not know it now
    But you’re gonna miss this
    Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
    Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
    One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
    She keeps apologizin’
    He says “They don’t bother me
    I’ve got two babies of my own
    One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
    Huh, it’s hard to believe, but
    You’re gonna miss this
    You’re gonna want this back
    You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
    These are some good times
    So take a good look around
    You may not know it now
    But you’re gonna miss this
    You’re gonna’ miss this
    Yeah
    You’re gonna’ miss this

    • Teresa, what a beautiful song! I think things like this every day now that my boys are grown. It reminds me of Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink”. When we’re young life doesn’t go fast enough and we spend all our time looking forward. I often think I would like to go back with what I know now savor every moment with my children. Your song also reminds me of how my oldest always thought we were such tough, horrible parents. Then when he was in college, one day he said to us, “Seeing all my friends’ folks, I realize how great you guys were.” It doesn’t get better than that. Thank you for mentioning this song and bringing that wonderful memory to mind. Take care and stay safe.

  6. You Say by Lauren Daigle

    I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
    Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
    Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
    Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know, ooh oh
    You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
    You say I am strong when I think I am weak
    And You say I am held when I am falling short
    And when I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours
    And I believe (I), oh, I believe (I)
    What You say of me (I)
    I believe
    The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
    In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, ooh oh
    You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
    You say I am strong when I think I am weak
    And You say I am held when I am falling short
    When I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours
    And I believe (I), oh, I believe (I)
    What You say of me (I)
    Oh, I believe
    Taking all I have and now I’m layin’ it at Your feet
    You’ll have every failure God, You’ll have every victory, ooh oh
    You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
    You say I am strong when I think I am weak
    You say I am held when I am falling short
    When I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours
    And I believe (I), oh, I believe (I)
    What You say of me (I)
    I believe
    Oh, I believe (I), yes, I believe (I)
    What You say of me (I)
    I believe (oh)

    • Janine, I can’t thank you enough for mentioning this song today. It’s exactly what I needed to hear and remember today. I think most everyone could use it right now. Even our poor children are stressed out and scared. Thank you for stopping by today with such timely musical advice. Take care and stay safe.

  7. My folks listened to country music, so I have been listening to it since the day I was born 77 years ago, and I don’t have a favorite.

    • Estella, thank you for stopping by. Who knows, with all the great songs everyone has mentioned, maybe you’ll find a favorite. If not, at least you’ll have a great time listening to fabulous songs. 77 is impressive! I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes in the world and not just in country music. Take care and stay safe.

  8. Pave Maijanen: Elämän nälkä (Hunger of life): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uttYnh8hBQk

    https://lyricstranslate.com/en/el%C3%A4m%C3%A4n-n%C3%A4lk%C3%A4-hunger-life.html-0

    This is those mornings when I don’t know
    Should I get up or stay
    Pull blanket over my head
    And get buried under a rocky shell
    My heart beats alone at small hours
    And it doesn’t get through from the mountain of sadness
    Fear moves with darkness
    It feels like that the day isn’t coming

    And then when the breath of morning wind
    Something fills this small room
    It finally wakes me up

    Hunger of life attacks from the foot of the bed, it doesn’t scant it’s powers
    It gets me up
    Hunger of life sits in my shoulder, says “leave already”
    It encourages me to continue
    Hunger of life
    Encourages me to continue

    Curtains move away and I watch
    How light pushes away the shadows
    That wrapped my soul to night
    Although I wanted to get away from it
    When I was beaten to ground and nobody
    Couldn’t carry me over the deep river
    Life between sky and ground
    Life brings its light to my autumn

    And then when the breath of morning wind
    Something fills this small room
    It finally wakes me up

    Hunger of life…
    https://lyricstranslate.com

    • Minna, what beautiful lyrics and how uplifting. I have a friend who’s struggling with health issues and was being hard on herself for everything she couldn’t do right now, everything she wasn’t getting done, and getting behind on. I told her she was out of bed and that was an accomplishment she should be proud of. I think sometimes we forget that. Thank you for chatting with me today and stay safe.

  9. I love listening for stories in the songs I listen to. “It’s Gonna Be Okay” by the Piano Guys always picks me up when I’m down.

    • Jess, I’ll have to check out that song. I need to make a playlist of pick me up songs for when I’m down. Thank you for the suggestion and for stopping by. Stay safe!

  10. I love Country music!! I grew up listening to it with my Daddy, and I also like big band and what was called “popular” back in the 30’s and 40’s which is what my Mom listened to. On song that gets me through is Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds. My favorite scripture set to music! I know what you’re going through, as I’m my Mom’s caregiver. I’ve been home with her for 8 years now, and she’s 96. I treasure my time with her.

    • Trudy, thank you for your kind words and reminding me of the wonderful Byrds’ song! Bless you for caring for you mom. The choices are never easy, are they? My brother lives in Austin where my parents are, but I’m in Dallas. I’m trying to help doing what phone and background work I can while he handles dealing with my dad’s doctors as he fights cancer.

      Thank you for stopping by to wish me well. Take care and stay safe.

  11. Julie – I love what you said about staying connected and making our lives count for the good. So important! I’ve always listened to top 40 or golden oldies, but the country sound has always drawn me in. I had a cassette tape of Kenny Rogers back in the 80s that I listened to over and over. Loved the stories like the Coward of the County and Ruben James. I remember taking drives to my grandparents house in Sacremento and the only radio station we could pick up was country. But that’s when I first heard Devil Went Down to Georgia, and I became obsessed with that song. Loved that fiddle!

    • Karen, I love that Charlie Daniels’ song. I can’t believe we lost him this year, too. No one will ever play the fiddle the way he did.

      I got hooked into country music the same way you did. I was driving from Dallas to Paris, Texas, to pick up a dog or cat for a rescue and that was the only radio station I could find. A lot of songs spoke to me that day, and I’ve listened ever since.

  12. There are so many great songs out there… different ones touch me for different reasons… such a wide range too… from classical to golden oldies, to folk and modern day pop… songs that make me feel or songs that make me want to dance… love music.

    • Colleen, you’re so right about how different songs touch me differently depending on what’s going on with me. Bob Jovi and Journey always make me want to dance and move. Beatles makes me smile and get nostalgic. Country music, though, makes me think and touches my heart in a way other music doesn’t. Thanks for being at the corral today and stay safe.

  13. What a nice post. I am so sorry you are having issues with your parents. The current situation makes it so much harder to deal with things. Distance makes it hard to be there or have support be there. It is one more thing you need to factor in which you don’t need.
    My youngest brother died a little over a month ago. We couldn’t go up to visit him before things got bad and were not able to attend the funeral. My husband was diagnosed with cancer last week and they are doing further testing to see just what we are dealing with and what treatment will be. Our oldest daughter has a lot on her plate right now and other than phone calls and messages, we can’t be there to help her. We don’t want to tell her until we know what we are dealing with because she doesn’t need another issue to deal with, especially when she can’t come for a visit. We are telling our children who live nearby. Times like this make us realize how much we take for granted our freedom to get around and do what we please.
    My favorite song is one that came out right after we were married in 1972 – TIME IN A BOTTLE by Jim Croce.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44uZ9RoufyE

    Lyrics
    If I could save time in a bottle
    The first thing that I’d like to do
    Is to save every day
    ‘Til eternity passes away
    Just to spend them with you
    If I could make days last forever
    If words could make wishes come true
    I’d save every day like a treasure and then
    Again, I would spend them with you
    But there never seems to be enough time
    To do the things you want to do
    Once you find them
    I’ve looked around enough to know
    That you’re the one I want to go
    Through time with
    If I had a box just for wishes
    And dreams that had never come true
    The box would be empty
    Except for the memory
    Of how they were answered by you
    But there never seems to be enough time
    To do the things you want to do
    Once you find them
    I’ve looked around enough to know
    That you’re the one I want to go
    Through time with

    As true today as the first time I heard it.

    • Patricia, did you get my emails? You were the giveaway winner on my last post, but I haven’t heard from you.

      My life feels stress free compared to yours. I’ll add your family to my prayers. No family should have that much to deal with and COVID too. I pray you find comfort in memories of your brother and that the prognosis for your husband is a good one.

      Time in a Bottle is so beautiful. And what a tragedy that we lost Jim Croce at so young an age. Can you imagine what else he might have written if his life hadn’t been cut short?

      Take care and email me!

      • I will check my emails. I am several days behind and am trying to catch up. Thanks for your thoughts.

  14. This blog hit home and I’m in a hard place right now. My family is burying my niece today that fought a hard eight month fight against cancer. Tim McGraw’s, “Live Like You Were Dying” has always struck a cord with me because I Multiple Sclerosis and need to live every day like I’m dying. My niece is the third family member we’ve said goodbye to this year and I’ve had many friends die this year. Then there has been Covid to make this even a tougher year for us all so again, “Live Like You Were (Are) Dying” should be our mantra.

    “Live Like You Were Dyin'” by Tim McGraw Lyrics:

    He said, “I was in my early 40s, With a lot of life before me, And a moment came that stopped me on a dime. I spent most of the next days Lookin’ at the X-rays, Talkin’ ’bout the options And talkin’ ’bout sweet time.” I asked him, “When it sank in that this might really be the real end, How’s it hit you, when you get that kind of news?” Man what’d you do?” And he said, “I went sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter, And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.” And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance To live like you were dying.” He said, “I was finally the husband That most the time I wasn’t, And I became a friend a friend would like to have. And all of a sudden goin’ fishing Wasn’t such an imposition. And I went three times that year I lost my dad. Well I finally read the good book, And I took a good long hard look At what I’d do if I could do it all again. And then… I went sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter, And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.” And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance To live like you were dying.” Like tomorrow was a gift And you’ve got eternity To think about what you’d do with it, What did you do with it, What can I do with it, What would I do with it. Sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter, And I watched an eagle as it was flyin’. And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance To live like you were dyin’.” To live like you were dyin’. To live like you were dyin’. To live like you were dyin’. To live like you were dyin’. https://youtu.be/_9TShlMkQnc.

    My niece had just turned 38 less than a month before she passed leaving behind a son that is only 9, a husband and a large devastated family and many friends so we should all should “Live Like We Were Dying!”

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