Lyrics explain where words fail

The year was 1986, and I hit the road early that morning, leaving northeastern Ohio for Columbus, the center of the state, and Ohio’s state capital. August and State Fair time, but this was only tangential to my reason for going.

By now most of the country had jumped on the fan train for “Alabama,”and I knew that, in order to get a ticket for their concert at the State Fair, I was going to have to get there early, beat the crowd.

I suppose you could say this was my summer to be a crossover country groupie.

Two weeks before, I’d seen a show by a still little known band named Sawyer Brown, up in Youngstown. I’m not sure whether the term “crossover” had yet been coined, but it was just another name for country rock, which sounds good no matter what you call it.

That was then and this is now.

Randy, Jeff, Teddy and Mark, known collectively as Alabama, were memorialized last summer in Ft. Payne, Alabama, by the unveiling of a bronze statue. Obviously, both supergroups are still touring and collecting new fans, even as their first generation fans age.

In our wedding ceremony, I chose to have one song by Alabama, one by Sawyer Brown – actually, these were two little known songs by chart topping groups. Sometimes the best cuts from any album are buried on the back.

Though it is true that Janice, for whom I chose those songs, was not yet with me at the time of those concerts, it’s also true that I wish she had been.

“Treat Her Right,” by Sawyer Brown, says it all in a few verses:

“She’s your best friend and your lover

So if you want to keep her

Take good care of her

If you treat her right, show her you care

When you need her, she’ll be there”

The Alabama song takes the same theme, even a similar beat, and adds a spiritual twist:

“The Maker said take her and love her forever

Take care of her for life

Never forsake her don’t be a heart breaker

The maker said take her

And treat her right”

There’d be another song I’d add if I planned the ceremony today, “Look At You, Girl”:

“You mean everything to me

And I’d do anything to have you stay forever

I’m an ordinary man

But I feel like I could do anything in the world

When I look at you, girl”

My generation has spanned the journey from LP records to IPods, and who knows what will have been developed by the time we’re old ? The danger in all this is that too much exposure, too much media, weakens the impact. The joy is that, if these three songs incite your interest, you can go on line and listen to them.

Who knows, maybe they will become special in your relationship. You don’t have to be a country rock fan to get the message.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: