When I was plopped down in Ripley County in the middle of nowhere as a not-quite-16 year old, I vowed I would never be a country convert in ANY way, but particularly not in my music choices.
Remaining a separatist took some doing. I could listen to Wolfman Jack out of WLS in Chicago on nightime rides and soak up all the rock music I could stay awake for. Favorite tunes could be purchased on 45’s from Fred’s, and I could play my cherished 33’s on the stereo in the living room and pretend for a while I was not in the midst of brush, bugs and blue jeans.

KDFN was the local radio station – totally country for sure – and I did tune in at scheduled times to hear Grandpa Hunt read the local/national news, to argue with Grapevine (a 30-minute phone-in talk show), to list items from the call-in buy/sell show Current River Exchange on Saturday mornings, but not to listen to music. Being subjected to the weekly broadcasts of Grand Ol’ Opry growing up as first child of a super fan was enough country/western music to last me a lifetime, I thought.

After one year in a tiny rural high school, off to college I went, the country/bluegrass culture in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, ever present to challenge my resolve. We college kids had plenty of ammunition: AC/DC, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, KC and the Sunshine Band, Neil Diamond, the Eagles. I won’t go on, but I could. I had tons of options to safeguard my resolve.

Two years of college in the Kansas City area, with a roomie who played acoustic guitar, I learned to sing harmony and gained an appreciation for popular ballads, folk and country. The first crack in my shield.

Fate would lead me back to work in that same rural district I had scrambled to escape from as a teen. As a teacher I wanted to be in tune with my middle school kids, so I lowered my shield and played with the radio dial a bit more often. Good thing; Billy Yates was among my first students and I am among his devoted fans now.

Motherhood came during the disco era, as well as work on advanced degrees, so I filled long hours on the road with the loud rhythm of pop and rock to maintain musical balance…and stay awake. A year’s residence in Memphis, with the radio dial inviting me to tune in to all sorts of styles punched multiple chinks into my protection.

Back to the rural district in Missouri, this time in a high school setting, the balance was tipped toward loud 80’s tunes the teens preferred. My cheerleaders adored routines to the likes of Guns and Roses, so I found myself chilling to softer country tunes at home, without realizing my brain cells were absorbing the lyrics of both genres. 

In retirement I am relishing those varied musical memories that are tagged to so many events, and I am now chilling to 80’s tunes – on purpose! – on our new local public station KQJN 99.1 established by James Nonnemaker, another among those former students of mine. 

And I am learning a thing or two….sometimes the beats and the bars in various genres sound amazingly similar and dancing to all of them is great exercise as well as tons of fun. Another fact I have learned is that our county has many talented, creative souls who can play, sing, write, perform, produce and encourage others to do the same. Another reason to sing and dance!

About Teresa Pearson Lee

Retired after 33 years of teaching English and French (one year in private school in Memphis, TN and the rest in public school in Doniphan, MO. Enjoying new adventures - all those things I put off for lack of time, energy, now I can try them! Pottery, writing, traveling, camping, kayaking, dancing, listening to some of the best live music ever, and making lively new friendships. All christened with an appreciation for great red wine! Created and operated KC's on the Current, then sold it and managed it for new owners. You might still find me at the reservation desk when spring rolls around. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO near The Hill. Though a transplant to Southeast Missouri, still a city gal at the core with a deep love of the natural resources in these Ozark foothills. Currently I am a content coordinator for Poplar Bluff Living Magazine and a columnist/stringer for the local weekly The Prospect News. My rescue Siamese helps with most of the proofreading; he has a great ear. I relish the solitude easily had in the Mark Twain Forest but thoroughly enjoy lively outings for music, wine, conversation close to home or in my beloved hometown. Technology is my greatest challenge but so worth the shared connections. There may be a need for solitude but there is little loneliness. The material in this blog written by Teresa Lee is her property and cannot be used without express written consent to do so.
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