A Song in the Air
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Monday, August 28, 2017
By Austin Rese
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Anticipation was astir as the line of fellow concert attendees waited for the gates to open. We were there to experience an evening of music on the lawn of the grand Cheekwood estate in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual “Songwriters under the Stars” is an event that has very quickly become an anticipated summer tradition. Where else would an evening of such a celebration be more appropriate than “Music City” itself?


The gates opened. The crowd very quickly moved down the mulched path with its string of party lights aglow. Although it was still very much daylight, the cicadas had already begun their serenade. Yes, summer was in full swing. Shorts and sandals were still in abundance, but the angle of the sun whispered the pending change of season. After all, this is late August.



The lawn began to quickly fill with a puzzle of blankets: Attendees claiming their spot for the evening. The historic mansion’s terrace had been transformed into a stage. One could easily spot the seating for the accompanying instrumental talent: The Tin Pan Orchestra. With 3 bar stools taking center stage, there wasn’t any doubt they were for the featured attraction: Kyle Jacobs, Jessi Alexander, and Marcus Hummon. All three are very successful writers who have had their songs recorded by major stars of the country music scene.


Tonight was their night to share their story. Their inspiration. Their passion. And that, they did.



The sky began to darken and the stage lights began to glow. It was near magical. The architecture of the mansion, as well as the surrounding landscaping, was awash with color. Soon, the evening’s entertainment took their places and the overhead stars began to sparkle.


Each artist offered bits of their personal life and what inspires them to write their music. Each would sing a song that they had written with an orchestral accompaniment. It was truly spectacular!


 As a well-written song is a vehicle for a writer’s emotions, it was a very stirring evening. One of the program’s highlights was the story behind the award-winning song, “I Drive Your Truck”.--Simple title, with a very impactful meaning.


Jessi shared that it was her writing partner, Connie Harrington, who was listening to NPR on her radio as she was driving home. There was an interview in process with a father who had lost his son in the Afghanistan war. The 30 year old solider gave his life attempting to save an injured fellow soldier. The father conveyed that while he never stops thinking about his son, he drives his truck to feel closer to him. Everything within the truck being left exactly as the young man had left it.  Connie was so moved that she pulled over to make notes about the entire interview. A song needed to be written about this experience and thus, they did.


The song was recorded by Lee Brice. Tonight, Jessi sang it. The lyrics of the song allow you to be a passenger in the truck too. By the second verse, you are already feeling the father’s pain and anguish as he attempts to deal with his loss.


It didn’t take long for the crowd’s sniffling to begin. Although it was dark, I know there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.




Songwriters are the unseen doctors of our souls. They touch our lives with their words. Their courage to express their own feelings allow each of us to realize we are not alone. Human emotion is a thread that binds us all.


I laid back on my quilt and just listened. The evening’s dew began to settle and nature’s own chorus continued to play. I gazed at the stars and counted my blessings.


All-to-soon, I realized the evening was coming to a close. The crowd began to gather their belongings and slowly disappear into the night. Although the concert was not finished, I, too, folded my blanket and began to call it a day.


The same mulched path had taken on a different appearance. The party lights had become more of utility than decoration. Walking back down the hill and towards my car, I could hear the faint sounds of the final chorus and caught myself mumbling the lyrics.


This will be a night that I will remember, with or without a song in the air.



This was A Moment in America.

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