Grrr! Escaping Bad News in Nashville

I don't know about you, but I'm already sick of hearing about perverted former Congressman Mark Foley and his (alleged — yeah right) e-mail scandal.

As if there weren't already so much twisted garbage filling our eyes and ears, every day there's another revelation in Foleygate.

Couple that with the tragic and terrible story out of Amish country where five little girls were inexplicably murdered and five others are seriously injured, I just had to get away.

So what's a Grrr! guy to do?

How about heading to Nashville for two days of interviews with some of country music's biggest stars leading up to next month's Country Music Awards?

From "Dangerous Man" Trace Adkins to Darryl Worley "Here and Now," to the beautiful Jo Dee Messina and "The Working Man's Ph.D." Aaron Tippin, I was able to squeeze in over a dozen interviews in music city, including Mayor Bill Purcell and Gloria Dumas, a general sessions judge — thankfully I was invited to her court, as opposed to being ordered there.

Aaron Tippin took me flying in the 1941 bi-plane he used in his "Ready to Rock (In a Country Kind of Way)" music video, after I spent some time with him as he promoted his latest CD, "Now and Then."

Flying low over Nashville, with its beautiful forests around Tippin's farm, was like kissing God up there. With Tippin at the controls, I was in good hands.

Cracker Barrel held court at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where the CD release party for its "Songs of the Year," a collection of country hits, performed by Adkins, Messina, Lonestar and others, was celebrated.

Adkins did "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," a Johnny Cash hit, which you can see right here on in our Nashville Series section.

The CD is available exclusively at and in restaurants "Around the Corner or Around the Country," as their motto goes.

At the legendary Tootsie's, where country music legends are born, John Stone, Jett Williams and Kacey Jones regaled me with tales of music, and it was there where I met the six guys who have touched my heart with a song that is making men cry all over the country.

"I Loved Her First," the No. 2 song on country music charts from the band Heartland, is a tune that speaks to parents — particularly fathers — in such a way that "Daddy's Little Girl" has seen its last spin at weddings across this great Land, mark my Grrr!

And their album, also titled "I Loved Her First," not even released yet!

The first time I heard the song I cried, thinking of my little Maxine and knowing that one day she'll be all grown up, and God willing I'll be walking her down the aisle to give her away. The lyrics are poignant.

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it's still hard to give her away
I loved her first

The band, found on MySpace at — made up of Jason Albert, Craig Anderson, Todd Anderson, Mike Myerson, Keith West and Chuck Crawford, played a bit of their song in an acoustic version of their hit for The folks at Great American Country were kind enough to let us tape along with them.

In addition to meeting the guys right here on in our Nashville Series section, Heartland will be heading to Texas today to play Odessa and points west throughout the week.

All in all, my first trip to Nashville, arranged so well by PR guru Kirt Webster, did the trick, and opened my eyes and ears to a whole new experience, from Tootsie's to the Grand Ole Opry to the new civic park in downtown Nashville.

Be sure to keep checking back to our Nashville Series section over the next few days, as I continue to add more interviews and performances from my trip.

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