by Chris Stuart

Dear Garth,

I am an old man who loves country music. Here's a song I thought you might want to sing. It's about a girl who misses someone and she sings about how much she misses that someone. I an hear the squeak of the nurses' shoes after the last line, or maybe the sound a soft drink machine makes when it dispenses an RC. Do you remember those big bottles? I bet you do.

You can't sing this song the way it's supposed to be sung, so don't even try. You have to have seen the way my third grade teacher looked the day I got up on her desk and sang "Red River Valley." Well, maybe you have seen that look. They tell me you're quite the ladies' man. You don't know what I'm talking about do you.

I just thought of something. This song is supposed to be sung by a woman. In fact it needs to be sung by my first wife. She'd do a bang-up job on it. Much better than you. She had this way of getting her jaw out of line when she sang that just tore me up. Do you know any good woman singers? Well, maybe you could change the hes to shes.

The mention of "Rodrigo" in the eighth verse is a personal matter, so don't ask and don't make a big deal about it. The last thing I need is some prying newspaperman digging up things that are better left alone. Maybe you could kind of slur the name like you do sometimes.

I've got one more suggestion and then I won't say anymore because I hate it when people try to tell other people what to do. When I write a song, I know it's gone the minute it's finished and people can do with it what they want, but I do have one thing I'd like to suggest. Please don't wear sunglasses when you sing this song. People will think you're uppity and then I have to deal with Lloyd who thinks you're uppity anyway, but what does he know.

I don't want Lloyd coming over here swinging his hips with one finger in the air, going "la-de-da" over and over. I just couldn't stand it one more time. I've told him this too, but he won't listen. I say, "Lloyd, it's just show business. It's an act." But he doesn't know any better and he starts telling people that I'm getting a swelled head just because I know some of the bigger names in the entertainment field.

By the way, I've heard stories of people getting songs in the mail and then saying that they wrote them when they didn't, or using parts of them in other songs without giving credit where credit is due. Don't try it, Bubba. We've got our share of lawyers around here and I'm not afraid of using them. From what I understand, you're pretty good people, so let's just leave it at that. Enough said, okay? We understand each other now.

If you have trouble following the story, don't be embarrassed. I've had to stop many times and remind people who's who in this song. With twenty-seven characters it does get confusing, but if you just remember the Risleys are the good family and the Beauchamps are the bad family, it kind of works itself out so stick with it. It also helps to have a little flip-chart behind you that you can refer to. People appreciate the graphics.

Also, on the tape I kind of got lost myself, so in the middle I repeat the fourth and twelfth verses, but just ignore it. When you hear the phrase "Big ol' Lila Beauchamp wooo-wooo," those wooo-wooos are where some pretty risky words had been, but this is the radio version so you can just sing "wooo-wooo" for the next couple of verses until the part where God's wrath starts in.

This is a made up song, but several people around here might recognize themselves, so what I usually do is tell people right up front that while there happens to be a family named Risley and a family named Beauchamp that live up the road a ways, it really has nothing at all to do with them. Of course, it has everything to do with them, because you never saw two more messed up bunches in your life, but just tell them that it's all made up before you start. My lawyer suggested I do it, and I pass it on as free advice.

The cat noises on the tape are not part of the song. Good luck with the weight problem, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Copyright 1995 by Chris Stuart

Chris Stuart sings, plays banjo, and write songs for Cornerstone. Read more about him in a Twangin'! interview and catch some more of his smart-aleck wit in the article about Banjo Jokes.

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