She Listened To The Beatles, I Listened To Uncle Tupelo. It Was A Mixed Marriage
My ex wife and I met on the Prodigy music boards back in 1993. She asked me a question about John Wesley Harding that she already knew the answer to in hopes of striking up a conversation. I answered it wrong three times. Twenty five cents a message got kind of pricey. She suggested an “internet account”. I was working at the NPR station of my alma mater, The University Of Missouri-Kansas City. Apparently I could go to the computer department and get one of these internet accounts. The department asked what sort of research project I was doing. I decided the truth was a novel approach and told them I wanted to talk to a woman in Boston. After a department meeting, they decided that was an okay reason.
We talked more and more. We both liked The Replacements, Marshall Crenshaw and Superchunk. It seemed okay that she listened to Paul McCartney and I listened to American Music Club. I agreed to a James Taylor concert and she went to see Jimmy Buffett. One day she announced that it was time for a change. I misunderstood and bought an engagement ring. She thought it was time to move out of her parent’s attic and into an apartment. She said “yes” anyway. Our first dance at our wedding reception was to “Nils Lofgren “Shot At You”. We went to Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw concerts and it seemed like a match made in musical heaven. I pretended not to notice when she wrinkled her nose up at Marshall Tucker, The Bottle Rockets and Uncle Tupelo. I left the room when the Beatles and or Paul bootlegs played over and over again. I suggested new music. She suggested that I let her listen to Elvis, Paul Westerberg, Marshall Crenshaw or her Beatles collection and mind my own business. Soon I was sneaking out to see Wilco, Blue Rodeo, Lucinda Williams, Gov’t Mule and Derek Trucks. It didn’t seem like cheating.
The years went by and our marriage succumbed to some unfortunate sadness in trying to have children. She and my son Kevin live in New Hampshire, I live in Missouri. Kevin was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three. Something strange happened in New Hampshire while I was gone. My son found his voice in country music. He found his bliss in Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins and Dierks Bentley. A little mainstream for me but I liked the stories of him crooning “Ladies Love Country Boys” to the girls in his class. Besides, Jamey Johnson had a hand in writing “Honkytonk Badonkadonk”. But music as we all know is a very personal choice and Kevin’s personal favorite is Dierks.
I listened to my little boy who once had trouble even communicating sing me every Dierks Bentley song ever written over the phone. His mother writes a blog on autism that mentioned Kevin’s devotion to Dierks. Apparently Dierks wife Cassidy is vigilant on the internet when it comes to Dierks being mentioned. Kevin’s Mom and Cassidy struck up an email friendship. The Bentleys have been unbelievably kind to my son. They weren’t interested in any publicity and everything they did was out of the kindness of their heart. I’ll respect their privacy. I’ll just say being told how Dierks is as a person made me a fan even before “Up On The Ridge” came out or I knew he was a Cross Canadian Ragweed fan.
These days I savor the irony that a musical genre that Kevin’s Mom previously held in such disdain is now near and dear to her heart. I’m grateful that country music was the key that unlocked Kevin’s world. I’ll even cop to playing Dierks on my computer speakers so Kevin and I can sing together on the phone. Thanks, Dierks. Now if only he’d listen to Jamey Johnson. His mother hasn’t progressed that far either.