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The Shoals

Today…road trip to Alabama! We shall travel the familiar childhood Arkansas roads with a stop at Mammoth Spring, lunch at Sue’s Kitchen in Jonesboro, (will definitely buy cheese straws), remember Black Rock as we near Tennessee, and then on to “The Shoals”.


Why? Music of course! "ShoalsFest" with Amanda Shires, (one of The Highwomen), Lucinda Williams and the Drive-by Truckers, (a friend wrote a PhD dissertation on DBT). The biggest name is Jason Isbell. (If you’re on Twitter you know him.) He’s won several Grammys including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, and Americana Music Awards.


I could preach a series of sermons on some of Isbell’s best: "Letting You Go" is about a child: "It's easy to see that you'll get where you're going / The hard part is letting you go / The hard part is letting you go." Written about, and for, his daughter, Mercy Rose, a parent recalls his baby girl's first days, and imagining her wedding day. "I wish I could walk with them back through your life to see / Every last minute of every last day," "Elephant" is a harrowing song about a friend slowly dying of cancer. Isbell describes joys, side effects, (like losing hair), and pain of the "elephant" in the room: "Surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone." In "Alabama Pines", Isbell feels unmoored from the place where he grew up. “If We Were Vampires" tells the truth of how our time here is brief: "Maybe we'll get 40 years together," "But one day, I'll be gone / Or one day, you'll be gone." Then Shires, his wife, plays the violin and Isbell replies, "Maybe time running out is a gift," an encouragement to each of us to cherish the time we have. "I'll work hard 'til the end of my shift / And give you every second I can find / And hope it isn't me who's left behind". "Dress Blues" is about a high school acquaintance, who was killed in the line of duty —a gut wrenching remembrance of war's casualties. "Cover Me Up" is Isbell's straightforward song about getting sober and saving his marriage--it's vulnerable and deeply felt. ‘Georgia Blue‘ will be his latest album coming out in this month, which he promised on election day 2020; it is a thank you to the state and the proceeds will go to Georgia-based non-profits: Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight and Georgia Stand-Up.


Isbell only plays at venues requiring vaccinations; he also requires masks, even though we will be outdoors. So we will be safe.


This is the first time Joey and I have traveled out of Missouri together since 2017. We will stay at an Airbnb cottage on the river (see pics below). Always looking forward.


With love,

Pastor Micki









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