When the Good Die Young

On March 4th a very special woman passed from this life after a long battle with cervical cancer. Much has been written about the husband and wife duet,  Joey and Rory, especially as they have faced several hardships over the last couple years. They have been very public and REAL with their life. Most of their songs are on YouTube, along with many very personal videos. Rory has maintained a blog including pictures and video that gains so much response that when a post is first published, it usually crashes because there are so many heartfelt responses. I really like Country Music, especially the older stuff. There are plenty of great musicians I enjoy, but Joey and Rory are my indisputable favorites and they have been since I first discovered them around a year ago right around the time Joey was diagnosed with this round of cancer.

I remember thinking even back then that she wasn’t going to live long, and as I listened to music the more convinced I was of this. My wife would argue with me saying plenty of people have survived multiple bouts with cancer, but it wasn’t so much the cancer that convinced me death was eminent, as much as I saw a message that would culminate with her young death. I’m convinced that quite often great people will die very young to solidify a legacy that will accomplish so much more in death than in life.

I can think of many examples which have become my greatest heroes. I can begin with Jesus, who within just a few short years of life, changed the world forever more. Martin Luther King Jr. is another example. He didn’t live to see forty, but his life did so much good, and his death did even more. In the musical world, there are all sorts of examples of people who died very young, but their music lives on blessing millions of lives in so many different ways. In a very real way, it is their early death that ensures that they live on.  Painters are the same way, Van Gough only sold one painting during this life and it freaked him out. It’s like we can’t truly appreciate such greatness until it’s gone, than we cling to it.

The first song I remember hearing from Joey and Rory was the song, A Bible and the Belt.

At that time, I didn’t even know that Joey was the main singer of the duet. I was drawn in by the lyrics. But there are lots of great lyrics. That wasn’t all that captured me. They were a fairly new group, but they played the old type of Country music. No fancy dance steps, no loud screaming guitars, just some singers with a guitar and a MESSAGE.

But watch the video. Do you see how she looks at him? Do you see how he looks at her? There is love and admiration in both of their eyes and that is not just a stage front; that’s REAL. That newlywed look  and the character of the song started my search. How long had they been married? I wondered.  Surely they newlyweds who haven’t experienced the hardships of life. Neither was the case.

Rory is an incredible song writer. Several of his songs even charted under different performers and he was able to make a decent living as a song writer. That is not an easy accomplishment. Joey was an incredible signer who had also enjoyed some success. However, they never reached their full potential until they combined their gifts. The result was magic. The result was that look of, “Wow!!! You’re good. I am so fortunate to have you in my life.”  Isn’t that marriage? Few can have their talent, but all of us can enjoy the strengths of our spouse.

I started reading what I could, and I started buying. Now days there is no need to buy entire CD’s, we normally just buy songs. But the more I listened the more I wanted to hear more. Jory and Rory is the only group that I have bought every CD they have put out. I never do that, but they are that good. The music is fairly typical. That is not the draw of country music; it is the messages. It is the stories. Rarely do the messages exist in any other genre. But it is the messages and stories that stand out so much in Joey and Rory’s music. That is what makes them great.

There is also a movie that has been produced called Josephine. I don’t know if it will ever make it to the big screen since it takes so much money to do so, but I would travel near or far to see this movie if I ever have the chance because of the storyline. You can Google a preview. I WANT TO SEE THAT MOVIE. I bet you will too.

They are not strangers to hardships either. I won’t go into the details because there are so many. But they faced their hardships with faith and dignity. This is so evident in their songs. Even with their success, they live simply in an old farmhouse in Tennessee. They grew their own food and animals. They would put on shows in their barn. I wish so bad that I could have been able to see them perform. When I bought the guitar I’m planning on passing down to my granddaughter Grace, I was hoping I would be able to get them to sign it. I want to pass down something meaningful to my grand daughter. I hope Grace will love Country music instead that new synthesizer type crap so prevalent among the young people. What I liked most about Joey and Rory is the fact that don’t come across as performers; they are REAL.

I don’t think Joey and Rory are as famous as they should be or could be. Maybe it’s bad marketing, or maybe our culture doesn’t appreciate their art as much as I do, but I love to share them with people. My kids don’t seem to get them. They don’t seem to get my favorite Christian artist either: Rich Mullins. What a shame.  Get on YouTube and type in a search. I think you will love them just as much as I do.

I want to share just a few videos that I have found so powerful, but there are so many more. I don’t think there is a bad one and quite often their messages bring me to tears. Not because they are sad, but because they are meaningful. Their songs touch me like no other artists.

Music is powerful. Everybody knows that. But the Life of a Song is a song that expresses in Joey’s own voice how her music will live way beyond her.

This next one always brings me to tears. They didn’t write this song, nor is it about them. But that is how the video is done, and it is clear indication of God’s providence. It is a powerful message about dealing with the death of a loved one. If this video doesn’t bring you to tears, you need to get medical treatment immediately because you don’t have a heart.

So many think of death as the worst thing that can happen. We go to extreme measures trying to prolong life, when in reality we prolong suffering. Death is inevitable, and there is a time to let go. I thought it was very admirable when Joey reached the conclusion that enough is enough, and left the hospital for home. Maybe she could have lived longer with some new cancer treatments. Maybe.   But she would have died any sooner or later. We all will.  There is something to be said about quality of life and simply enjoying the time you have left. That is what Joey did. God granted her one last Christmas with her family and the chance to celebrate her baby’s birthday. Her last days were special.

I don’t feel sorry for Joey or even for the loved ones she left behind. Her legacy is greater than most of us could ever hope for. Her loved ones are so blessed for the time they had with her, and they know it. As Robert Frost wrote long ago, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Joey was gold. She will continue to bless people through her music, and her suffering is over. I for one, am incredibly grateful for music and messages that came from her life. Few get to accomplish so much in such a short time. I wish I could say it to her face. THANK YOU.

 

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About Ken Sayers

I'm currently employed by a children's home where my wife and I care for a cottage of girls who have been displaced from their families. I'm a middle age man with two grown children of my own and one grandchild. I have worked as a United States Marine, a youth minister, a preacher, a childcare worker, and a truck driver. My hobbies include photography, horses, playing guitar, writing, and fitness.
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