Did ever want to get the opportunity to say "Thank You" to someone you never even met? I do. In fact, sometimes I get the urge to just -- right out loud -- say thank you to some folks who have had quite an influence in the life of this sometimes singer/songwriter.
Folks like Hank Williams, Johnny Horton, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Their songs -- recorded on flat discs of vinyl - encompassed the first musical voices and styles I remember hearing when I was a child. If I could, I would thank them for teaching me that "different" isn't always a bad thing and that just because society may say "that just isn't right" does not mean something is wrong. You might add Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino to that group as well.
I would thank Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (also known as John Denver) for showing me that music can be much more than background accompaniment to beautiful lyrics; that finding something -- or someplace -- you love can be magical and it's OK to share that magic with others; that we can all hope to be "born again" in one way or another -- whether in our 27th year or much later in life.
I would thank Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan for showing me that it doesn't take a great vocalist to be a great writer and artist.
I would thank the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie, Jerry Jeff Walker, Chris LeDoux and Kris for teaching me that conforming to the "norm" is not always the best option; that doing it the way you feel it may lose you some support now, but gain you great respect in the end.
I would say "thanks" to the members -- the old, the new, the in-between, and the "legacy" members -- of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for teaching me that it's OK to look back to find the way to the future, and that, even though musicianship is a serious endeavor, it's OK to go out there and have a blast while knocking folks dead with your always exciting -- some say rambunctious - road show.
I would thank Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, Petra, Mylon LeFevre and Phil Keaggy for showing me that Christians could play rock music -- very well in fact -- and that singing to God can be as powerful as singing about Him.
I would say "Thank You" to the late Keith Green and the late Mark Heard, who showed me -- through their music -- that even Christians go through tough times and periods of doubt, and that they struggle with the same struggles everyone faces. And I would thank them for showing me that there is no shame in sharing those difficulties with others.
And I would say a special "thank you" to every church pianist and organist I have ever known -- for obvious reasons.
I could go on all day. I didn't mention Chicago or Les Paul or Carlos Santana or Duane Allman or Dicky Betts or Eric Clapton. Then there were those haunting twin fiddles made famous by Bob Wills and his boys. (And I forgot to mention train whistles and jet engines and the sounds of the highway in the middle of the night).
There have been so many musicians and writers who have -- collectively -- influenced my life as a musician, singer and songwriter. But these are the artists whose music made up the lion's share of the soundtrack of my life.
For better or worse.