Happy 70th birthday to Ronnie Milsap!  I was sorting through some of the photos from my broadcast in Nashville a couple years back. I came across these with Ronnie Milsap. Some of you will recognize him for his big hits, including "Stranger In My House". That song was ahead of its time and I think that that song and Ronnie's story can be a lesson to not only the artists but the fans of today's Country Music as well.

It is a debate that comes up every so often. What IS Country Music? I mean what does it sound like? We have artists today that are a catalysts for controversy on this issue. The traditionalists call and voice their displeasure with certain songs and or artists because they are "not country." As a matter of fact, even Ronnie Milsap has taken some heat from his own fans. In the interview below, he told me that he was asked by fans to put out something "country" for a change.

Are you kidding me? Is there even a question that Ronnie Milsap is country?  I would have to say that if you asked 99% of the stars here in Music City who Ronnie Milsap is, they will tell you he is truly "A Legend In His Time." Granted the heavy guitar solos and thumping rock piano he is a master of, are not traditional sounds and even in the 70s and 80s their were those that called it rock and not country. However, I have recently taken a different look at my perspective on this issue. Let the lyrics solve this argument.

Ronnie with Clay (WYRK)

WORDS That Relate

What makes me and you love Country Music so much? We can RELATE. That's it. Yes the melody can be sweet. And yes I love me some steel guitar. Without the words there is nothing to grasp in the music. When Ronnie sings "Is it someone we both know or someone she just met" or "When I am holding her I swear I feel the presence of another man," I get chills. YES I have felt and experienced that. I am sure many reading, this guys and girls alike, have to! That song is one of the most "rock" country songs I have ever heard and was recorded before Taylor Swift was even a gleam in her daddy's eyes. If those lyrics are not country enough for you, how 'bout these lyrics from the song "Smokey Mountain Rain":

I can't blame her for lettin' go
A woman needs someone warm to hold
I feel the rain runnin' down my face
I'll find her no matter what it takes

I got chills just typing them! If that ain't country, I quit! It's more than just the backwoods lyrics about a dirt road or a pick up or a country girl in cut offs. YES I love those to. It is my life in a song. But today's artists can learn from Ronnie Milsap that you have to take that gamble and write from the heart and sing from the heart. I hate that record execs think they have to spoon feed fans and give them what they THINK we want to hear. Give me something I can get lost in. Give me a song that shares my pain, my heartache, my excitement! When I hear a song that I think is a hit, it means that the writer somehow had me in mind when they sat down to write it. Let me feel like I am the guy playing the part of the character in the song! That's what Country Music is and forever will be.

NOT Seeing IS Believing!

I have interviewed just about everyone on today's Country Radio. This Milsap interview blew me away and truly changed the way I think about why I love Country Music and what it is all about. You see being blind, Ronnie Milsap relies on something other than site to guide him through life. FEELING! Yes feelings. What do you feel when your hear words? What emotions do you get when the stories play out? He has never seen rain or a what a woman LOOKS like, but when he sang those lyrics...A woman needs someone warm to hold ....I feel the rain runnin' down my face...you can hear the passion and FEELING he has for that moment inside his own heart. By the way..."Smokey Mountain Rain" was one of the BIGGEST Top 40 POP songs of all time!

Here is my complete interview with Ronnie!

Ronnie and Clay (WYRK)