I’ve always been a voracious reader. I don’t remember not being able to read. I do remember my parents begging me to learn to read silently. When I was around six, I had a habit of sitting in the corner of our sectional couch and reading The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit out loud over and over again while they attempted to unwind by watching TV.
I also remember getting in trouble for reading Harry Potter under my desk in geometry. I’d like it to be known that I have yet to use geometry in my career and more than ten years later, still feel like scolding was undeserved. Harry blowing up his aunt is just far more important to me than learning proofs.
For the record, I got a B in that class.
Just as I was leaving Nashville, Bobby Bones and his radio show came to town. I followed the guy on social media and occasionally watched a clip from his show or listened to an interview with an artist I was interested in, but that was about the extent of my Bobby Bones knowledge, not counting the occasional quote or reference to him or his show in some of my pieces for GAC or Country Aircheck.
A few months ago, as I tend to do, I went down the rabbit hole of the internet. It started with an Instagram post from Charlie Worsham. It was picture of Bobby’s book, Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book, with a caption that I can’t remember now, but inspired me to go look up the book because – bookworm. I bought it and onto the digital shelf of my Kindle it went.
This somehow led me to discover Bobby’s podcast, Bobbycast. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work, and his has quickly become a favorite, right up there with How I Built This. I like his podcast because it’s generally one big therapy session, and as a marketer by day/music journalist by night, I love his interview style. He doesn’t ask the obvious questions. “Tell us about your new album.” “What inspired your latest single?” He asks about their dog and the next thing you know, Jake Owen is talking about his divorce and sleeping on the floor of the townhouse he owned before buying what was meant to be a home for his family.
After my trip to Nicaragua, I finally got around to reading Bare Bones.
I couldn’t put it down.
Bobby (can I call him Bobby? Are we on that level? He liked a tweet I tagged him in the other day, so I feel like I can) has said that he didn’t think anyone had a story like his until he took the risk and put his story out there and found out that everyone has a story like his. Really, I think it’s just the fact that everyone has a story.
I identified with Bobby. I grew up in rural Virginia in a town people don’t leave. I had a much better family situation when compared to Bobby, but my parents divorced when I was in third grade which came with its own set of challenges. Money was tight, opportunities were limited, and college was a thing other people did, but I always knew I wanted out. I knew there was a big world waiting for me just across the county line.
Bobby recognized that he would have to make his own way. So, he did. He showed up. He worked hard. He made mistakes. He learned from them. He kept trying things and grinding it out until things worked. Although, based on his book, I think if you ask Bobby, he might say he’s still waiting on things to work.
I understood the make your own way thing, too. I came up with the brilliant idea to make a MySpace (MYSPACE) dedicated to country music news and called it Country Music News Today. It got a pretty big following, so I made it into a website. And by that I mean I Googled and Googled some more and taught myself how to build a website. Turns out, that’s a pretty useful skill. Professors found out and the next thing I knew, I was presenting to 300 and 400 level classes while taking the prerequisite classes to take those very classes the next year. One professor, Dr. Stovall, showed me this thing called Twitter which was relatively new at that point, which led me to teaching myself this whole social media marketing thing that pays my bills today.
That website led me to an internship at Great American Country, which led me to a freelance gig with them, which has since led to another freelance gig with Country Aircheck. Maybe one of these days I’ll turn the freelance gig into a full-time, regular thing, but at least it’s one foot in an industry I still love.
I’m rambling here, but I really identified with Bobby and his Fight. Grind. Repeat. mantra. I bet he can name as many – if not more – high school acquaintances that are still in our hometowns, maybe even working the same high schools jobs, as I can. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, so long as they’re happy, but there’s no way I would have been okay serving breakfast sandwiches at Crossroads Store 10+ years after graduating.
But then… Then I read the last chapter.
Bobby Bones made me cry.
In his last chapter, which I read so fast because I was going THAT’S ME over and over again, so I went back and read it again, he talks about his hopes for the future, things like getting married, having kids. He talks, too, about the hard look he has to take at himself and I just couldn’t help but think “I feel you, Bobby.” I’m barely in my thirties, but I understood what he was saying about those things on a deep level.
Reading Bare Bones served as a reminder.
I’ve done hard things.
And I will have to do hard things moving forward. That’s life. Life gets hard sometimes. But, I showed up to those hard things, just as promptly as I showed up for the easy stuff and the fun stuff and I learned from it all. I will keep learning from it all. It also inspired me to keep pushing. Keep moving forward. Keep dreaming and keep trying.
Fight. Grind. Repeat.
And of course, I tune into his morning show a lot more often now.
I’ve also decided that my goal is to be best friends with Amy, his co-host. Partly because I want to pick her brain about her work in Haiti in an effort to do good in Nicaragua, partly because I want to trade smoothie recipes with her, and mostly because I want her to tell me all of her hair secrets because Amy is hair goals.
All of this to say – read Bare Bones. Whether you can relate to Bobby’s story or not, you will come away inspired to choose joy and maybe work a little harder to achieve your dreams.
If you’re a podcast listener, dig into the Bobbycast. If you need a starting point (the beginning…), check out the podcasts with Kip Moore, Jake Owen, and Charlie Worsham. Kip is one of my favorite artists out right now and he and Bobby get into the current structure of the country music format. Jake and Bobby basically have an hour and a half of therapy, and Charlie and Bobby get into Charlie’s struggles with burnout and finding his love of music again.
It takes a lot of courage to put your life story out. I’ve published a post here and there that left me pretty vulnerable to the world. Bobby published a whole book. And so, Bobby, should you happen to read this someday, thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your story. You’re a pretty cool human.