Friends in Low Places

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garthConcert #2 in Tulsa, OK with Mom and Pops

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This weekend Tim and I boarded the Amtrak overnight train en route to Garth Brooks World Tour concert #4 in Sunrise, Florida. The best part? #5 and #6 happen over the next two weekends because he’s in Baltimore—a 40-minute ride from DC. Poor Tim.

Little did he know when he surprised me with a romantic getaway weekend for concert #1 in Jacksonville, Florida 1.5 years ago, that he’d be accompanying me to multiple shows. He’s more of a Nirvana man, so he describes Garth shows as “being on a different planet.”

For me, I reconnect to my patch of the planet. Oklahoma. You know, that sweet little state above Texas. It’s hard to explain why I’m such a fan, but I thought it would be fun to try to put it into words.

I grew up listening to hair metal and loving Axl Rose, became a fast fan of NWA and Too Short thanks to church camp, and fell in love with country music in college. When you attend the University of Oklahoma where boots and hats abound, country everything grows on you.

When I hear his music or even see his images online, my eyes well up and I’m not one who is quick to cry. It’s not a crush sort of thing (like Axl was), it’s a deep appreciation coupled with pride in a fellow Oklahoman whose done good. Real good.

It brings back memories of hearing his music in high school and someone telling me that he was the next big thing, listening to him on cassette tape while drinking Coors Light at the bottom of an empty swimming pool, and dancing to him at each party I attended during my four years of college.

My favorite song is “Shameless” and he’s played it at three of the four concerts. When it comes on, I melt and get even louder. I always apologize to the poor soul next to me explaining that “I’m just so excited.” It reminds me of Madonna’s “Crazy for You”—a song about love that just feels so good.

One of the first songs he sang Saturday night was “The River” (early 90s video of him performing). It’s one I’ve heard hundreds of times and bellow at the top of my lungs. Yet this time the words clicked in a new way and I was keenly aware of the lyrics:

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what’s behind you
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores…and

I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide…yes

Chorus

There’s bound to be rough waters
And I know I’ll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all…yes

This song is balm for the soul. A poetic reminder to follow dreams despite the “rough waters”/challenges. Rather than “sit on the shoreline”/comfort zone and accept status quo, get out there and “chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide”/make things happen.

It’s so easy to push through day-to-day doing what I refer to as “rinse and repeat”: get up exhausted, go to work unsatisfied, watch TV to numb, go to bed exhausted.

What would it look like to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide?

Of course “Friends in Low Places,” “Unanswered Prayers,” “The Dance,” and his many hits are crowd pleasers. Those of us who were fans from the 90s seem to know every word. It’s like his music is part of my DNA despite him taking years off and me moving on to Carla Bruni and Pink Martini.

When I hear or see him, I get nostalgic. Prairies. Long horns. Wide open space. Cowboys. Simplicity. Wheat fields. Lakes. Oil fields. Wichita Mountains. Buffalo. Sonic drive-ins. Route 66. Native American Pow Wows. Mesas. Thunderstorms. The musical.

When concert #4 ended Saturday night, I sulked. They go so darn fast. I turned to Tim and said, “Maybe we should get more tickets!”

garth1Concert #4 in Sunrise, FLgarth2Concert #4 in Sunrise, FLgarth3Concert #2 in Tulsa, OKgarth4Concert #1 in Jacksonville, Florida circa October 2014