I grew up during an era when it was common for an adult to ask a child, either during their first introduction or subsequent exposures, what they wanted to be when they grew up. If I recall, that was also something that Art Linkletter did on his TV show.
This unsolicited query was usually at the expense of the child. They were judged by their response to this type of Rorschach Test, sans the inkblots. The answer was often greeted with chuckles. If the child were able to glean what was going on, a solemn expression would appear on their face. Their plan for life was being demeaned in almost every instance.
Thankfully, the resilience of youth meant that none of this embarrassment had any long-term effect. As the years went by, that became a question you would ask yourself, not openly but in the confines of the canyons of your soul.
The Scriptures tell us that those without a plan will fail.
Shooting from the hip with life’s decisions may be great fodder for Hollywood. But it will put you in the metaphoric ditch of life, tilted to one side and spinning your wheels. Farming requires planning and an examination of where you are headed. You think of harvest while planting, and when bringing the crop in, your mind is on what to do the same, different, or better in the coming spring.
After much contemplation, regardless of your path in life, you need to decide if you want to be a singer or a songwriter. At first, you might consider this a strange metric to apply, especially if you ask my wife about my singing ability. She would tell you that the only way I could become a success as a singer would be if the public paid me handsomely not to open my mouth.
But it is apropos. I will explain.
Almost no one knows who the songwriter is. The singer is the one that is associated with the song. The singer is the one who is mobbed when they go out in public and followed by the paparazzi. Yet, the person that wrote the song that made the singer famous may be right next to them. They will be shoved aside in the hope of getting close to the one with the vocal chords. As with so many things in life, those in view receive the acknowledgment… the singer. But without the songwriter, there are no words for them to sing.
The songwriter searches and bares their soul from its depths in the desire for the right message in each verse and stanza. The songwriter has lived the words they write, be it through a broken heart or the pain of disappointment from a series of events. The singer is only delivering the story and rarely has any idea of its magnitude. Much like an actor perfectly reciting the lines of a script. The singer may do an excellent job performing “Take Me Home Country Roads,” even if they never left the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, New York.
However, their eyes, which are the lantern to the soul, will show they cannot grasp the message intertwined between the notes and the words. I cannot deny that the world needs singers; without them, the songwriter would be imprisoned in silence, never touching anyone’s soul.
Look around at the value so many place on social media status. This has elevated to such an extent that if you do a quick internet search, it will reveal that you can purchase fake video downloads along with social media followers, likes, and comments. A modern-day version of buying a wallet and telling your friends the picture that came with it is your pretty, new girlfriend.
Singers… they all want to be singers. Please know that there is nothing wrong with that. It is just that I never wanted to be the singer… just the songwriter. Applying that metric, the world, especially agriculture and rural America, is chock full of songwriters. Yet, the singer is in the public’s eye.
The soldier that leaves his young family home and goes off to war to defend our freedom is the songwriter. The commanding general that gets praised for the outcome is the singer.
A police chief with the camera of the news media hanging on his every word is the singer. The cop that saved the baby and stood quietly to their side is the songwriter.
The farmers and ranchers of America are the songwriters. They are the ones that produce the food, fiber, and fuel for this nation and endure all that goes along with that responsibility. Everything that they are and own is on the line. Individuals and families that have what it takes to be the singer and an easier path, but they chose to be the songwriter.
Unless you were born of the land, you would never know their heart… you can’t know their heart. To most people today, the supermarket, the food company, the dairy packager is the singer. It is not recognized that without the farmer and rancher, the shelves on the grocery store would be bare, the dairy would have empty bottles, and the purveyor would have nothing to process.
If you are reading this, there is a good possibility that you are the songwriter or not that many stanzas away from being one. I am grateful that our Lord has not given me the ability to be a singer. I never wanted to be anything more than a songwriter.