I grew up in a small community.
Where there was only one way to be.
One way to dress. One way to vote. One kind of cuisine to like. One job to have. And one kind of music to listen to.
That music was country.
My family was weird, and we didn’t really buy into it, and I’m so thankful for that now, but not at the time. Then, I wanted so badly to be like everyone else.
Except for the music thing.
I loathed country music. Like, to the point where my back teeth ached if I had to listen to it. But if I got into someone else’s vehicles, it was guaranteed that the radio would be tuned to an AM country station.
And if we were in the car at noon, those AM country stations would broadcast the news. Then the prices of commodities. Then the weather.
And then, Paul Harvey.
The first time I heard his show, I thought it was a joke. Seriously, this guy sounded a million years old, and paused in weird places, and went on and ON about sweet bugger all. Who was this old coot?
But when the nearest town is an hour away by car, you spend a lot of time in cars. And I had to listen to Paul Harvey a lot. And then, one day, I realized I wanted to listen to him.
He wasn’t cool. It was like talking to a grandpa; not even your own grandpa, because at the end of the long-winded story, there wouldn’t be a dollar or a Scotch mint. His politics were wickedly conservative, and even at that age, I wasn’t. There was no real reason for me to like him.
But man, I really liked that guy. I liked his stories about crazy shit, like the woman impregnated by a bullet that travelled through some guy’s testicle, then into her ovary. I liked his reassuring tone. I liked the way he told me what page he was on. I liked the way he ended each broadcast by saying “Good day”, going up at the end, looking forward toward the next day.
Even when I got older, and moved away, and wasn’t spending hours in other people’s cars, I still listened to him. As much as the place I grew up in was suffocating, it was safe. And Paul Harvey was part of that home.
Paul Harvey passed away on the weekend.