The things that have always been important: to be a good man, to try to live my life the way God would have me, to turn it over to Him that His will might be worked in my life, to do my work without looking back, to give it all I've got, and to take pride in my work as an honest performer.
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.
That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.
I recently found myself going through a period of uncertainty about my future as a performer, my status as a personality, the believability of my Christian witness and the knowledge of God's will in my life. I felt a force bigger than myself saying, 'Lay back. Take it easy. Study hard. Read your bible. Think, write and keep your mouth shut for awhile.'
Everybody was wearing rhinestones, all those sparkly clothes, and cowboy boots. I decided to wear a black shirt and pants and see if I could get by with it. I did and I've worn black clothes ever since.
Gospel music was the thing that inspired me as a child growing up on a cotton farm, where work was drudgery and it was so hard that when I was in the field I sang all the time. Usually gospel songs because they lifted me up above that black dirt.
It makes me so mad that some people underestimate the wisdom and energy of young people. All because they don't look the way older folks think they should look. I'm working on a song about it. Maybe some of those closed minded people will realize long hair and tattoos don't mean they should be ignored. Close minded people are part of what's wrong with this world.
There's no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.
So I simply don't buy the concept of "Generation X" as the "lost generation." I see too many good kids out there, kids who are ready and willing to do the right thing, just as Jack was. Their distractions are greater, though. There's no more simple life with simple choices for the young.
I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.
No matter how much you've sinned, no matter how much you've stumbled, no matter how much you fall, no matter how far you've got from God, don't give up. You can still be redeemed. As someone says, keep the faith.
It's like a novelist writing far out things. If it makes a point and makes sense, then people like to read that. But if it's off in left field and goes over the edge, you lose it. The same with musical talent, I think.
You've got a song you're singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you've got to make them think that you're one of them sitting out there with them too. They've got to be able to relate to what you're doing.