When I started in radio I worked 3 PM until 11 PM Monday through Saturday. I turned the radio station off at 11 PM and cleaned up the office (and related littler offices, if you know what I mean) before I left for home. Today my hours are different.
Most people start their careers as journeyman. I have read that some starting as newspaper journalists begin by writing obituaries.
I am one of those weird people who read obits and visits cemeteries from time to time. I know that this sounds morbid but visiting grave sites is like reading abbreviated biographies.
The week before Independence Day I visited Arlington National Cemetery and a local cemetery here in Morgantown, West Virginia.
There are 300,000 stories at Arlington and some of them we know. President Kennedy, the Challenger astronauts and more heroes than I could ever list here.
The cemetery here in Morgantown includes the grave of Zacquill Morgan, who founded this city. I ran across the grave of Thomas F. Brooks who was born in 1770. He died in 1836. I stood above the grave of Mr. Brooks realizing that he was born before the Revolutionary War and died before the Civil War.
That made me stop and think about our history and to appreciate what we have done for the world in those 236 years.
Then just three days ago someone who has been part of almost everyone’s history died. Andy Griffith.
We talk about six degrees of separation but it was much closer here in Morgantown. You see, Morgantown was the hometown of Don Knotts.
And then as a Country Music fan we all appreciated what Mr. Griffith contributed to another West Virginian’s body of work. “Waiting on a Woman” was a great song but a spectacular video for Brad Paisley and Andy Griffith was the reason.
Raise your hand if you have ever watched The Andy Griffith Show. Or Matlock. And don’t forget that Andy was associated with Gospel and Country Music during his early career.
I am not here to write an obituary for Andy Griffith. I could never do that and you can find one online if you want one.
But what I wanted to do is say thanks to Andy, to Jack Lameier, to Frances Preston and Donna Hilley and Rusty Walker.
It has been a tough couple of months for those of us in and around Country Music. It should make all of us think about how much of a family we all are.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)
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About the AuthorCook is currently on the board of both the ACM and the CMA and serves as Director of Programming and Brand Management for West Virginia Radio Corp, based in Morgantown, WV. He is also President of McVay/Cook and Associates, a Cleveland-based media consulting company. He has served on the CRB Board for over 20 years.
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