Last week I talked about a great song that is special to me because of what it means in relation to my relationship with my dad. Today I talk about a great song that is special to me because of what it means in relation to my relationship with my sister.
I wasn’t exactly doing poorly in my mid-20s. I had a good job and a bad girlfriend. I was self-sufficient and away from home and didn’t want much more from life. But I was spinning my wheels.
My sister called me on a Sunday night. I didn’t get the message because my cell phone’s voice mail was jacked up for whatever reason. My mom called and left me a voicemail Monday evening. It spurred me to reset my voicemail password. I listened to the voicemail from my sister, deleted it. It was the last time I ever heard my sister’s voice.
All my mom’s voicemail said was, “It’s your sister.” The quiver in her voice said the rest. I was 25.
She died in a house fire that Sunday night. That picture is the last one of us together. I drove the two hours home, spent the week with family. I drove the two hours back, went back to work that next Monday.
The next year was a bit of a blur. I drank. A lot. Played a lot of NCAA Football 07. Got promoted at work, much to my boss’s bewilderment. Got and lost in turn a good girlfriend. Couldn’t much tell you what happened at 25 and what happened at 26.
But God gave me a gift I couldn’t hide at 25 or 26. The next decade my wheels would do a lot more turning and a lot less spinning. I changed careers twice, went back to school, worked five different jobs, lived in six different states, got married, bought two houses, and brought a daughter into this world.
So, yeah, by a bit of songwriting serendipity, Was It 26 has just the right time frame. I can’t say I’d like another try at 25, though. I can’t say I lived it well, but I can say I lived it and came out the other side relatively whole. So not just quite right, but it ain’t all about all the words, now is it? The best songs make your brain sand right over the stuff that doesn’t fit (hard, even if that’s kind of brains’ primary function). It isn’t his song, but Stapleton absolutely smothers the song with pathos, every intonation just so. Stapleton has rightly set the right side of the country music world on fire these past few years, but for Christ’s sake, give this particular song its due!
Was It 26 was written by Don Sampson and first recorded by Charlie Daniels. Stapleton included it on his album Traveller.
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