A few words about an announcement?
I don’t know where to start with this. I’ve never shied from gloating about personal achievements, but then in my defense, I’ve never shied about sharing disastrous failures and shortcomings. I began radio at the age of 17, and by the age of 22, my life was playing out, daily, on 50,000 watts. At minimum, eight hours a day. I’d often joke with my ex, “If you ever wanted to cheat on me, you can turn on your radio and know exactly where I am one third of every day.” I didn’t expect her to use that to her advantage.
So I’ve never really known privacy as an adult and always kind of accepted that my life and its obstacles and successes were “warts and all.” And I think, at least, that that transparency is part of why people enjoy whatever it is that I do.
There. That was frank. So I want to share the first hurdle I have crossed in achieving a lifelong dream.
I’m writing a book. It’s all very new, and the ink has just dried on the contract. With my luck, it’ll fall apart tomorrow, and that’s why I’ve been hesitant to make it public. It’s overwhelming. Very overwhelming. The most overwhelming thing I may have ever encountered, and I include a divorce, losing a job in the middle of that divorce, a tornado hitting my house and being hit by a car while walking across an intersection. This is the thing I’ve wanted to do my entire life. And I’m going to have an opportunity to write a book about a thing that is incredibly important to me: home.
I’m going to be given an opportunity to share a version of the Muscle Shoals story that has never been written about, longform. I’m going to have an opportunity to share a story about something that only people immersed in that city and area really understood. And I’m going to get to work with a lot of people that I admire personally and professionally while I do it. And we’re really hoping y’all can buy it and I can sign it for you by June of 2015.
I already have a lot of great folks that have agreed to help me, and I haven’t even begun to talk to the folks that I hope will help me tell this story as its timeline becomes more current. I’m absolutely shooting for the moon with the version of this story I want to tell, and I hope that I’m able to finish something that you’ll want to buy.
There are a lot of thanks that I’ll dole out in the Acknowledgements. We’ll get there. There are plenty of you. But I feel like mom and dad need to be acknowledged now. Mom housed a teenage son as a single mother and educator and she was always willing to drive two, three or four hours to a concert. She let me control the CD player in her Tahoe on the way to the school she taught at and I attended every morning. The lady crossed a police picket line to see Rage Against the Machine with me. She’s a gem, she’s an inspiration, she’s supportive and she’s my friend.
Dad was one of the first folks that told me I could write. He never understood, and still questions, why I would, say, spend money on two consecutive nights of concerts to see the same headliner, but just because he didn’t get it didn’t mean he discouraged it. [The only “very special episode” we ever had was the day he found Marilyn Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” in my Monte Carlo.] He’s responsible for my sense of humor, and I’ll swear forever that our relationship is best shown in SLC Punk! by Matthew Lillard and Christopher McDonald’s characters. Dad secretly knew I sucked at baseball, but he played catch with me anyway. Then he told me how proud the words that I’d write made him and my heart would swell up three sizes like the grinch’s. I’m incredibly lucky that as an adult I can call both of my parents friends, even if they hate each other. A lot of divorces don’t end that pleasantly for the kid.
Joey Tichenor and Greg Tice are two of the best friends that anyone could ever ask for. The former literally gave me his bed for three months while this broken leg was healing and stairs seemed too challenging, and with both, I’ve found an amazing crew to attend destination rock concerts and festivals. While some folks managed to discourage me along the way, I never once felt that either of those men doubted I could do this, and that support meant the world. Not to get sappy on you bros, but sure enough, I love you.
I spent the entirety of 2013 in a relationship with Christy Turnipseed. And while that wasn’t meant to be, Christy was with me in a year that writing about where I came from and being proud to share that story became important to me, as “Muscle Shoals” received wide release and I began to realize that the things that I took for granted as a kid were worthwhile stories that people outside of Lauderdale County needed to hear. She never knew it all, and that naïveté was inspiring. Christy immersed herself in that, and she didn’t complain when I’d stay up until 3 a.m. writing those stories. While our relationship wasn’t a long-term solution for either of us, I know that our friendship can be, and her support and patience is a big part of how I got here.
And there are a slew of other friends and teachers from grade school through my matriculation at Auburn University that will be paid their respects along the way, but for now, I’ll conclude with my former editor, Birmingham magazine Managing Editor Carla Jean Whitley, who has been an amazing friend and mentor to me through an incredible journey of a relationship, and who is largely responsible for connecting the dots to make this dream a reality. She began Birmingham Box Set, a music blog, several years ago, and I feel like together, we made it a beast that couldn’t be tamed [I mean, it actually had to be forcibly put down.] She has her own book coming out soon, and I’ll be the first in line to buy it.
I’m going to try not to bore y’all too much with stories along the way. Mostly because that would ruin the surprise of what this is going to be. But to the people that I haven’t publicly thanked yet, you know who you are and I will. For anyone that’s ever clicked a link or read something that I shared, thank you. From the depths of my heart. I hope you’ll be entertained as I take this journey.