May 9th will always be a special day for me. Back in 1989, it is when Country Music lost Keith Whitley around 9:00-9:30 AM. He had just talked to his mother around 8:30AM and was going golfing with his brother; who was going to pick him up around 10:00 AM. That is about all we know of that tragic morning. Keith was found face down lying on his bed, fully clothed with the equivalent of 20 shots of Whiskey in his system. My life changed forever that day.
Last night, I listened to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time on my smartphone. Larry Gatlin was the host and several others played before my favorite Country Female Singer took the stage. I was able to see a video posting she tweeted with her, her son Jesse, Jesse’s wife, and Lorrie current husband all in the car on their way to the Opry. Another picture was posted of Jesse holding a pair of cowboy boots. I later found out that they were his father’s boots; which I expected Jesse to wear. For whatever reason, I caught a picture of Jesse on stage with the empty boots standing beside him…as to say, this is where his father was standing, watching from above.
Lorrie came on stage around 9:45 PM EST. She sang ‘Candy Kisses’ and eventually introduced her son Jesse Keith Whitley. Jesse must have been nervous, but didn’t show any signs. He sung his father’s classic “Don’t Close Your Eyes’. As he sung this song, my floodgates of tears started to fall. It brought me back to a point in time when we lost Keith on that tragic morning 24 years ago. Lorrie mentioned that Keith Whitley was 3 weeks away from being inducted into the Opry, but he never knew about it. I think Jesse did a great job and I am sure his mother, (Lorrie), was very proud of him.
Jesse is now married to Ashlee Hewitt, who was a backup singer for Lorrie Morgan. Jesse dedicated the song to his new son Jackie Keith Whitley, II. (His father’s real name).
In the previous article, Lorrie mentions the following about Country Music:
“It’s gotten really very technical,” she says when I ask her how the business has changed. “Years ago, when I first fell in love with country music, part of the reason was that it was so much from the heart. It was so simple, lyrically, everything. It was just the simplicity. Every seven to ten years, this business has gone through a severe change. And now, it’s a little bit hard because to me it’s kind of gotten away from the heart, if that makes sense. It’s more technology. And the music business has really become more of a business than what it was originally meant to be. I think a lot of us, we’re kind of trying to go with the flow and trying to do what we’re supposed to do to get on radio, and blah, blah, blah. But you know, I certainly hope that the next seven to ten years brings back the simpler side of country music.”
For now, Morgan sounds unwilling to make the necessary concessions to adapt to the new country landscape. “I’m not willing to sacrifice what I’ve learned and what I’m about just to get played on radio,” she says. “And that’s probably been a big downfall for me, and a big argument with me and my record label through the past few years. I just can’t go in and record stuff just to get on radio. I can’t do it. I think there’s the element of the heart and the simplicity that’s missing in country music, what turned everybody on to it in the beginning. And it’s gotten really far away from that. And I know for a lot of us, it’s scary.
To me, she gets it. This is exactly how I feel about today’s modern day Country Music. There are so many songs being played that have no business being on the radio, disguised as Country Music. I really do not care for the modern day stuff…which is sad because I have yet to break into the Country Music Industry. If I have to play by those rules, I don’t think I will ever make it as a Country Music Songwriter / Singer.
…more to come soon.