I heard a song this week for the first time in a long time. It brought to mind the very first time I heard it which was September 27, 2013. You might wonder how I know exactly when I heard this song for the first time. Well, there is a story about that. I realized the other day that I never wrote about it. At least I don’t THINK I wrote about it; hence the title for this post.
The song is “Ain’t It Your Birthday?” by Jonny Fritz and the In-Laws.
The words to the chorus go like this:
Hey well ain’t it your birthday?
Then why aren’t you smiling?
I just drove 250 miles
In the middle of the night
On an empty tank
Dodging deer along the way
On a central Virginia moonlit byway
Brought to you by this small town
I always thought I could come home to
Oh well I guess I was wrong
I had attended my Aunt Linda’s funeral in Indiana that late September Friday and I was driving all the way back to Dubuque, Iowa in order to attend the rest of the annual fall guild quilt retreat that weekend.
I had been driving several hours in the dark. I was tired. I was drained emotionally and physically. As always, a family funeral brings together far-flung relatives who do not see each other very often — usually just once a year or so at the holidays. It had been a good day of reminiscing and of re-connecting. I was sad, but I knew I had done the right thing in going to the funeral. I was also looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend among very dear friends being creative and relaxing. There would be much talking, laughing, eating and sewing.
I had my ipod hooked up to the car stereo and I must have had it on some kind of shuffle. This wacky country song came on. I heard the chorus. I laughed. Here I was driving over 250 miles at night (okay, it was only 9 pm — not midnight) and I had just stopped for gas. I was on a curvy, hilly country road in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin and was most definitely being cautious for deer and other night critters that might dash out in front of me.
Then it hit me. This would have been my dad’s birthday. September 27.
He loved country music. The twangier the better. The more steel guitar and sorrowful the better. He would turn the radio up really loud in the garage while he was doing his woodworking (making sawdust as he used to call it) and sing along to Johnny Cash or Ernie Ford or anybody that old country music station happened to be playing.
Though he was a marshmallow on the inside, he was not one who usually spent extra time smiling.
He also really, REALLY loved to drive. He would drive hours just to attend a high school football or basketball game, especially if one of his nephews was playing or anyone from our hometown for that matter.
So — this song surrounding me in that dark car on that lonely, long drive with family on one end and friends on the other — felt like a great big hug from my dad.
The weird part is that I had no idea where this song came from or how it came to be on my ipod.
A solo version by the same guy who is also known as Jonny Corndawg:
I later found out that this song was on a free mp3 album I had downloaded from Amazon, so it didn’t appear out of nowhere. It just seemed that way. I still like to think it was a hug from my dad and that is was sent to me on that night especially. (I checked. Amazon no longer offers this album, free or paid but you can download the song for $1.29).
From The Tromp Queen archives on related topics of quilt retreats, Dad, and being a good neighbor: