Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Circles of Life
Today seemed to be one of those "nostalgic" days for me. I cant tell you why, but it seemed that every thing I heard or did all day reminded me of some instance of long ago, that is etched indelibly in my memory. I'm sure that everyone has these kind of days from time to time, but today seemed to be more concentrated and vivid than other days that I conjure up long distant memories of my past. It started out this morning when I got to look at the old face staring back at me in the mirror. The question crossed my mind; when did my hair turn from a deep Chestnut with Gold highlights, to the Silver that it is now? Then, about an hour later, while setting at my desk, I looked at a picture of me and my older brother Lee, that was taken about 6 month's before he died from Leukemia in 1941. He took after my fatherís Cherokee lineage, with his dark eyes, dark complexion, while I took after our Irish side of the family with my fair complexion, and my cotton top thatch of hair. Well, I thought to my self, I guess that every thing does go in circles, given enough time, because it only took 64 years for my hair to get back to the original color it was at the age of 5. That got me to thinking about all of the "circles" that have occurred in my life time, lo these 69 years up to this point in time. Of course almost all of these "circles" have to do with the music I love in one way or another. When I was a little bitty redneck, back in the 1940's, we all listened to real country music on the radio then. There was NO delineation of any kind whatsoever! It was ALL country music. There was Big Band Music, Dixie Land Music, the Blues Music, Jazz, Etc., but there was only one KIND of Country music, Period! I had heard Bill Monroe on the radio a time or two up to that time, but Bluegrass Music hadn't been "Invented " yet. Another circle in my life that was yet to surface.

Time passed, as it always does, and the year was 1955, in the spring. ALL of the country Music stations in Stockton and the valley were spewing forth the message of the Big Grand Ol Opry Show that was coming to Stockton to put on a gala event at the Civic Auditorium. All of my family planned to attend as well as every one I knew that liked country music. This was THE BIGGEST country music show to hit Stockton since Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys played the civic auditorium in 1943. (I was at that one too, a nitt to remember.) What got me to remembering that memorable Opry Show, was an old Wilburn Brothers Show , that was on T.V. tonight. I got to thinking, I saw those brothers when they were teenagers, and just starting their careers, and they were on that Opry show that I saw at the civic auditorium in 1955. And what a show. A LOT of the Opry stars were there that night! Roy Acuff, and the Smokey Mtn. Boys, Grandpa Jones, The Wilburn Brothers, Carl Smith, Red Sovine, Skeeter Davis, Ferline Husky, Harlan Howard, 3 or 4 more acts that I cant remember now, and last but not least, The Louvin Brothers! The Louvin Brothers! Wow! What harmonies they layed out there for the folks that night! I was in pure musical HEAVEN! BUT, the greatest thing that they did that night was to introduce a young recording artist that had just signed with their record company, Capitol Records. I will remember that evening as long as I live! Towards the end of their set, they took a minute to say; Folks, we have a young country artist in the audience tonight, that we feel is going to go a long way in this business. He's a home town boy and we know that you are gonna be proud of him. He has a new single out on Capitol right now, and the name of it is, You're Gonna Have to Bawl, That's All. Please make welcome Mr. Ray Park! Ray, stand up and take a bow! Whereupon my friend Ray Park stood up in the front row, and took a bow, to thunderous applause from the whole 10,000 folks that were packed in there! Little did I know that 18 short years later would see me playing with he and his partner Vern Williams. Another "circle" in my life that was yet to unfold.

Setting there watching that old Wilburn Bros show tonight ,also reminded me that they are all gone now, as are Vern and Ray and a whole lot of my musical heroes and friends. Today while I was whiling away the day out in my shop making a sheath for a vintage Bowie Knife of mine, I was listening to a CD by Bradley Walker, probably the finest , pure country voice that I have heard since Merle and George came along. He got me to thinking of all of the great , old time country singers, when country music was real country music. A year or two ago I got to met Bradley at the IBMA doins in Louisville, Ky. He sang on stage that night with Third Tyme Out, and I remember thinking to myself, That kid is gonna be a force in this music before he's done. Little did I know that I was witnessing the start of another "circle" in my musical life that night. Rounder records signed Bradley to a recording contract last year, and his first CD on their Label is , Highway of Dreams, a wonderful collection of country style songs , done up in Bluegrass style. While I was listening to Bradley sing today, I realized that : Here I am, almost back to where I started, listening to REAL COUNTRY music, like I used to when I was 5 years old, and my hair is now Silver, instead of White! As the old Cherokee Sage would put it; The Hoop has turned around my son, and you have seen the Magic in the "Circle of Life" . Enjoy each day that is given to you, for life is a gift, not a right .

Thanks to my music, my life has truly been a gift, and I look forward to many more exciting "circles" of life , and I am truly blessed to have lived long enough to see my hair return to it's true color.

Posted:  5/4/2007

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