In economic tough times like these, inspirational songs mean even more to people struggling to make a better life for themselves.
One of my favorite such songs during the past 20 years has been Travis Tritt’s I’m Gonna Be Somebody, which he recorded in 1989 for his Warner Bros. debut album.
The album originally was titled Son of the New South, but it was quickly changed to Country Club when Tritt’s debut single (I’m A Member of the) Country Club shot up the country music charts.
It’s a good bet that Tritt will sing I’m Gonna Be Somebody when he joins Charlie Daniels for a concert at Lady Antebellum Pavilion at Evans Towne Center Park at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 the day of the show.
Daniels has been in the Augusta area many times, beginning with his 1973 appearance at Bell Auditorium with the rock group Canned Heat shortly after his break-out single Uneasy Rider.
Tritt also has been in the Augusta area several times, performing both solo and with his early 1990s duet partner Marty Stuart.
Their single The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ Anymore won a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. Another duet with Stuart, This One’s Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time) won the 1992 Country Music Association’s award for Vocal Event of the Year.
I’m Gonna Be Somebody was composed by Jill Colucci and Aiken-reared songwriter Stewart Harris. The two also joined Sam Lorber to write Wynonna Judd’s huge hit No One Else On Earth.
The lyrics of I’m Gonna Be Somebody tell of a poor boy named Bobby who played his guitar “on the hard side of town.”
Instead of being encouraged, Bobby was told that his music never was going to get him anywhere.
“People say get a real job. Support your family,” the song goes, “Cause there’s no future on the road you’re takin’. But he never said a word. The dreamer just kept on. Late at night you could hear him say:
“I’m gonna be somebody. One of these days I’m gonna break these chains. I’m gonna be somebody, someday. You can bet your hard-earned dollar I will.”
The song says it took Bobby about 10 years to make it to the top. That’s also about how long it took Tritt to make it to the top from when he graduated in 1981 from Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Ga., to his breakout debut single Country Club in late 1989.
By the time I first interviewed him in February 1990, Tritt, then 27, had been married and divorced twice. He attributed his first divorce to marrying too young (his high school sweetheart) and his second to demands of show business. He has been married to his third wife, Theresa, since 1997.
Like Bobby, who never gave up his dreams of performing, Tritt kept his dreams alive also. He quit a $400-a-week job as assistant manager of a Marietta company that distributed heating and air-conditioning equipment to pursue his music full time.
He told me he played small nightclubs and beer joints around the metro Atlanta area for several years, including the Kennesaw Inn in Marietta and Golddiggers Saloon in Acworth, Ga.
Tritt told reporter Joe Edwards of The Associated Press, “I would go to the grocery store once a week and buy canned Vienna sausage, a head of lettuce, a jar of mayonnaise, a loaf of bread and three cans of soup. That was breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire week. It’s all I could afford.”
Well, you know how it turned out. Tritt kept the faith, kept believing in himself and did become somebody.
Some of my favorite country songs are among his long, long list of hits, including Help Me Hold On, (I Don’t Love You) Anymore, Can I Trust You With My Heart, Here’s A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares), Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man, Put Some Drive in Your Country, Tell Me I Was Dreaming, Foolish Pride, Best of Intentions and his re-make of Elvis Presley’s T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
Tritt has been seen acting in several TV programs and feature films. His latest role reportedly is in a Christian film titled Fishers of Men, which is about twin brothers who lead very different lives in the 1950s. Filming took place in Bainbridge, Ga., in 2010.
MY TAKE ON FIRST FRIDAYS: There was much heated discussion Monday at the North Augusta Activities Center about Friday’s shooting at Ninth and Broad about 11:30 p.m. during the First Friday celebration.
I was at that same location two hours earlier and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
At my health club, one very educated man who should know better said, “I’m scared to be on Broad Street in the daytime.”
Now, that’s really ridiculous. I’ve been on Broad Street almost every week for 40 years, and I’ve never felt threatened except by a couple of irate corrupt politicians I exposed while a government reporter.
There have been killings in upscale subdivisions, at prominent local businesses and, yes, often in North Augusta. So don’t point the finger at just Broad Street.
I can’t count the times I’ve been downtown at night to entertainment venues, restaurants and nightclubs without major incidents.
First Friday organizers need to go to downtown Greenville, S.C., and look at its First Saturday celebrations, which are wonderful and attended by way more thousands and thousands of people than Augusta’s. I attended that event in Greenville last month while at a statewide American Legion convention, and here’s what I see that works:
• Augusta’s First Friday should be moved to First Saturday and tied to the highly successful Saturday morning market on Eighth Street at Riverwalk. First Saturday then should continue through the day and end early, like Greenville’s does, about 9 p.m. It’s almost always late at night that trouble breaks out at Augusta’s First Fridays.
That also would give late Friday workers a chance to enjoy First Saturday more.
• Augusta, despite new street lights, is so dark downtown during First Fridays. Go to Greenville and see how much better the lights are for that town’s celebrations.
• There need to be more walking, visible police officers. Their presence is very noticeable in Greenville. All I saw last Friday night in Augusta were police cars circling blocks and at least one police car parked in the middle of every block. I never saw a single police officer walking on the sidewalks.
Augusta-Richmond County officers have a huge job on their hands with so many people downtown. But so many people downtown should be a good thing, such as with the Westobou Festival, Arts in the Heart, Border Bash and other major, downtown, nighttime events – not a bad thing.
If you can’t control the troublemakers now, what are you going to do when people are downtown at night with the new convention center or maybe even a new sports stadium? One nasty incident really will kill each of those visitor-oriented businesses.
There’s the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Well, Augusta officials should not throw out the first weekend celebrations that thousands do enjoy. Throw out the troublemakers instead.