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The Town Where Everything Revolves Around... Turkey and Braille Atlas: Writing Music to Overcome Grief

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 24, 2022 3:03 am

The Town Where Everything Revolves Around... Turkey and Braille Atlas: Writing Music to Overcome Grief

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 24, 2022 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Jennie Badger tells us her story of growing up in the Turkey Capital of the World, Cuero, Texas. Cody Johnston shares how his love for music helped him cope with his mothers declining health and how it not only inspired him, but many others.

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes: 

00:00 - The Town Where Everything Revolves Around... Turkey

10:00 - Braille Atlas: Writing Music to Overcome Grief

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Vanguard Marketing Corporation distributor. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And you can go to the iHeartRadio app to get our podcast or go wherever else you might find them. Up next, we have a listener story from Jenny Badger in Texas. Jenny is going to share with us a unique small town story. Small town story about the small town she grew up in and just so happens to be the turkey capital of the world.

Here's Jenny. I was born and raised in Cuero, Texas. It has a population of about 7,000 people and it was known for its turkey farms.

So everything revolves around that. The billboards around Cuero, they not only say turkey capital of the world, they say where America talks turkey. My brother, for example, was Gobbler King in normal high schools and call that the prom king.

The football mascot is a gobbler. And I was on the dance team and I was a trotter. The high school student newspaper is called Turkey Talk. It was very normal to us, but now looking back on it, I mean, that's hilarious. There's not a lot to do there.

So, you know, you kind of almost by default get involved in the community. And every few years they would have this event called Turkey Trot. Turkey Trot was a four-day festival that was just kind of randomly held every few years.

There was no rhyme or reason to the years that it was held. And it was really to celebrate the turkey farming heritage of the town. And because Cuero was known for raising turkeys, it was always a Turkish theme.

There was always a man and a woman who reigned over the festivities. And it was the Sultan and the Sultana. So in 1972, my dad was Sultan Yekret the 14th. And Yekret is turkey spelled backwards. The woman who reigned with him, her official title was Sultana Oryuk.

And Oryuk is Cuero spelled backwards. So they reigned over Turkey Trot in 1972, and I was eight at the time. And I and my brother and sister were my father's pages. So we'd have to hold his robe at public events and stuff like that. And we were dressed in just goofy attire, you know, the upturned toe, shoes, and kind of, I mean, just as you would imagine, like a Turkish servant. And my dad, who was the small town lawyer, was a very dignified man.

He was very kind, and I always say he was like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, because he was so distinguished and well respected and never sought the spotlight, never liked to grandstand. And I mean, for four days, he wore a white suit and a red velvet robe that had a border of gold sequins and then this really big hand-beated turkey on the back of his robe. And he wandered around Cuero, you know, all weekend for different events in that attire.

He was basically the center of attention for those four days. There were coronations. There was a senior coronation and a junior coronation. And so he got to sit up on his throne during the senior coronation while all the young women of the town, you know, like the high school age and older kids, bowed before him and did this whole coronation stuff, like debutantes. But we didn't have debutantes in Cuero.

But it was the same idea, I suppose. They have a competition with a town in Minnesota. Both towns claim to be turkey capital of the world. So the two turkeys race. Ruby Begonia is the Cuero, Texas turkey that always races in Minnesota and then they come back to Cuero and race in Cuero and whoever has the best time out of both those races gets the, I think it's called the traveling trophy of tumultuous triumph.

And they get to carry that thing back and forth between Minnesota and Texas. And then it ended with a big parade with just tons of floats and marching bands from towns and cities all around. It was a huge deal. And its famous newscaster who came down in 1972 and broadcast from Cuero. It was a big deal, especially for a small town.

And of course, the entire town was there. My whole extended family, cousins and from both sides of the family. I mean, it was just this huge celebration and my cousins who came in from out of town, I remember them sleeping on the floors because we ran out of beds and I had to sleep in a cot in my parents room. It was just a big party for four days. I don't talk about it a lot. I have talked about it with people, but it sounds so insane. One of the reasons that makes it hard to explain is that it sounds a little bit, you know, like inappropriate cultural appropriation, except that I liken it to like a dramatic production where everybody's wearing a costume and playing a role for a few days. And then at the end, you know, you turn in your costume and you go home and you're enriched by it. So I just think it feels very innocent to me because of that.

It was very sad when it was all over. And I don't know if it's just a good place for turkeys to live. I don't know if it provides the ultimate habitat for them.

I don't know. But, you know, they're considered the dumbest animals in the world. I loved growing up in that environment. I loved growing up in Cuero and I was sad when that was over. So it was a lot of fun. And they still have a thing called Turkey Fest that happens every year.

But it is a very scaled down version of what Turkey Trot was. And my nephews go back every year with all their college friends. They're well out of college now, but they all make it a point to go back to Cuero for Turkey Fest.

So that is kind of hilarious looking back on it. And a great job on the production by Madison and a special thanks to Jenny Badger, a listener from Cuero, Texas. And this country is filled with small towns that have small town traditions. And I love that there were two claimants to Turkey Town, USA. One in Minnesota, one in Texas. And they battle it out.

They duke it out every year. We love telling stories about America. The America Tocqueville witnessed when he came here in the 19th century from France to study the prison system of this country. But found out this country just did stuff. Fun stuff, civic stuff. And it was the people that did it all. The story of the Turkey capital of the world.

There are some in Minnesota that may disagree. Here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns. But we truly can't do this show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button.

Give a little, give a lot. Go to OurAmericanStories.com and give. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

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Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we're back with Our American Stories. Up next, we bring you the story of Cody Johnston. Cody has been a musician throughout his life and he currently releases music under the name Braille Atlas. His love for music started at home.

Here's Cody. My mom was a country music singer locally, so not pro level by any means, but local talent shows, local clubs and things like that. She was very into that scene for quite a while and my dad has always been a closet singer.

I don't know if he wants to be putting that into the world, but I'm going to say it anyway. So, I remember car trips we used to ride and would just sing. I have old karaoke tapes of me and my mom singing together before she got a little sicker and it was a lot of fun. My love for instrumental music goes back to I can pinpoint an exact time in kindergarten. I remember I was at a baseball game and they gave away these little handheld like AM FM radios that like, I don't know, it was just the those cheap little radios you plug in some cheap headphones to and it had just a little manual dial and you can dial in some radio stations.

And pretty much the only radio station it really picked up well was the classical radio station. And I remember every time I was at school and we had rain days so we had to take recess inside I would pop my earbuds in and listen to classical music. Then it sparked my love for instrumental music, music composition and just how all that goes together. Music to me has always been one of those things where I feel it more than I even hear it. I'm one of those weird people I didn't think it was weird but apparently it's weird that like when I listen to music my heart races I get chills I can be like it causes me to sweat like it. I physically react to music. I actually have to be careful of what kind of music I consume because music can very well change my mood, even a little more so than it probably should, but music is something that moves me at a very deep level, that's actually where I got my name from Braille Atlas because to me music is a journey, and it's something that it's a journey to be felt.

It's a journey that you may not be able to physically see a map but when it unfolds before you, it takes you places. One of my earliest memories I have of like trying to play music is whenever I was a child I was in a dollar, some kind of dollar store, and they had this little flute that looked kind of like a little gourd, or a little potato, and it was called an ocarina. It was just a cheap little party favor but I bought it and I thought it was super cool, and as most 90s, early 2000s kid will remember, just a few weeks later I was at Best Buy and they had those awesome demos, and there was a Nintendo 64 and that same flute was on the cover of one of those games. So that's kind of what bridged into the whole loving video game music and like film score music and all that, and that was The Legend of Zelda, and so I started playing this demo, I fell in love with that instrument even more, but as I grew up I never really thought about pursuing music. Fast forward till I was 13, actually I think I was 12, it was Christmas when I was 12, I was about to turn 13 that next year, and my dad was with my cousin who was in a heavy, he wasn't heavy metal, I guess like a pop punk band that was about to be signed, and so he was about to go off with them and everything. And my dad's like, man I love that you can play this music and everything, I want to give my son that opportunity, so they went down to Guitar Center and bought this blue squire hanging on my wall, and was like hey it's a cheap guitar but it's something to start out on if he wants to do it, if not it's something we can sell later.

Well it sat in my room for about a year until one day I was bored out of my mind and picked it up, I went to about.com, which was about as fancy as it came at the time, and started learning basic, basic, basic guitar stuff, and through the years I've just picked up more instruments and more things along the way, and it's grown from there. Once I started playing guitar, I got heavily involved in my church, which I was, my mom progressed over, when her mom passed away she didn't really deal with her depression of losing her mom at a younger age, and it pushed her into alcoholism, and as she kind of pushed into that I pushed more into the church and into music as my escape. So at the age of 15, so just a couple years after I started kind of playing by myself in my room, I joined up with a youth group, and then we ended up starting a local band that did some touring around playing like Christian rock and stuff like that, we traveled to a bunch of churches in like the southern area, and really introduced a bunch of older people who have no idea what Christian rock was into rock music, and some of them loved it and some of them hated it, but it was fun. No matter what, and I started doing worship team stuff had a couple weird experiences where I ended up having to kind of lay music down for a little while I actually had an experience where the church that I was at. My dad had noticed that I wasn't being like I guess my, my guitar wasn't playing through the amp or through this the house system.

And he had asked the sound guy why that was so he's like you know he's been up there for a year playing like he's good enough what's going on. And the sound guy basically told us that I was up there to keep the youth happy, not to actually be heard, because their church didn't like that type of music. So I actually got really mad at music in general at God, whatever you want to call it. And at the age of I want to say that happened when I was 16 about to be 17 I laid music down for a year.

Well within a year, I guess after that situation I guess I got over that bitterness and ended up stepping back up onto a new church's team and I led there for seven and a half years. And so that really gave me the opportunity to play with some amazing musicians. They had a very diverse background everyone from an organ player at an old timey church to a rocker who used to have he was stationed in Japan or Korea I'm not sure which one he used to play bagpipes.

Like with them and they like he would play guitar and bagpipes for other, I guess, soldiers overseas. We had a guy who was just in like a death metal band like we had all this like wide range there was a jazz drummer that we had like a very wide mix and I learned a lot of different styles of music, and it taught me a ton about music composition and how different instruments can work together and that really started honing my, my love for more dynamic music again it started bringing back those memories. Of whenever I was younger, and then it all kind of happened to where I ended up leaving my position there.

And right after I left. I lost my voice completely I was that was the lead worship pastor so I did all the singing all the music, you know, getting everything together. I played guitar and saying simultaneously. Well I guess when I stepped out I had just fried my voice, and so I ended up going to doctors like I could speak for about 10 minutes and then I would go horse. I couldn't sing I lost about half of my range and singing. And it, it wrecked me because a I felt like this was my purpose in life I mean music is by and far like my biggest passion in life. And I had done it on a, you know, I guess it was my, my thing I did for seven and a half years even before that I mean I was in the band and everything but this was my job for seven and a half years. And when I lost my voice I was like what worth do I have now, what, what value can I bring how am I supposed to fulfill what I truly believe is my purpose.

If I can't use my voice. And then you're listening to Cody Johnston telling the story of his passion for music, which started with the transistor radio, and the only signal he could clear on that little transistor radio was a classical music station. And from there, my goodness, I physically react to music, it can change my mood. It takes me places. And of course, he takes the place it takes him is to churches and worship music. And there's no finer music in the country than some of the great worship music in America. And as Augustine once said when we sing we pray twice. You know he had learned he couldn't sing anymore he'd lost his voice what worth do I have. When we come back we're going to find out the answer to that question.

The Cody Johnston's question here on our American story. American millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15, through December 7, if you're working past age 65, you might be eligible to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage, it can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be visit UHC Medicare health plans.com to learn more UnitedHealthcare helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop buffer small business insurance. I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business days piping hot.

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Just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we're back with our American stories and the story of Cody Johnston. When we last left off Cody had just given up his job of seven years as a worship leader at a church. And for some unknown reason, he lost his voice and in a way, his sense of purpose.

Let's go back to Cody. So I went to a lot of doctors, there's nothing wrong, no one can find anything wrong. It was just simply that I was stressed out and my voice was completely stressed and basically the advice that was given to me was quit singing, quit speaking, quit doing all the things that you've been doing for so long and give yourself time to rest. And I had always been a guitar player by nature. That was just kind of my my main instrument, but I had recently picked up a couple of other strange instruments. I picked up a mandolin secondhand. I had a keyboard and I was drumming a little bit just for the fun of it. And so I sat down and I got behind my little piano that I had and I started poking around at some keys, and I realized that I actually could use instruments to take people places just in an even deeper way than I could with my voice alone because vocals and, you know, I love music with singing, of course, like there's nothing wrong with that at all.

But there's something about someone telling you where to go versus someone laying out the map and allowing you to pick your destination. And I just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the idea of presenting someone an atlas versus giving them a turn by turn navigation of where I wanted them to go. And, you know, I had a passion for worship music, but it was very much me telling people what they should be feeling. This type of music gave me that ability to sit down and say, wow, music in general or life in general is so much more unrestricted than I thought it was before. And there's so many different places that I can now go and explore. And as for the tie back to video game music, you know, one of the things I loved was how a lot of older video game music, they only had so much data to work with. So these instruments weren't polished and perfect.

They're very digitally and kind of, you know, honestly what we would consider crappy sounding. And, you know, after you kind of sit there with them for a while, you're like, wow, you can do a whole lot with a whole little. And so just all of that just kind of poured back in. And you could say that I almost found my second voice through it. So my mom's relationship reminded my mother's relationship with music is interesting because music was also something that she held common with her mother. My grandmother passed away whenever I think I was only three. And when she did, it caused my mom to slowly over time started distancing.

And my mother struggled with alcoholism all the way up until it took her life in twenty eighteen. And I can remember that as my mom progressed in her in her addiction, that music became something that she would fall back to a lot. And so the way a lot of my early musical career being on stages and things like that, I think, gave my mom the ability to vicariously live those memories again through me. And music was one of those things where if she was in the mindset of singing, if she was wanting to be that person, like it brought back who she was before her stage of grief that led her into her illness.

And so I think even up until I can remember, maybe four or five years ago, pulling out old tapes with her and listening to her singing and singing along with her in these little moments. It's almost like someone going through dementia in the sense of she has started losing pieces of herself to the addiction as it got worse and worse. But there are these little glimmers almost like bringing her back to who I knew her as as a child.

And it was honestly one of the few things as it progressed because things got messy. And as it progressed, she very much started pulling away and alcoholism is very isolating because you push people away because they can't take the pain and the torment and the verbal abuse that you spew out under the influence of so much of certain substances. But in the same time, it's very isolating and it draws you deeper into yourself where you get very lonely. And music was the one thing that kind of helped pull her out of that. And before we lost her to alcoholism, honestly, music was one of the few pieces of conversation that I could still have with my mother that was normal.

And I'm sure in a lot of ways it has fueled my desire because I saw the power that it held to help someone in an emotional state. Actually, when my mother passed away in 2018, the first thing I did was I went and sat behind my piano and started writing. And it was very difficult, but I have an entire five song EP dedicated to the anxiety, the clinical anxiety. I was in therapy for a little over a year just having panic attacks and just straight up stressed out because that whole year was crazy as is on top of losing my mother and all the stuff that went with that.

But I literally just wrote down what I was feeling in music. There was this time when my mother came to visit my grandparents, her biological father and stepmom. And my grandfather was an alcoholic as well in his younger days, so he related very deeply to my mom. And she had been drinking a little. She had a bad tendency of drinking and driving. It was one of the most frustrating elements of her drinking later on in life. But she had came over and my grandmother, her stepmother, she had found this tape of them singing.

I don't even know how long ago it was. And they were trying to find an old cassette player to play it. And of course, my mom wasn't really having it. She was just kind of to herself to it and everything.

And she was in a pretty rough mood that day, if I remember right. And my grandfather dug out this old cassette player and popped it in. And it was the recording.

And I was just, gosh, I was a child. And I was on the recording, like encouraging them, like sing this song, sing this song. And my mom and grandmother had these two mics in this old karaoke. And I can actually, strangely enough, vividly remember them recording it.

I was very young when they did. And this is, you know, fast forward to whenever I'm an adult that they're going and showing and listening to this again. But it's like that memory is flooded back. And before you know it, they're all in the living room having this karaoke session for the next hour and a half, singing these old hymns and these old country songs that I couldn't even remember the name of all of them because it's not my style anymore.

But I can just, you know, remember like Patsy Cline and all these other like older country artists that they're just like belting out in the most like stereotypical Southern twang fashion ever. And before the night was over, they were laughing and cutting up. And it was like having the few memories I have of my mom before she started going down.

It's like I said, I was I was three when she started whenever her her mother passed away and the few memories I have of her being normal in that moment. It really it came back. And you've been listening to Cody Johnston and what a story he's telling about the power of music. He learned he couldn't sing. He'd lost his voice and he needed to rest. And what he did instead was pick up a guitar and start to play the keyboards. I almost found my second voice through that experience. Well, that's happened to a lot of us, hasn't it?

A career change, something else like it. And then we learn about his mom and the struggle with addiction and alcoholism and then the power of music to resuscitate little parts of her. We learn that and some Alzheimer's stories we did where Alzheimer patients would hear a song and it would stir some past memory and emotion. When we come back, more of this remarkable piece of storytelling about the power of music and so much more.

Cody Johnston story continues here on our American stories. Soon, millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible. Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we're back with our American stories and the final portion of Cody Johnston's story. Cody was just talking about his mother who struggled with alcoholism and eventually succumbed to it.

Now back to Cody on how we dealt with it and found peace in writing and composing music during that difficult time. So I know I was probably a late teen. I was living with my grandmother at the time. I had moved out because of my mother's drinking and it just things had gotten a little out of control there.

And so I had moved in with my grandmother. And I remember I have a picture of it somewhere. I had an old MacBook that was, I did all my schooling and stuff on for whenever I was younger. And I had GarageBand, which is I think a lot of the ways a lot of us start, right?

It had the things to start and I had this cheap like 32 key M-Audio MIDI keyboard that was like 30 bucks or whatever, but it worked. And I realized, hey, you can plug this thing up and make music through your computer. And I didn't know anything about audio at the time. I had just started learning some, I guess it was probably a year after that I started even learning because I started getting into the podcasting sphere. But I didn't know what recording, I didn't know like gain, compression, expansion, dynamics, all that stuff.

I had no idea. Like I just remember sitting down and poking around on the keys. There was like all these different cool sound effects and I just kind of started putting them together.

And I want to say 2014 or 2015, somewhere in there, I started really writing instrumental music. And I remember I had my laptop and I had just a white folding table. That was my desk because I had just moved in with my grandmother's house. I had no furniture or anything. There was just a bed in there and a nightstand.

I sat my laptop right on top of that and I have a picture of it with just this window mounted AC unit in my little laptop. With just this keyboard and this like cheap pair of like $20 over the ear headphones. And that's how I started. And I kind of self-taught most of my audio stuff too. I took a course online. And for two summers I spent about, what was it, 100 hours of coursework just learning the basics. And for hours upon hours for two years I just consumed, consumed information. Actually went through the entire course twice just because I missed a few key things along the way. And that's, over time I slowly started building my understanding of how to do music production.

Which is kind of what led me to 2018. Whenever I put, I really started sitting down and writing down my emotions more. And then ultimately losing my mother just to try to capture my emotion. As I kind of grew with it, it was really a way to express my emotions and ultimately give people that avenue as well.

I don't really know what sparked me to do it. I remember that I sat down with a microphone literally the next day my mom died and just recorded my thoughts. I sat down and recorded it verbally so I could get it out there.

And then right after her funeral is whenever I started writing. And if I remember right, I was looking at my wife and I was like, I've got to do something to get this out of my head. And so I sat down and I just started playing this note.

And I don't even remember it really being something that I had to try very hard at. It was just something that I literally laid my hands down on the piano and that's what came out. I remember just like playing this minor kind of progression in a flat key. And it was just like this dark sounding thing and I'm like, this is how I feel. Like right now, this is what I'm feeling. And the track is actually as it progresses, it gets very dark and it has a very sinister overtone to it. And I'm like, I don't know how to describe and I let my wife listen to it and I'm like, this is what I'm feeling right now. And as I listened to it back, I started crying. And I realized like, wow, this is exactly like this is like the echoey, just this dark, this weight I guess is the best way to call it.

Just pushing down on me that I don't know how to get free of. And this was a random second piece to that, but I was actually out doing some yard work and I saw around. So we live on about an acre and a quarter of land on a five acre plot, which my grandparents live next door to us. And so there's this barbed wire fence that goes like just this thin cattle fence that goes all the way around the property. And I remember as I was doing this yard work, I saw this, I want to say it was a cardinal, fly down and just land on that barbed wire fence. And this is like, seems like such a strange realization to me, but I watched it land on this fence and perfectly land between the pegs of the barbed wire. And it just came flying in and landed quickly. And I just kind of stopped what I was doing and I was like, this bird has no understanding of what it means to feel captive. You know, it lands perfectly between two potentially harmful objects unscathed, uses it as it for its own benefit and then just leaves on its own whim.

And that's actually what started the second track of that EP, which is actually called The Bird on the Barbed Wire Boundary. And it was this realization of I could be that. I don't have to be weighed down by my thoughts. They don't have to hold me prisoner.

I can walk right past them unscathed. And I don't know how to do that, but I truly believe it's possible. And I started just writing this this melody that supersedes, it bleeds out of this first dark, sinister sound to realize, like, wait, I don't have to let this be my wife. I can I can pursue being free of these thoughts, whatever that looks like, and understanding that there's work that goes into that. There's mental work. There's preparation.

It's not an on off switch. But that was like that glimmer of hope which sparked the other three songs of actually the journey itself of progressing through it. And over the course of that year, when I would have these little revelations through therapy and through just quiet prayer and meditation and talking with friends and talking with my wife, you know, and crying and laughing and all these different things. I would sit down and I would poke little pieces of this melody out as it as it went along. And I ended up putting that on the shelf come 2019. I laid it on the shelf and I just I wanted to put it out, but I couldn't finish it. For some reason, I could not get to the place of finishing this album.

And I tried. There was a few times I would sit down and I would try actually told the world that I was putting it out by 2019 around Halloween because it had kind of that that October vibe to me. And I told people I was gonna do it and it just it came and went and I just I couldn't get that piece in myself to know it was time. So 2020 rolls around and that EP.

I was looking at October again. I'm like, I feel like it's time. And so I sat down in the very last track, which is called the breath and the burial. I realized I was like I had a place now where mentally I'm stronger than I was and I'm at a deeper peace.

And it's like I finally been able to breathe and I can finally lay this to rest. And so I sat down with just a basic melody that I had. I think I had a very was actually kind of funny.

The original melody I had for was kind of fast paced and aggressive. And it just never sat right with me because it just didn't feel like it had room to breathe. And it was very against my own mantra of knowing when not to play. It was just crowded and messy. And I realized like that's just that that's why I could never get this out because I was still crowded and messy. I needed to come to a place of having some kind of, I guess, control over my mindset to be able to finish this. And I sat down, I erased everything but the basic few starting notes and it just came naturally and it flowed.

And within a few days I had this this draft up and then I went through and was able to kind of package this all together and put it out into the world and feel confident about it. And to my amazement, thousands of people messaged me saying this is exactly what I feel. This is how I feel it. And it almost in a way like it's it brings me to that place. But on the precipice of realizing I'm not alone and now I can face it. And I've gotten countless messages of that in a way that I never imagined. And I was, I guess, flabbergasted?

Is that the right word? I was blown away because I wrote this to try to encompass my emotions and it's like my heart. And anytime you put your heart out there, it's it's terrifying.

It's scary. And unlike anything else, this specific piece, I'd released 30 something other tracks this year prior to that. But releasing this one album, it made me realize that I had found my voice again. Terrific job on the storytelling by Robbie Davis and the production. And a special thanks to Cody Johnston for sharing his grief and how he coped with it through his music. And by the way, some of the music in this piece is Cody's who writes under the name Braille Atlas. The day after my mom died, he said, I recorded my thoughts as I listened to what I played. I started crying. It represented the weight I couldn't get away from. This story is about so much more about the power of art and music to build bridges, to help us cope with pain, to transcend time and to allow us all to approach hopefulness and heaven itself. Cody Johnston's story here on Our American Story.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 16:58:26 / 2023-02-16 17:15:20 / 17

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