My father was an interesting character. Started his life by losing his mother when he was 9, went to work in the coal mines of East Tennessee as a young teenager, off to WWII at 18 (barely), back to the coal mines.
At some point, he’d had enough. Enough of 14-18 hour work days in the dirty mine, being paid in scrip that was only good at the company store, and he saw no way out.
He heard about this magical town in Indiana called Muncie, where union factory jobs were plentiful. Muncie had factories owned by Borg Warner, Chevrolet, Delco Battery, and several more. So he packed up, headed north and never looked back.
He spent the rest of his working life in the Borg Warner factory, and at times I wonder if he regretted leaving those beautiful hills of East Tennessee.
To make a long story short, it took me a LONG time to write this song. My father and I had a relationship that was more than a little rocky, and I’ve often heard that the hardest songs to write are about the ones closest to you, and that was certainly the case here.
My father’s life didn’t have a happy ending. He worked hard all his life, retired, found out he had terminal cancer a week after that, and was gone a few short weeks after.
This song was so difficult to write because I didn’t want it to have an unhappy ending. After having worked on it for months, I called on my good friend and fellow songwriter Grant McClintock, and he helped me finish it.
You know, we never really know which was our road might go, so I hope his ultimately led him to sitting on a peaceful hilltop in whatever the heavenly version of Tennessee is.
So, there you have it. And, if you’re interested, here’s the song.