I’ve come full circle.
It will soon be five years since I left the land of country clubs, manicured lawns, mansions and McMansions in the northern suburbs of this city I love so much.
Any day driving around the neighborhood could be an exotic car show featuring special imports, custom rides, and some that cost as much as a fancy dwelling. We were incredibly blessed to live in a great community with award-winning schools, shopping, dining, and all the other nice things that came with the environment. Lifelong friends are the best thing about any space you call home.
I have returned to the Classic City of Athens, which is home of the University of Georgia, and for the moment reigning national college football champions. I attended school here, and later worked and supported myself as a young adult in radio broadcasting. That led me to the “Big A,” as we called Atlanta back then, and after spending 40 years in the big city, Athens seems more like a big country town with a cool college that’s far enough away from — yet close enough to — Atlanta. Another thing, everyone seems happy to be here.
When you move, it takes some adjusting, but once you get adjusted, there’s no turning back. As I age, my need for the faster pace is not as great. This area is not slow at all, but the laid-back pace is fine. I’m fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in a country paradise on one of Georgia’s amazing lakes. Getting there on the main highway, I may be hampered by a slower driver for a few minutes. That may not nearly as exhilarating as six lanes of traffic, with the slowest moving at 80 mph, but I’ll take it.
Quite often while cruising around town these days, I’ll hear a song I played from a black vinyl circle four or five decades ago and think, “Wow…that’s pretty cool and surreal!” Being blessed with a really good memory, my mind transports me back to the old control room, where I can see the vinyl spinning and even recall memories of old acquaintances a song reminds me of.
That’s another thing of beauty we all share. We knew the music was good in those days but had no idea of the impact most of those songs would have on music history.
One station I worked for was the originating station for broadcasting all things Dawgs. During football season I saw a very young Vince Dooley every Monday, and young Larry Munson every Friday. I was the ripe old age of 23. I was fortunate enough to work with Larry again for many years during my WSB FM days. I saw him pretty much every day. I see Coach Dooley quite often these days at the Athens Touchdown Club meetings. I’m proud to be a member of this group that does so much good. The organization recently celebrated 75 years of being, and it is still going strong.
Living in Athens in the early and mid-70s is a part of who I am. The music scene was great then, and now. I’ve mentioned the amazing Randall Bramblett and his superb career and world class songwriting. He’s teamed with superstar artists and groups and is still wowing people today. You must take the time to see him.
And how can you not be aware of R.E.M and the B-52s, more groups who hail from Athens?
And this city still hosts a supercharged, vibrant music scene as I write this. Bring us more good music!
I hear the term “influencer” a lot these days. In a way, we old radio folks did that in our time. It’s still rewarding when someone has kind things to say about hearing me on the air from 10 to 40-plus years ago. I’ve played thousands of songs — everything from sad-and-silly love songs to rock and roll, to “Play that Funky Music.”
I’d do it all over again. Thanks for listening and reading.