Wives Of Singers, Songwriters And Military Men
Sweet Music Man By Kenny Rogers, A Tribute To Elvis
There Must Be A Special Place In Heaven For Wives Of Singers and Songwriters
After going to a show here in Las Vegas for a while now known as "Nashville Unplugged" I had a thought last time we were there. It would take a very special person to be the wife (or spouse) of a singer or songwriter. If you were with the artist "before they were...(whoever they are now)" you would know and love that person for who they are, not because of their fame or notoriety.
Nashville Unplugged is a show that comes to Las Vegas about every week, and it features one or two singer/songwriters. Brian McComas and Aaron Benward are the hosts of Nashville Unplugged here in Las Vegas, and they also host a Saturday morning radio show with the same name. Brian had some success with a pretty big hit called "99.9 Percent Sure" (I've never been here before). Aaron was a part of a group known as "Blue County" and had some hits such as "That's Cool" a song about things that are "cool" like when a child first learns how to sing.
These guys are both very charismatic and put on an excellent show. And, when they come here, they bring along other singer/songwriters and feature them onstage. The concept of the show is based on events that go on all over Nashville known as "guitar pulls." They take turns playing and singing their hits, and hits they have written songs for well known artists.
We've seen so many wonderful songwriters in these shows, including Tia Sellers who wrote a very famous song for Lee Ann Womack called "I Hope You Dance." (And her name is actually Sillers, but so many people spell it wrong, especially when searching the Internet, that most authors of articles spell her name Sellers).
One Friday night, we saw a guy named Earl Bud Lee who wrote "Friends In Low Places" for Garth Brooks. While Earl was there, he introduced his "significant other"... not sure if she was his girlfriend or his wife, but they seemed to really be close.
A few of the other songwriters would introduce their wives and girlfriends as well, and each time they would talk about what a crazy business the music business is. A young couple starts out, not a penny to their name, and they move to a place like Nashville with hopes of making it big. The reality of it is that many of them never do that.
The ones that DO make it big have exceptional talent, and usually have something special and charismatic about them (sometimes called "star quality") and they usually possess a quality to their voice that makes them uniquely stand out from all the others. The songwriters who make it big usually have a brilliant "idea" that sometimes they are not even sure whether it IS a good idea, then a singer records it and BAM, it becomes a hit! Normally, it is not that easy, however.
All along, wives live with these guys, and many times she has the job that is the main source of support for the family until the "big hit" or record deal comes along. I cannot imagine the strength of character it must take to lovingly stay with these guys and be so supportive of them, when there is always the chance that it may not work out, they might not make it. The music business is very competitive and a very tough business to have success in.
I can't imagine working day to day, not knowing whether or not there will be any income from the singing and songwriting career, and still believing in their singer songwriter that they love so much, believing in their talent and that they will someday make it.
And then when a singer/songwriter DOES make it big... the problems become even bigger. Now there may be plenty of money, but the "star" is so busy, out on the road, waking up every day in a different city, while she is at home keeping the home fires burning and caring for any children that have come along. All of a sudden, this guy she knew "before" from high school or just before the career... has now become "famous" and has fans clamoring at his feet.
All I can say is, it must be such a bizarre experience. I have compared being the wife of a singer/songwriter to being a military wife (which I was for 20 years) - never knowing if you would have to raise the kids alone for a while, when he is out "conquering the world." That's why I say that there must be a special place in heaven for wives of singers and songwriters (and for military wives, too).
It takes an exceptionally organized person and a person that can adapt very easily to ANY situation to do this. In the case of singer/songwriters, one day you could be all dressed up at some fancy awards show, the next day, you are cleaning baby puke off of the floor while he is out touring radio stations pushing the newest single or new album.
All of this while never knowing if the success is going to continue, or whether one day it will suddenly stop almost as quickly as it started. Now I use the example of "him" being the successful singer and "her" being the supportive one, but it can just as easily be the other way around when it comes to female singers. I just use "he" as a reference for this writing.
To keep a career going for years and decades is a pretty rare thing in the business of singing and songwriting, and it IS a business.It is a cut-throat business according to many songwriters and singers, and one that is not for the faint of heart. There is a LOT of rejection involved in the business, and they must have a thick skin to deal with it, along with an exceptional belief in themselves and their talent.
I look at wives of singers and songwriters and believe that they are the anchors that help to keep them grounded and they also try to keep them away from the array of temptations that are suddenly available. We've all heard of all of the singers gone too soon because of giving in to the temptations of drugs and alcohol (just to name two of those temptations).
And in the case of George Jones, I fully believe that his current wife, Nancy, pulled him up out of a terribly dark place of despair and that SHE is the reason he is still here and free from drugs and alcohol and still with us beyond age 80. I don't think he would have made it this long without her strong, unfailing belief in him, combined with extraordinary love and support.
In the case of military wives, the separations can last for months or even years and the adjustment when he is finally back home can initially be difficult. We were lucky in that we were never separated for longer than six weeks and that was when my husband was in a military school for that length of time. We were blessed in that he was able to be home most of the time. He went to work in the morning and came home in the evening like he would have in a civilian job. But I realize that was the exception.
So, to all of the wives and significant others that live with these artists and songwriters, I take my hat off to you. I know how difficult it is, and I can only imagine how wonderfully sweet the success must be when it happens. But getting there takes exceptional strength of character and courage. This is why I say there must be a special place in heaven for wives of singers and songwriters (and for supportive and strong military wives).