Just a few days before Laine Hardy was crowned the official 2019 American Idol on the Sunday night (May 19) finale, he asked his growing social media following where he fits in. A simple question, for sure, but one with a not-so-simple answer. In fact, as of the day after his big win, that tweet has generated hundreds of responses and thousands of retweets. But still, it’s hard to put a label on Hardy.
“What genre do y’all think I am?” Laine Hardy
On one hand, Swampy Bayou Country Rock, if that’s indeed a thing, is what the majority of his followers used to describe his sound. And on the other hand, Hardy seems to have fans who want him to be all things. In other words, no labels, no boxes, no narrow-mindedness.
With Luke Bryan’s support throughout this Idol season — and last Idol season when Hardy had some success but failed to make it into the top ten — there might have been the assumption that Hardy was going to lean a little country.
After all, he drives a pick-up truck, sometimes just to burn gas. He has a deep Southern drawl that’ll make the conversation crawl. He’s hunted alligators. He’s been in a dirt bike accident. But of all the songs he performed on the show, only a few were straight-up country tunes: Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away,” Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and a duet on Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.” It’s unclear whether Hardy was just asking the genre question rhetorically, or if he truly wants to know where he stands with his fans. One thing we know for sure, though, is that America loves their #BayouBoy.
Though Willie Nelson is a country icon – one who’s career has spanned more than 60 years and has inspired countless artists – he’s long been anchored by a gentle spirit that makes him a powerful leader in the genre, a rare combination that emanates throughout his 69th studio album Ride Me Back Home. He sets this tone with the title track, an empathetic tribute to his beloved horses. Songwriters Sonny Throckmorton, Debby Throckmorton, Joe Manual and Lucinda Hinton channel Nelson’s pure heart that saved 70 horses from slaughter into the thoughtful ode. Nelson exudes a sense of selflessness as he sings of his desire to create a place of solitude for these animals. “Ride me back home to a much better place, blue skies and sunshine and plenty of space, somewhere where they would just leave you alone, somewhere that you could call home, and you would just ride me back home,” he sings over a soothing, classic country-meets-western melody of piano, steel guitar and harmonica.
Alongside his worthy originals, Ride Me Back Home finds the country legend delivering a series of engaging covers, such as the compelling “My Favorite Picture of You” by the late Guy Clark. The waning piano ballad is one of many that demonstrates Clark’s masterful songwriting, transporting the listener directly into the words that find a man recalling the memories of his ex as he explores old photographs, Clark’s writing so descriptive and poetic that it makes the listener feel like they’re the photographer capturing these moments. “A thousand words in the blink of an eye, the camera loves you and so do I,” Nelson sings, honoring Clark’s words and the emotion behind them.
He again fulfills the poignancy in Clark’s songwriting on “Immigrant Eyes” which offers compassion to the millions of people who sought refuge as they entered Ellis Island, their stories reflected in an elderly man who lived through such a harrowing experience that Nelson brings to life as he sings, “sometimes when I look in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes, I saw that day reflected and couldn’t hold my feelings inside, I saw started with nothing and working hard all of his life, so don’t take it for granted, said grandfather’s immigrant eyes.”
Nelson beautifully balances sympathy with humor, like when he follows the loving “Ride Me Back Home” with “Come on Time,” the 86-year-old playfully exploring his relationship with Father Time, but still finding peace in the passing years. “Time, you’re not fooling me, you’re something I can’t kill…you sure have put me in my place…come on time, it looks like you’re winning the race,” he sings over a quick-paced traditional country melody. He’s a natural at conveying his sense of humor on a cover of Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to be Humble,” featuring his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson, about a man who’s obsessed with himself, and when he shares he “had a seven year itch, scratched it out in three” on the bluesy “Seven Year Itch,” alongside a warm rendition of Billy Joel’s acceptance-themed hit, “Just the Way You Are.”
What makes the album particularly special is that it trades filler tracks for lyrical gems, each line dripping with imagery. One of the most striking examples of this is in “Stay Away From Lonely Places,” a re-imagination of the deep cut on Nelson’s 1972 album The Words Don’t Fit the Picture. He turns the song from a classic country song with crying steel guitar into a piano number fit for a jazz bar, Nelson’s calming voice still exuding the pain and heartache of a man who must keep isolation at bay in order to keep his heart from breaking any further. It’s here that Nelson exemplifies his lyrical genius, particularly in the words “remember, sorrow prospers in a heart that never smiles” while creating the visual of someone’s outstretched arms waiting to comfort this lonely soul.
If there’s one element Nelson has embraced consistently in his enduring career is the role of a wise storyteller, which he demonstrates on the Skip Denenberg and Dan “Bee” Spears-penned “Nobody’s Listening.” He builds a narrative around society’s lack of awareness, whether it’s a man in need after losing his job and home, or people neglecting the warnings of a devastating storm. It’s in this message that Nelson embodies the truthful soothsayer as he recognizes, “in these days of change and mass communication, seems like no one’s plugged into the sounds of desperation,” and makes a truly personal statement with, “and the singer sings his song, and he tries to impart all the troubles going on weighing heavy on his heart, what good is a song that he has to sing when nobody’s listening, but I know why he has to try to sing, cause he believes that somebody’s listening.” It’s in this last line where Nelson demonstrates his own awareness, as he’s long served as a beacon of trust and guidance to the fans who’ve been heeding his words for decades, along with his insightfulness and unwavering integrity. This is all reflected in Ride Me Back Home, which continues his legacy as an institution not only in music, but the world he so vastly contributes to.
Named after their upcoming sophomore album and set to kick off September 17th in New York City, the tour will visit 18 markets and stretch all the way from Iowa to Hawaii, and even includes four stops in Australia (as part of the C2C Festival and opening for Tim McGraw). The trio of Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson will also “Let It Roll” through Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin and more, before wrapping November 9th in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Venues for each date have yet to be announced.
Tickets for Midland’s Let It Roll Tour go on sale Friday (June 14th) at 10 a.m. local time via the band’s website, while Spotify users in select markets will have pre-sale access starting Wednesday (June 12th). Featuring the shuffling two-stepper “Mr. Lonely,” Midland’s Let It Roll album is set to come out August 23rd. It follows the Texas-based band’s breakout debut, On the Rocks, which landed at Number Two upon release and included the Top Five radio hits “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Burn Out.” The band have a full summer of festival and supporting dates scheduled across the U.S.
Rita Faye and Connie Cassell Tuck celebrating their much deserved AirplayExpress Platinum award for their gigantic number one charted Gospel Hit, “Rough Around The Edges” recently. According to their FaceBook page they both admitted that they were blessed.
Rita Faye singer on “Rough Around The Edges” had this to say, “Thank you all so much!! Connie Cassell Tuck and I had a blast and we are blessed to see so much popularity for our efforts.”
More about Rita Faye: Rita Faye is a performing singer/songwriter and enjoys many different genres of music. Growing up in the ’70’s era, she learned to mix country and pop. With roots in gospel music and her faith in God, she started writing songs and has a debut CD of Country/Gospel Music – all original music. There are many ways to describe Rita Faye Tanner, but unique, talented, and charismatic just seem to scratch the surface. However, there is one word that ties them all together and is true to her character: Rita Faye Tanner is Real. Few people sing so honestly from their heart and soul. Rita Faye Tanner does so in just the right way, combining art, story, and song in perfect unison.
Connie the one responsible for the songwriting on, “Rough Around The Edges” also feeling blessed and very excited about her AirplayExpress Platinum award.
“Thank you for all the support. Best ever and we love y’all. This is what inspires us to write and sing.” Connie Cassell Tuck
More About Connie Cassell Tuck: Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. Connie Cassell Tuck loves to harness that power with a broad audience of fellow music lovers and passionate musicians alike. Ever since a young age, Connie Cassell Tuck has found great joy and satisfaction by being involved in the creative music process. Connie is an award winning songwriter with many songs recorded by just as many artists. Connie songs are mostly in the Country/Gospel genre. Reaching out to help others. Connie admits that, writing songs in all genres these days helps her to reach to to more and more people, artists worldwide, by telling stories to all she can reach in a song.
Both Rita and Connie often referred to by fans as the, “Beautiful Song Sisters” have had many hits over the years and it seems that they are just starting as the awards keep coming in day after day, month after month and year after year. They have not only received multiple awards from AirplayExpress they have also been nominated for the 2019 “Josey Awards” after winning big there in 2018, held in “Dollywood” for the second time this year.
We here at AirplayExpress wish them only the best and hope that all the dreams they dream from here on will also come true.
At Sounds Like Nashville, we pride ourselves on bringing our readers updates about the latest and greatest songs coming out of Music City. Whether it’s a new single from the biggest superstar or the debut track from a new artist, we hope to bring fans a wide range of what’s hot in country music. At the top of each month, our staff selects their personal favorite new songs and updates SLN’s ongoing 10 Songs You Should Be Listening To playlist. This month, Sounds Like Nashville has a variety of songs from a few of country’s most iconic voices and several from the genre’s brightest rising stars. On the traditional side, Vince Gill and Randy Travis land on the list with their latest, while stepping outside of genre lines is Diplo, who enlisted Cam for his techy-track “So Long.”
Lady Antebellum – “What If I Never Get Over You”
Walker Hayes – “Don’t Let Her”
Keith Urban – “We Were”
Hayley Orrantia – “If I Don’t”
Vince Gill – “A Letter To My Mama”
Old Dominion – “Some People Do”
Baylee Littrell – “Boxes”
Luke Combs – “Beer Never Broke My Heart”
Diplo – “So Long” feat. Cam
Randy Travis – “One In A Row”
Nashville-based Australian singer-songwriter Clare Bowen has announced her debut self-titled record, slated for release on July 12th. Affectionately remembered by many as Scarlett O’Connor from Nashville, this marks Bowen’s first and much-anticipated full album release. Produced and partially co-written by Josh Kaufman (Bob Weir, The National, The Hold Steady), Clare Bowen will include songs penned by husband Brandon Robert Young, as well as household and award-winning songwriters including Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, Camilia Cabello), Wyatt Durrette (Zac Brown Band), Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) and Lori McKenna (Tim McGraw, Little Big Town).
The album is said to be true to Bowen’s life— one that has seen numerous struggles, such as the doctor-presumed deadly cancer diagnosis at 4-years-old, frequent panic attacks growing up, and her brother Timothy beating cancer in 2015. With this project, the 35-year-old shows what triumph over tragedy looks like– all in the form of very personal songs that come from a place of vulnerability.
One highlight on the upcoming release is the gut-wrenching ballad “Warrior.”
“I grew up in a children’s hospital. A ways into writing the album, I realized I’d never written a song about the children that I lived with, most of whom didn’t get to grow up because we were in a terminal ward,” shares Bowen about the song’s inspiration. “One of us passed away every single day. I watched a lot of children fight through hardships that no person should ever have to endure, and yet they were so incredibly brave. No matter what your troubles are, I want the ones who are still here to know they are not alone, and the ones that had to go on the next adventure early, that they will never, ever be forgotten.” Album opener, “Let It Rain,” a victorious anthem about life’s hardships and liberation from fear, drops May 23, with the album available for pre-order the following day. Bowen will embark on her own headlining tour this summer, including stops in NYC and Chicago, in addition to a special hometown show at Nashville’s City Winery.
The country icon made his film debut alongside two legends in a film that was directed by an Academy Award-winning director when he appeared in The Electric Horseman in 1979.
The Electric Horseman starred Robert Redford as Norman “Sonny” Steele, a washed-up former championship rodeo rider who’s been reduced to earning a living by making public appearances to sell cereal. When he’s in Las Vegas to ride a $12 million champion thoroughbred racehorse named Rising Star at an appearance, he finds out the horse is injured and has been drugged, so he decides to steal the horse and travel across the country to release Rising Star in a canyon full of wild horses to live out its life.
Nelson was also deeply involved with the soundtrack to the film, recording “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”, “Midnight Rider,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “So You Think You’re a Cowboy” and “Hands on the Wheel” for the movie’s score.
Released on Dec. 21, 1979, The Electric Horseman was well-received, earning $68.1 million at the box office against a budget of $12.5 million. Reviews were somewhat mixed but leaned toward the positive, and Pollack was so impressed with Nelson that he would go on to produce the country legend in his first starring vehicle, Honeysuckle Rose, in 1980. Nelson would go on to act in many other films, including Songwriter, Red Headed Stranger, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Dukes of Hazzard, but the multi-talented entertainer is openly dismissive of his own acting ability.
“I’m the worst actor ever,” Nelson said in 2013. “Somebody asked Slim Pickens about my acting one time, and Slim said, ‘He plays Willie Nelson better than anybody.’ I have to agree with him on that one, I guess. I usually pretty much play myself, whoever I’m supposed to be. And that doesn’t require a lot of acting.”
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1964
After a little taste of success, Willie got another big break. In 1964, he signed with RCA Records (pictured).
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1965
The Grand Ole Opry welcomed Willie Nelson in 1965 and he released his first album on RCA Records. Nelson released Country Willie – His Own Songs, which was his third album. This one was produced by Chet Akins, who was largely responsible for Nelson signing with RCA.
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1966
Willie Nelson started climbing the charts in 1966 when he received his first Top 25 hit. The first was “One in a Row,” which peaked at No. 19. He had a string of hits following this one and was becoming a household name.
Willie Nelson, 1967
In 1967, Willie Nelson charted an extremely successful single in “The Party’s Over.” The party wasn’t over — it was just beginning. The track stayed in the Top 25 for an amazing 16 weeks!
RacingOne, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1969
1969 brought another big hit for Willie Nelson, but this time it was his recording of a cover. His version of “Bring Me Sunshine” was a Top 20 hit.
Willie Nelson, 1971
Willie Nelson, 1972
Willie Nelson decided to “retire” from music in ’72 and moved to Austin, Texas. It didn’t last long though and he got right back into the music scene.
Willie Nelson, 1973
Willie Nelson gained a lot of success in 1973 when he released his album Shotgun Willie on Atlantic. This was the turning point for Nelson who turned to outlaw country and was well-received by critics.
Willie Nelson, 1974
Phases and Stages was Nelson’s 1974 album. The record tells the story of divorce from both the man and the woman’s perspective. “Bloody Mary Morning” was his biggest hit on the record. This same year, Nelson was arrested for the first time for possession of marijuana in Dallas.
Willie Nelson, 1975
In 1975 Willie Nelson switched to Columbia Records, where he released his Red Headed Stranger record. The contract he signed with Columbia left him very much in control of his music — including this well-received record. This same year he embarked on a tour with some proceeds benefiting Austin City Limits.
Willie Nelson, 1976
Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings’ similar outlaw country style was front and center in ’76 when they released Wanted! The Outlaws with Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser. The album did so well it was the very first platinum record in country music. This same year he also earned a No. 1 hit with “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.”
Michael Putland, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1978
1978 meant two platinum albums for Willie Nelson. He collaborated with Jennings on Waylon and Willie which had the hit “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” as well as Stardust, another important Nelson record.
Michael Putland, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1979
Willie Nelson made his first appearance in a movie in ’79 — but it wouldn’t be his last. He played Wendell in the Sydney Pollack directed The Electric Horsemen.
Michael Putland, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1980
In 1980, the braided singer had the opportunity to perform on the lawn of the White House. Jimmy Carter was in office at the time and Nelson performed a duet of “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” with first lady Rosalyn Carter.
Willie Nelson, 1981
Somewhere Over the Rainbow was one of two albums Nelson released in 1981. The year wasn’t all rainbows for the legend, though, whose lung collapsed that same year while he was in Hawaii.
Willie Nelson 1982
1982 was a really important year for Willie Nelson! He released Always on My Mind on Capitol Records. He released the single of the same name in ’82, which was a No. 1 hit on the country charts and a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. It’s still one of his signature songs.
Ebet Roberts, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1983
The year ’83 meant another collaboration with Nelson’s good pal Waylon Jennings titled Take It to the Limit. Nelson proved to be extra supportive of his friend Jennings when he cut off his signature braids and gave them to him to celebrate his sobriety.
Ebet Roberts, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1985
Willie Nelson released Half Nelson in 1985. The record was a compilation of duets with other artists including Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ray Charles, Hank Williams and several other big names. That same year, he helped to create Farm Aid with John Mellencamp and Neil Young — a benefit concert for family farmers.
Willie Nelson, 1986
1986 was a fun year full of success for Willie Nelson. His album Promiseland was released this year and topped the Billboard charts. His first gospel album, which was released many years prior, was certified gold this year and he starred as the lead in the film version of his album Red Headed Stranger.
Simon & Schuster
Willie Nelson, 1988
Willie: An Autobiography, Nelson’s first book was published in 1988. The autobiographical book was written by Nelson and Bud Shrake and received good critical reviews. He also divorced Connie Koepke this year.
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1990
In 1990, Willie Nelson had a difficult year regarding the IRS. They seized a lot of his assets claiming that the singer owed roughly $32 million.
Willie Nelson, 1991
Clean Shirt, a split album between Nelson and Jennings was released in ’91. It was the least successful of their collaboration albums and only one single even charted. He was still in battles with the IRS at this point and worried that his beloved guitar, “Trigger,” could potentially be taken from him.
Willie Nelson, 1992
The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories was released in 1992 as a way for Willie Nelson to pay off his substantial debt to the IRS.
NBC, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1993
By 1993, Nelson’s debt was finally paid off, but that wasn’t his only victory this year. He was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in ’93 — a huge honor!
Willie Nelson, 1996
Spirit was Willie Nelson’s 1996 album released on Island, an album that was different than his previous records.
Pool, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 1998
In 1998, Willie Nelson released Teatro, a successful record that peaked at No. 17 on the Top Country Albums chart. He also received the Kennedy Center Honors this year.
Gabe Palacio, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2001
2001 was a devastating year for America, with the Sept. 11 attacks. Following them, Nelson was a part of America: A Tribute to Heroes, a telethon. He led “America the Beautiful.”
George De Sota, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2002
Willie Nelson proclaimed his love for meat in 2002 when he became the spokesperson for Texas Roadhouse. Some of their locations even included a Willie’s Corner, dedicated to the singer. “Mendocino County Line” was also one of his singles this year — a duet with Lee Ann Womack.
Willie Nelson, 2003
Nelson released his memoir in 2003 titled The Facts of Life: And Other Dirty Jokes. This year was also the year Toby Keith released his successful single with Nelson titled “Beer For My Horses.” He was also on Ringo Starr’s album this year.
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2004
Willie Nelson shared an ACM Award win with Toby Keith in 2004 when they took home best video for “Beer for My Horses.” He did have a little down time in 2004 when he had surgery for carpal tunnel, due to his guitar playing.
Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2005
Willie Nelson had a jam-packed 2005. He headlined the Tsunami Relief Austin to Asia concert and him and his family hosted the inaugural Willie Nelson & NORML Benefit Golf Tournament. Nelson had worked with NORML for years to fight for marijuana legalization.
Evan Agostini, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2006
2006 brought more legal trouble for Nelson. He was arrested in Louisiana for marijuana possession yet again as well as the possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He also published his third book, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart.
Jeff Gentner, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2008
Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008 — a huge honor for the track. He also published another book this year titled, A Tale Out of Luck, as well as reopened his truck stop, Willie’s Place. The truck stop is located in Texas.
Ian Gavan, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2010
2010 brought Country Music and it went into the Top 5 Billboard Country Albums. He was once again arrested for marijuana this year, which prompted him to create the TeaPot party, which strives to legalize pot and tax it. Austin, Texas also honored Nelson this year by naming a street after him.
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2011
In 2011 Willie Nelson was granted several honors. He was nominated for a Grammy this year for his album Country Music, and he was also inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame for his work with Farm AId.
Jason Kempin, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2012
Nelson signed with Legacy Records in 2012. He also released a new autobiography titled Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road. Austin also unveiled their statue of Nelson this year.
Willie Nelson, 2013
To All the Girls was released in 2013 on Legacy. It was a record full of duets with important female singers, including Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Loretta Lynn and several others. This same year he got an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.
Jason Merritt, Getty images
Willie Nelson, 2014
2014 brought Band of Brothers, which topped the charts. This year also marked the 20th anniversary of him practicing Korean martial arts, so he earned his fifth-degree black belt. He also sold his braids in 2014 for over $30,000.
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images
Willie Nelson, 2015
Nelson released another autobiography in 2015. In this photo, he’s at a signing for It’s a Long Story: My Life. He also underwent a stem cell procedure this year in hopes that it would improve his lungs. Most importantly this year, though, he was awarded the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress.
Ed was a pessimist.
He said, “With all the crime in this city, I’m scared something will happen to it.
I never owned anything this expensive before.”
“Think only positive thoughts”, Denver said,
“and nothing bad can happen to your car.
Ed said, “You think you can do anything if you believe it?”
Omlit said, “You’re reality is a product of your thoughts.”
Ed was thinking a violent thought about Denver right then.
“OK. Let’s see you fly”, said Ed.
“I don’t want to fly”, said Denver.
“But you could, if you set your mind to it, right?”
“Yes, definitely. You are what you think”, said Denver.
“Then prove it, bigmouth!” said Ed.
The optimist wasn’t around for several days,
and then he was seen on the roof of their seventeen story building,
carrying out several large items toward the 47th Street side.
The items were: two light-weight balsa surfboards,
a large cardboard carton,
and a garbage bag with something lumpy in it.
He took a can of quick drying spray glue from the bag,
and sprayed both sides of the boards.
Then he dipped the boards into the box one-by-one,
and brought them out covered with feathers.
He leaned the boards on the foot high wall at the roof’s edge,
and while they dried
he got some other equipment from the box…
a football helmet, goggles, and two rolls of industrial duct tape.
He put on the helmet and goggles first,
because according to his plan it would be difficult later.
A crowd was gathering down on the street.
He turned back toward the roof entrance door and clapped his hands twice.
Three musicians came out,
carrying a bass drum, an accordion, and a police whistle.
They gave a raggedy fanfare as a young lady in a bathing suit twirled out,
did a circus curtsy like a magician’s assistant,
and began duct taping the feathery wings to Denver’s arms.
The bass drum beat slowly to raise the suspense.
From the garbage bag, the assistant retrieved a bullhorn,
and held it to Denver Omlit’s mouth as he spoke to the crowd below.
“If a bird can do it with a brain the size of a pea,
I can do it with my wonderful walnut of a brain.
I believe with all my heart that I can fly.”
He spread his wings with a flourish and stepped off the roof.
As he fell straight down he pep-talked himself.
“I can do it! I can soar like a mink!”
He looked down and saw the flagpole on the 14th floor.
It was coming at him right between the legs.
He hit it like a wishbone and the flag staff broke off
and started falling with him.
“Embrace the pain”, he shouted! “The pain is our friend!”
At the tenth floor his pants caught on a window air conditioner,
ripped off, and flew away.
“Ah, that breeze feels good”, he yelled!
The flagpole and the air conditioner had slowed his descent slightly,
and he imagined he had planned it that way.
At the fifth floor, the optimist said “So far, so good.”
The updraft was gathering under his football helmet,
causing a slight parachute effect.
He hit a small window awning on the third floor,
and then the big awning at the street entrance to the building.
It became a trampoline that bounced him toward the street,
where Ed’s Corvette convertible was parked… with the top up.
The convertible top crushed nicely,
affording Denver a comfortable landing in the red leather upholstery.
The above account is reported here
as it was presented at Ed’s trial for attacking the optimist.
When Denver testified from his wheelchair
that he was thankful because he would soon walk better than ever,
Ed had to be restrained.
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan…
© Jack Blanchard,© 2007, 2012, 2019
In a night bursting with great music, ABC’s American Idol host Ryan Seacrest didn’t waste a milli-second opening the show with a simple, “Ladies and gentlemen, Lionel Richie.” Belting out “Dancing on the Ceiling” with Bobby Bones hot on his heels, Lionel was joined by Idol’s season 17 Top 10, many we haven’t seen in weeks, but who would also be showcased in performances throughout the night. Last season’s winner, Maddie Poppe, also returned to the Idol stage for a catch-up visit with Ryan and announcing that she had just released her album. Of course, the focus was on the Top 3 contestants: Laine Hardy, Madison VanDenburg, and Alejandro Aranda. Each of the finalists performed two solo songs of their choosing. Between rounds, viewers got a look into the lives of the rising stars as they returned to their hometowns and visited with friends and family. While each visit showed incredible local support for their contestants, it also revealed overwhelming emotions that the aspiring young stars were feeling.
LAINE HARDY (18) – Livingston, Louisiana
“Home” by Marc Broussard
KATY PERRY: “If you apply yourself like you’ve applied yourself for the next five years, every single week and don’t get lazy, you’re going to be one of the biggest stars on this planet.”
“Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by Hank Williams Sr.
LIONEL: “Let me tell you what’s a big deal—when the governor of the state says ‘party with the Hardy.’ You’re on your way.”
MADISON VANDENBURG (17) – Cohoes, New York
“Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
LUKE: “You know what’s so exciting is your growth, and we have been pushing you the whole time to dig in and show the world what kind of next level voice you have. It’s been so amazing to watch and you have the twinkle in your eyes that is so beautiful to see.”
“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
KATY: “Madison, you have come so far and I think you just have to continue to nurture and grow this gift you’ve been given because it’s amazing to see this growth. This is just like a master class, it’s a condensed version of what the real world is. And you’re about to spread your wings in the real world, but just keep this work ethic and you’re going to fly so far.”
ALEJANDRO ARANDA (25) – Pomona, California
“Millennial Love” – original
LUKE BRYAN: “I think in life you have those moments where you remember the first time you met somebody or saw somebody, and back in October I’ll never forget the first time I met Alejandro. We have been spoiled by you, week after week, and I want to thank you for that. We love you, we love you from the bottom of our hearts.”
“Tonight” – original
LIONEL: “Throughout this entire process, we’ve watched you try to identify with a place called ‘home.’ And after watching you return back to your hometown, welcome home to the business and welcome home to your heart, my friend.”
After their solo performances, the first elimination took place leaving just two to compete for the win. And the first artist sent home was Madison VanDenburg. Before the winner was announced, both Laine and Alejandro got one final performance.
LAINE – “Bring It On Home” by Sam Cooke
LUKE: “Laine, congrats man. From when I heard you last year, the tone in your voice is just something special and you can’t teach that. Always remember that you’ve just got that tone that is so identifiable. Congratulations. This is the last time I will ever get to comment on you and I love you, bud.”
ALEJANDRO – “Out Loud” original
KATY: “It’s just such an incredible honor to be given this opportunity to be able to give you a little boost for you to find your wings. I think I can speak for all of us, we love what we do and we love when we see a person like yourself shine.”
AND THE WINNER IS: Laine Hardy!
Longtime fans of American Idol will remember that Laine originally auditioned for season 16 of the show, and as much as the judges loved him, he didn’t advance past the Top 50. Then, for season 17, he arrived at the auditions as an accompanist for a friend with no intention of auditioning himself. After he was recognized by Luke and Katy, he gave an impromptu performance and earned a golden ticket to Hollywood. Congratulations to Laine, Alejandro, Madison, and all of these talented young people who have the potential for stardom.
Carrie Underwood – “Southbound”
Montell Jordan with Margie Mays, Austin Michael Robinson and VoKillz with – “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan
Katy Perry and Daddy Yankee – “Con Calma” by Daddy Yankee
Alejandro Aranda with backing orchestra – “10 Years” – original
Adam Lambert – “New Eyes”
Adam Lambert with Dimitrius Graham – “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Dan + Shay – “All To Myself”
Dan + Shay with Madison VanDenburg – “Speechless” and “All To Myself” by Dan + Shay
Luke Bryan – “Knockin’ Boots”
Luke Bryan with Laci Kaye Booth – “Every Breath You Take” by the Police
Jon Pardi with Laine Hardy – “Dirt On My Boots” and “Night Shift” both by Jon Pardi
Katy Perry with Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon – “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
Weezer with Wade Cota and Walker Burroughs – “Africa” by Toto, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears, “Take On Me” by A-ha medley
Morgan Evans was already a star in his native Australia when he crossed two oceans to bring his talents to America. He begins a new life chapter by taking his life experience and turning it into 11 personal songs on his new album, Things That We Drink To.
There’s a youthful, vibrant spirit that runs throughout album in a way that feels celebratory. You feel this on the opening track “American,” a song that turns his coast-to-coast exploration of the place he calls his new home into lyrics, from the red sunset in California to the streets of New Orleans, all expressed over a sunny pop-country melody. This same energy is present on “We Dream” where Evans calls on a chorus of singers to help him share the message that no matter what corner of the world you live in, we all use our dreams to break out of the constrictions placed upon us. “When we look at the world and we don’t like what we see, we close our eyes and we dream,” he chants.
On the title track, “Things That We Drink To,” Evans digs deeper, co-penning a reflective track that was inspired in part by the sudden death of his friend and manager Rob Potts, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2017. Evans uses the song as a way to raise a tall glass to his friend, the memories he’s looking back on and all the life he’s lived in between, offering enough conviction to drive home the emotion. Another pristine track comes in the form of “Dance With Me,” which features gentle background vocals from his wife, Kelsea Ballerini and feels like the most personal moment on the album. Evans doesn’t add any flash to the sweet song, letting the honesty in their voices tell the story. “Feel my heart beat through your body to your feet, if you dance with me, hold me in the dark now until both your eyes can see,” they sing beautifully in harmony.
He rounds out the album with the equally romantic “I Do”
Though Evans constructs Things That We Drink To with common topics frequently used in country songs, he does a sound job of taking these notions and making them feel like his own. From the earnest title track to the thoughtfulness of “Dance With Me,” Evans uses the project as a way to show his growing fanbase what he’s capable of achieving – and they’re bound to want to continue growing alongside him.