Every Tuesday morning I leave the house in Yukon at 7:30 a.m. and drive to the office in Minco. I wait there until I receive a phone call saying the newspapers are printed and leaving the print shop in Lindsey. Sometimes they call before I actually get to Minco so I don’t even stop at the office. We then meet up in Chickasha which is almost the halfway point between Minco and Lindsey. They transfer the papers to me and then I drive back to the office in Minco. My drive from Yukon to Minco to Chickasha and back to Minco usually takes up about two hours.
I love those two hours of time. It’s just me in my pickup listening to my music. And I never know where my mind will drift. I have had some of the most productive brain storms on those Tuesday morning drives. Sometimes the music makes my mind flow to thoughts about music. Sometimes it rolls with ideas about making money or directs me to think about plans for the future. I’ve come up with answers about projects I was tasked with on many Tuesday mornings.
This past Tuesday, December 28, 2021, my drive was different.
One of my Christmas gifts was a gift card for iTunes (which I love because there is always more music I want than I can afford to buy). I downloaded the new Willie Nelson Family album. I listened to it nonstop on my two-hour drive.
About halfway between Minco and Chickasha I just started boohooing. The Nelson Family album, released on November 19, 2021, includes Willie, his sister Bobbie, his daughters Paula and Amy, and his sons Lukas and Micah. It is a very spiritual collection of 12 songs that last 32 minutes.
When the frog entered my throat and the tears started to flow I was on my second play through of the complete album and I thought it sounded like a “Goodbye” from Willie. I thought, “Is Willie dying and this is his way to say goodbye?”
When I got back to the office I looked up Willie’s tour schedule and he is booked through April 30, 2022. So I don’t want people to start spreading a rumor that he’s dying. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen his children post on Facebook and Twitter that their father is alive and well and not on his deathbed, despite the clickbait or rumors being shared by others.
But after hearing Willie sing “Too Sick to Pray” and Lukas sing “All Things Must Pass” and the whole family sing “Family Bible” my brain just went there. But I think my reaction probably had more to do with the death of others.
From December 14th to Tuesday morning (two weeks) I personally knew five different people who had died, two of which were cousins, husband and wife that died eight days apart. In Tuesday’s newspaper we had four obituaries, which is a lot for our little newspaper. One was for a two year old and one was for a friend’s brother who was only 47.
I had also just read a news story about all the deaths due to Covid-19. Oklahoma had more Covid-related deaths per capita in 2021 than any other state. So far more than 12,400 Oklahomans have died from Covid, more than 823,000 Americans have died from Covid and worldwide more than 5.42 million people have died from Covid.
I think my reaction on this Tuesday morning drive was healthy. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from buying and listening to the Willie Nelson Family album. I love the album and have listened to it dozens of time since Tuesday and not had that reaction. It is not a depressing album.
In addition to the three songs mentioned above it also includes one of my mother’s favorite hymns “In the Garden,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” and the uplifting Carter Family tune “Keep it on the Sunnyside.”
My favorite however is one Willie wrote. He recorded it in 1996 on his “Spirit” album. His youngest son Micah sings it on the Family album.
I haven’t been able to play and sing much since before Thanksgiving because of congestion and a cough. Finally antibiotics and steroids seem to have taken care of that problem. So here, on this last day of 2021, is my attempt at “I Thought About You Lord.” I’m strumming a 1950s Kay guitar that is still for sell at my antique shop.