One of his most popular songs, Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine, is the story of an old janitor sweeping a barroom floor, and stopping to share his life philosophy with a patron who was still around at closing time. The lyrics:
"How old do you think I am?" he said.
I said, well, I didn't know.
He said, "I turned 65 about 11 months ago."
I was sittin' in Miami pourin' blended whiskey down
When this old gray Black gentleman was cleanin' up the lounge
There wasn't anyone around 'cept this old man and me
The guy who ran the bar was watchin' "Ironsides" on TV
Uninvited, he sat down and opened up his mind
On old dogs and children and watermelon wine
"Ever had a drink of watermelon wine?" he asked
He told me all about it, though I didn't answer back
"Ain't but three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime,
But old dogs and children and watermelon wine."
He said, "Women think about they-selves, when menfolk ain't around.
And friends are hard to find when they discover that you're down."
He said, "I tried it all when I was young and in my natural prime;
Now it's old dogs and children and watermelon wine."
"Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes;
God bless little children while they're still too young to hate."
When he moved away I found my pen and copied down that line
'Bout old dogs and children and watermelon wine.
I had to catch a plane up to Atlanta that next day
As I left for my room I saw him pickin' up my change
That night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime
Of old dogs and children and watermelon wine.
We all have different ideas about what's important and what's not in our lives. This song suggests another way of thinking about and articulating them.
- What are the three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime as far as you are concerned?
- How are you making sure these things are getting the time and attention they deserve?
- What are the three things in this world that ain't worth a solitary dime?
- How are you making sure these things aren't getting more of your time and attention than they deserve?
"If I should die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: the only proof he needed for the existence of God is music." - Kurt Vonnegut
"There is a general place in your brain, I think, reserved for 'melancholy of relationships past.' It grows and prospers as life progresses, forcing you finally, against your better judgment, to listen to country music." - Kary Mullis, Nobel Prize lecture, Dec. 8, 1993
"Country songs have always told the best stories and no one -- really, no one -- has ever done it better than Nashville. All my life I've admired guitarists like Chet Atkins and Roy Clark who touched me through their sound, but it was those Nashville songwriters who got to me through their words." - B.B. King, blues guitarist and singer-songwriter