LMSM 21 | Music For Career Inspiration

 

When you need to be productive, what type of music does it for you? Ian bangs out hip hop while Frankie hee-haws along to the banjo. This argument has gone nowhere for years, but that all changes with this episode! Your fearless co-hosts each pick five of their favorite songs for career inspiration. Two men enter this podcast, but only one emerges victorious. Follow along as they break down classics from Biggie, Charlie Daniels, Tupac, and Alan Jackson, pulling career lessons from classic lyrics.

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Better Career Inspiration: Hip Hop Or Country? Frank And Ian Settle A Score

Everybody gets their inspiration from different places. Frank and I are about to talk about where we get ours. This started with an argument as I told him that I like to listen to hip-hop if I need to get something creative done, to which he argued that was a terrible choice and that country is the only thing you should listen to in the office. In this episode, we do battle. We’re going to pick our five favorite hip-hop and country songs, and talk about why we find inspiration in those. For all of our loyal subscribers, thank you so much for sticking with us and helping us grow this little show. If you haven’t given us a review on Apple Podcasts, we’d appreciate it. If you’re new, hit that subscribe button and turn on your notifications, come along and ride with us. I’m ready to go. This is a special episode. I cannot wait.

This episode was recommended by no one. It’s the show that you didn’t know you needed, but by the end, you’ll read it 2, 3 and 4 times because it’s special. We are battling, Frank. Me versus you. We are taking turns going through our favorite songs in two genres that are incredibly important to both of us. I was telling Frank I needed to get pumped up and there was something I needed to get done. I said, “I’m going to turn out some hip-hop and get myself pumped up to get going.” He was like, “When I get pumped up, I always listen to country.” It started a little bit of an argument between the two of us of what was better to juice you up and find inspiration in business, country or hip-hop?

I need to work and concentrate. I can’t get into hip-hop, but I love all these songs. I work out the most of them. This is where this emanated. I grew up in South Florida. I mostly grew up with hip-hop, with the stuff my parents listened to, which is like oldies, and I listened to classic rock. What did you guys listen to working out in high school?

Rock and roll 100% when I worked out. That was AC/DC, Metallica. That’s what we blared.

We would do Led Zeppelin. We do a lot of classic rock too. I hated country music. I went to college and I’ve gone through this before. I was on the 2 plus 2 equals 5 plan when I went to the University of Florida. In my last eighteen months in school, I was in the Building Construction major and all the guys there had boats and were all from the country. I listened to country with them. I hated it for a while, but by the last 6 to 12 months in college, I’m starting to come around to this. It was like George Strait and stuff like that. I found myself listening to it when I was doing things like packing or unpacking or working. That’s how it became for me, my go-to.

I grew up on the main streets of Trenton, Michigan. That’s where most of the hard people that you’ll ever meet in your life grew up. It’s 30 minutes South of Detroit. In the ‘80s or ‘90s, we had B96 and WJLB 97.9, lots of good hip-hop stations. My first cassette tape ever was Run-DMC’s Raising Hell. My second was Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, I’m Bad by LL Cool J. My first 30 tapes were rap. I don’t think I had a rock tape until I had 30 rap tapes. That’s what I listened to growing up. That’s what I got excited and pumped up about. I didn’t get into country until you got me into it.

Now, I listen to a lot of country and largely because they swear a lot less. I got into country many years ago when my son was born because I can play country in the car, and he’s not going to repeat it and get me in trouble when he goes to school. For me, when I need to get jazz, when I need to find inspiration, when I’m trying to get excited to write an article or make a video, or even to get excited to go make a sale, to get on the phone with a customer if I have to close a deal, it is 100% for me always hip-hop. That’s where my inspiration comes from.

Let’s do it. This is how we’re going to do this. It’s going to be a battle. We’re going to go back and forth. We’re going to do five songs each. You go first.

I feel like this is unfair a little bit that I have the hip-hop genre though. I feel like readers already know who’s going to win this battle because I have the better genre in general. You picked a softer genre. It’s like saying classical to get excited. Hip-hop is all about the struggle. It’s all about coming from the streets and making something yourself. The stories are better. Country’s sad. It’s about losing your girlfriend or your mom died or your guns, and it’s about drinking beer and your dog. I don’t even know how you’re going to put enough material together to it. I feel like my first song is going to beat all five of yours.

Let’s go, Mr. Over-confident.

We’re going to go from 5 to 1. The first song that I chose is by LL Cool J, the LL standing for Ladies Love Cool J, I’m Bad. I chose I’m Bad for many reasons. It’s one of my absolute favorite songs to listen to, but one thing I love about hip-hop, the genre in general is the insane amount of confidence that artists have when they go in. When you listen to an artist like LL Cool J, it’s nearly impossible not to have the same confidence while you’re listening to him and makes you feel the things that he’s feeling at the time. One of the reasons why I love I’m Bad, it’s before Mama Said Knock You Out and before he had a lot of commercial success, it’s his first huge hit.

I love to put myself in his shoes when he was writing these lyrics because he hadn’t done much yet. He had his first tape that had been out and he thought of as the fringe rapper that was coming up as a young guy, but he’s a kid when he’s writing some of these lyrics and the lyrics are like a kid crushing you with mama jokes on the block. “No rapper can rap quite like I can. I’ll take a muscle-bound man and put a face in the sand.” That’s what he starts with. He comes out of the gate with that. This is someone who’s never had a number one hit and never had a platinum album. He’s already letting the world know he’s the best rapper ever.

“If you think you can out rhyme me. Yeah, boy, I bet because I ain’t met a mother****** who can do that yet.” He’s a kid saying all of these things, “Kamikaze, take a look at what I’ve done. I used to rock in my basement. Now I’m number one.” He wasn’t even number one. He’s writing these things before he’s done that. When you listen to the song, you can almost feel LL Cool J willing himself to becoming the number one rapper. At that time, it was Run-DMC and Kool Moe Dee. In this song, he’s taking shots at Kool Moe Dee. If you’re of my age and you liked this music at the time, this was one of the first big beefs in rap. It was Kool Moe Dee versus LL Cool J.

In the ‘90s, it was Biggie and Tupac and other people, but one of the first big beefs ever was Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J. Kool Moe Dee hated LL Cool J and vice versa. This song was a retaliation. Kool Moe Dee made I Go To Work where he crushes LL Cool J. They went back and forth a few times, and this is his beef coming out the public. The way he spits the words, the way he talks to Kool Moe Dee, the way he wills himself, “Sparrin’ MC’s and I’m a never get with. When I retire, I’ll get worship like an old battleship. My tongue’s a chisel in this competition sculpture. I’m notorious. I’ll crush you like a jelly bean.” My favorite line of the song, “Forget Oreos. Eat Cool J cookies.” For anyone who wants to make it or who wants to build something, build a name, build a brand, LL Cool J is giving you the blueprint of, “If I write it on paper, it’s going to happen.” You see him willing himself to greatness.

Do you believe in yourself so much that you would bet everything on yourself? Click To Tweet

You get a lot of work with all these songs on?

If you want to quit now, after that, I understand because that song is that powerful. I understand if you’re like, “Let’s wrap up this show. You win. Hip-hop is better.”

If you’re working on your abs, this is a great song. How about you getting done what Cool J’s rap back then?

I went with Jenny and a whole bunch of friends when I was 23 or 24. We saw LL Cool J. This is 2000. We saw him at the House of Blues in Chicago. It’s a small venue. He started with a shirt, a vest, chains, and by the end of it, he was literally in his underwear. No shirt, nothing, women going nuts, including my wife. It was pouring sweat. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life. It was incredible. I don’t remember the last three songs because we had quite a few Miller Lites that night.

I come back to you. How much work are you getting done? I’m sure Mike Tyson boxes to this stuff in his underwear.

I get a ton of work done. What are you talking about? Inspirational.

No doubt. You listen to that, you take your headphones off, put on classical music, and get some work done. I’m starting with on the other end of the spectrum, Alan Jackson’s Drive. Do you know the song? Have you ever heard it?

I do know this song.

This is a b***** song. It’s the song of a little kid looking up to his old man. They go up to Georgia and they buy a boat. That’s how the whole song starts. “It’s painted red, the stripe was white. It was 18 feet, from the bow to stern light. Secondhand from a dealer in Atlanta I rode up with daddy when he went there to get her.” To me, that’s everything that’s cool about being a little kid hanging out with your dad. This makes me think of the times where I would do projects or be a little kid hanging out with my dad. Now that I’m a dad with a young kid. My son is still pooping in a diaper, so we’re not here yet.

I am very excited about the fact that I get to do some of this cool stuff with him at some point. This is the culmination of the first verse. It’s a crappy old boat and he’s going around in this body of water. It’s like a little lake. He goes, “But I was king of the ocean when daddy let me drive.” To me, that’s a b***** song about Americana, resurrecting something, making it cool, going out and doing it. There’s a second verse to this song and it talks about an old shortbed Ford pickup truck. His uncle bought it in ‘64, “Daddy got it right because the engine was smoking. I’d sit up in the front seat, stretch my feet out to the pedals. Smiling like a hero that received his medal. It was an old hand-me-down Ford with a three-speed on a column and a dent in the door. A young boy two hands on the wheel. I can’t replace the way it made me feel.”

This is the part I love about this song. The first time my dad didn’t let me drive, he let me steer. It was like on the way to the dump. This song right here, “Just a dirt road with trash on each side but I was Mario Andretti when daddy let me drive.” I was six and steering in my dad’s lap, this was before airbags, and you can do that stuff. To me, what this song fires me up about is a reclamation project. It gets me excited about all the things that I do in my life. I buy old houses and fix them up. It’s all the good stuff. I got into construction because of my old man and the way that this thing ends, which I love, is it’s the way it started was with the old boat says, “75 Johnson, electric choke.” I use that line of my sister’s wedding and I gave a toast. My sister was a little kid when this song was new. We used to do all kinds of cool stuff where you’re driving somewhere and that’s the line we would always giggle when we would hear together because nobody knows what the hell it means. It’s obscure as hell. It’s that’s what you work for, are those fun memories in life. That’s what this song does for me.

One thing I will say about country music that is fantastic at is every country song can go and place you at a different place in your life. It can take you back to something. They’re fantastic. Whether it’s back to a football game or back to a high school dance, or back to being a little kid fishing with your dad, they are fantastic at that.

What I love about it in the end is I’d listen to this stuff all the time at work. When a song like this comes on while I’m grinding away doing my work, I smile for a second. It makes me think of my little sister. That line comes up, I think about driving that truck with my dad. It transports you and then you get back to work and grind through the c*** that you’re working on and look forward to the next fond memory.

Most things by Alan Jackson are going to be good entries. My second song is going to be by none other than Tupac Shakur and I chose Life Goes On. The reason why Life Goes On, in my opinion, is his best song is because of the tragic way that he died way too young. This song, if you look at the lyrics, is about moving on when your friends die, and for Tupac, that was a lot. Tupac not only had a lot of friends who died too early. He got a lot of friends go to jail for life. This song is about people he’s lost for life that are gone. He’s talking about how you have to mourn, but I’ve got to keep living. I’ve got to keep living my life.

LMSM 21 | Music For Career Inspiration

Music For Career Inspiration: Hip hop is all about the struggle. It’s all about coming from the streets and making something of yourself.

 

You and I have had these discussions a million times about my approach to life is move on. If something bad happened, move on. This song is all about life is short, live it hard, move on when bad things happen, life, death, loss. The lyrics starts where he loses someone. He takes a phone call, “Ring, ring, ring, quiet you all, incoming call. Plus, this my homie from high school, he’s getting by. It’s time to bury another brother, nobody cry.” He’s talking about learning how he learned of a high school friend who died in a drive-by shooting. “Now that you’re gone, I’m in the zone thinking I don’t want to die all alone.” He’s talking about he’s getting into the hard truths of what it was like for him growing up on the streets.

Everything about it though is fascinating. He’ll talk about the good times with them, “While trying to make it last, I drank a fifth for that a** when you passed because life goes on.” What he’s saying is bad things happen in your life. Think about it for a little bit, close the chapter. Him pouring out a fifth on the ground is him saying, “That chapter is over. I’m going to miss you, but I’ve got to move on.” That’s the way the dude lived. He lived so hard and he was the candle that burned a little too bright all the time.

He’s got a line in it that he talks about his own death, which is the most powerful stanza in the song for me. He talks about when he dies and he predicts it’s going to happen when I’m young and he doesn’t want people sitting around crying and having a boring funeral. He says, “Bury me smiling with G’s in my pocket. Have a party at my funeral. Let every rapper rock it.” I love that line. That line is incredible of, “Don’t sit around crying for me when I go out, because I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory,” and he did, which is wild, “Don’t sit around crying. Have a party at my funeral.”

He says how he wants to be buried, “Give me a paper and pen so I can write about my life of sin, a couple of bottles of gin in case I don’t get in.” He’s talking about heaven. “If I don’t get in, leave me with a couple of bottles of gin in the casket.” It’s wild. It is such a carpe diem approach to life, seize the day. At the very end he finishes, “Next time you see your homies, you’re going to be on top. They’re going to be like, ‘G******, you all came up.’ That’s right because life goes on.” I love this. I didn’t grow up on streets like that. My homies from high school didn’t all die, but his general approach to life, which is, “Bad s*** has happened to me and bad s*** will happen to me in the future, but I’m going to live my life with as much fun as I possibly can. I’m going to move on when bad s*** happens.” It inspires me all the time. Every bad thing that happens to me, I love this song. I listen to it and it helps me move to what’s next.

You and I have been friends for over a decade. One of the things that you’ve helped me with the most is living in the moment. We’ve talked about this a lot, but it’s not something that I was great at prior to knowing you and it’s something I’ve gotten a lot better at. That’s what I think is cool about this song and hearing you talk about it is that Tupac knew he had a ticking time bomb in his pocket, and that he wasn’t going to last very long. He’s doing damn near everything he can, plus he knew he was no altar boy. “I’m bringing booze to God to barter my way in.” Come back to you. I don’t know how much work you’re getting done while you’re listening to this, but that’s a good song.

I can get a lot done when I listen to these songs. They pumped me up.

This is like changing your oil and stuff. My number four song is difficult to argue with. It’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band. Charlie Daniels died. This is an awesome song. If you know anything in country music, this is the song you know. “The devil went down in Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind because he was way behind and he was willing to make a deal.” Ian and I talk about this all the time. “Don’t be in a rush to make a deal. You’re going to get out-negotiated. Do not come in arrogant because you’re going to get your a** kicked.” You talk about high ego. The devil had a lot of ego. Country boy Johnny whoops his a**.

You’ve been to a lot of country concerts. Is this probably the most covered song by major stars too? This song gets covered a lot.

It gets covered a lot, but it’s such a good song.

All the country singers love this.

In Nashville, if you’re like on lower Broadway, this song and Wagon Wheel. Everybody is sad because everybody plays this one. He meets up with this young man and he goes, “Devil jumped up on a hickory stump and said, ‘Boy, let me tell you what. I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player too and if you’d care to make a dare, I’ll make a bet with you.’ You play pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his due.” This is the battle. They’re about to get into battle. Earnest Johnny is going to battle the devil and the stakes are set, “I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against you because I’m better than you.” If you win, you get to fill them into gold. If you lose, you go into hell with Tupac. You better be careful. If it gave that a hell of a gold fiddle, I don’t know if I’m making that bet.

“The boy said, ‘My name’s Johnny and it might be a sin, but I’ll take your bet. You’re going to regret it because I’m the best that’s ever been.” Ian and I are talking about doing a show on ego. Johnny’s got some strong ego. He’s going to trade his soul for a fiddle of gold and he’s going to spend his a** the rest of his years in hell if he loses. The thing I like about this, which fires me up about it, is he’s strong enough to be like, “I put in the work, I did it. I am good and I’m willing to take a shot.” He does. That’s like as Tupac was saying, “Take a shot.” This guy has taken a shot, “But if you lose, the devil gets your soul.” I’ve talked about this. That was a real consequence.

When you're young, you underestimate how easy certain things will be. Click To Tweet

The devil gets up there and he plays his tune and it’s good. Johnny says, which I love, arrogant as hell, “You’re a pretty good old, son, but sit down in that chair right there. Let me show you how it’s done.” He’s confident. he’s arrogant and he whoops the devil’s a**. This is my favorite part, “Johnny says, ‘Devil, just come back If you ever want to try again, I done told you once, you son of a b****, I’m the best that’s ever been.” It’s like, “If you’re going to win, you better bask in the glory.” That’s what he’s doing right there.

That’s a strong entry. I’m a big fan of that song too. That’s a top-five country song ever right there. Lots of songs are good because they have a catchy beat or they have a good hook or a good voice. Zac Brown puts it on albums. Zac does it at every concert. That’s a story that people resonate with. That confidence in yourself before you’re going to go negotiate something, before you’re going to close a big deal, before you’re going to go do anything, it’s like, “Do you believe in yourself so much that you would bet everything on yourself?”

My number one song is the stakes are different, but that’s what this whole show is for us. We are two successful executives that says, “This life sucks. We want to go do something else,” and we’re doing it. That’s what that is like you’re putting your belief in yourself up against an eternity in hell. How could you possibly be more self-confident? Maybe if you have LL Cool J’s shoes and Kangol hat, but besides that, that’s it.

That’s what people do when they leave a steady paycheck, a good one. They leave a fiddle of gold against their soul to go do something else. That’s a powerful song for a startup owner. It’s one that I resonate with. I’m giving you a little credit here.

As you transition to this one, Ian’s going to go into Juicy, number three. Who doesn’t love this song? How many times have we listened to this song in a boombox in Vegas?

I feel like it’s cheating a little bit to use Juicy because it’s a good song. It’s like you’re using Charlie Daniels, but for the record, I introduced this song to Frank. Frank had been on a decade vendor of country and I got him back into the hip-hop free art. This one, Notorious BIG, Juicy, has one of the greatest introductions of any songs. It’s a cold open before the beat drops and Biggie comes out and says, “This album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothing.” It goes on to say a few other people that turned off his heat and it was his big middle finger to everyone that said, “This kid from Brooklyn could never make it doing what he was doing.”

This song is powerful because it represents the dream. It represents anyone who’s ever had a dream of doing something big, and everything about it. He doesn’t talk about how he did it. This is the difference between this song. All he talks about is, “Here’s where I was and here’s where I am now, and this could be you.” It gave hope to all those kids in Brooklyn, to all the kids that are struggling in life and everyone does. Everyone had a poster on their wall as a kid. It might’ve been Michael Jordan. It might’ve been a rock and roll band. It could have been anything, but you had a poster and you dreamed of doing something big and everyone can resonate with that teacher that was like the odds of making Major League Baseball. We all heard that from some terrible teacher at some point in their life. When he starts with, “This album is dedicated to all the teachers who told me I’d never amount to nothing.” Who does that not resonate with?

English teachers but besides that, everybody else.

I didn’t have a lot of people telling me I wouldn’t succeed. I didn’t grow up in that exact area. I also wasn’t the obvious pick for most likely to succeed. I’m 5’10”, an average athlete, average grades in high school, but when I hear those words, it fuels me a little bit. It gets me fired up. Biggie was selling crack as a twelve-year-old with a single mom. It’s amazing what he did. The words, “It was all a dream. I used to read Word Up magazine.” Word Up was a rap magazine in the ‘80s that he’s following. He’s saying, “I used to follow all these rappers, Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine.” Hanging pictures on his wall, as I talked about.

He’s saying to everyone listening, “I was a fan like you. If you’re listening to my song, I was you.” That’s always powerful. It doesn’t matter who it is. When someone says, “I was like you,” that’s good writing. That’s good storytelling. Frank and I worked for a home builder and our home builder was a teacher. He started working for a home building company on the weekends to make some extra money and change careers. It’s powerful. His career, he was dead broke from Pennsylvania and started a multibillion-dollar organization. When he would tell that story in front of a bunch of sales reps, it’s inspiring. How do you not look at that and think, “That could be me?” He didn’t say, “I was born with a silver spoon and I was rich.” He said, “I was like you.” That’s what Biggie does well in the song.

This story is about the American dream. This is the difference between hip-hop and country. Hip-hop’s got this song. Country has taken this song and ripped it off and made 400 songs that are like it. They’re not nearly as good, but it’s the same recipe.

His lyric of, “Born sinner, the opposite of a winner. Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner.” You hear that and you’re like, “Damn,” because you know it’s true. He was sitting in a house with no heat because the landlord turned it off, selling crack, eating sardines, mom’s a Jamaican immigrant who works as a preschool teacher doing the best she could, but no one’s raising Biggie. He’s telling you what it was like and then he talks about his change. “I made the change from a common thief to up close and personal with Robin Leach. Girls used to diss me. Now they write letters because they miss me. Living life without fear. Putting five karats in my baby girl’s ear. Lunches, brunches, interviews by the pool. Considered a fool because I dropped out of high school.”

LMSM 21 | Music For Career Inspiration

Music For Career Inspiration: One thing to love about hip hop is the insane amount of confidence that artists have when they go in.

 

Everything about it is, “Look where I was. Look where I’m at now. Look how obnoxiously better my life is. It can happen to you.” It’s impossible to not be inspired by that big voice of his. One of Frank and I’s favorite lines in this is, “My whole crew is lounging. Celebrating every day, no more public housing.” We didn’t grow up in public housing, but I didn’t grow up with a hell of a lot of money in Trenton, Michigan. My dad was a steelworker. Mom was a teacher. We had some lean years when dad was laid off from the steel mill. When I hear that, I get emotional. I get excited because I know my life is in a lot better place now than it was when I was growing up. That’s what my parents wanted for me.

They wanted for me to have more and their grandkids to have more than I had. All of the lyrics in this song, “Birthdays were the worst days.” What he’s saying is there were no presents. “No heat. Wonder why Christmas missed us. Now we sip champagne when we’re thirsty. I like the life I live because I went from negative to positive.” Even the chorus is to every kid listening to that, “You know very well who you are. Don’t let them hold you down. Reach for the stars. You had a goal, but not that many because you’re the only one. I’ll give you good and plenty.” It’s awesome. It’s by far his best song. The beat is great, his voice is great, but it’s aspirational. He doesn’t need to tell you how he did it. He needs to tell you it’s possible. You can go from dead broke, crack dealing, in jail to the biggest star in the country. It can happen to you.

Clearly, this song is incredible and we both love it. I don’t work to it because I can’t get s*** though when I’m listening to stuff like this, but it’s a great song. It’s fun to dance to. It’s fun to party too. This fits very much with what Ian and I talk about all the time. Having goals, going out and achieving those goals, and enjoying it when you do it. It was like 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or 2013 or somewhere in there. I still live in Charlottesville. You and I made an agreement that we were going to each do something cool. If we did, we were going to buy a case of the expensive wine at several thousand dollars. It was not inexpensive. With it, it came with a ceremonial box and on the box, you got anything you want to be inscribed on the box. Do you remember what you put on your box?

It was a lyric from this. I don’t know exactly which lyric it was.

Mine was a different lyric than yours, but the same song. We didn’t talk about this. Mine was “No more public housing,” because that meant to me that I didn’t live in public housing, but I worked for a publicly-traded company and I didn’t work there anymore. I closed a $100,000 deal and I was excited and I blew a couple of grand on something I wanted, which was a bunch of wine. It felt so good to do it. It was fun. I still have that box for many years. I still have it. I still see it. I still smile when I go down and look at it, and get a different bottle of wine. That’s what it’s all about. This is the American dream, live from a kid who’s clearly very different than Ian to me, but in a way, and it’s packaged in the story. It’s fun. It’s upbeat. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Notorious, it’s incredible. If that story is even close to true, how they come up with the song was a blast. That’s going to be hard to compete with.

I’m going to go a bit morose and I’m going to go what music is at its absolute finest, which is a suspension of belief and some willingness to allow your imagination to run wild. This is a song called The Ride, recorded by many different people. It’s a story of poor kid hitching a ride out of the country into a better life, not too different from Biggie, slinging crack rock to get out of the life that he had so he can have heat for him and his mom. “He stumbled from Montgomery, has a guitar in his back. Stranger stops beside him in an antique Cadillac. The guy who picks him up is half-drunk and hollow-eyed, and he says, ‘It’s a long walk to Nashville. Would you like a ride, son?’ He sits down in the front seat, turns on the radio and the songs that come out of the speakers were solid country goals.” You get this sense that you’re getting into like this old Caddy, leather seats, reeks of smoke, the windows are tinted out.

Is it a staple in country music that someone runs into a stranger? There are a lot of strangers in country songs where some stranger gives you amazing advice or a life lesson. That’s a Kenny Chesney staple. He’s always running into a bartender or a guy in a fishing boat that gives them some life-changing advice. It’s not completely believable.

It’s like a c**** rock in Timberlands. They’re all overreacting. It’s the same thing.

It’s always the stranger. Who are these strangers? I never run into strangers that changed my life. That happens all the time with country music.

You’re in the front seat of this car. It’s smoky. It’s the equivalent of being in a lounge and it says, “Hey drifter, can you make folks cry when you play and sing? Have you paid your dues? Can you moan the blues? Can you bend them guitar strings? Hey boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside? Because if you’re big star bound, let me warn you. It’s a long, hard ride.” What I hear with this, it’s not too similar to what I heard above with Johnny playing for the golden fiddle. Did you put in the work? Are you the real deal? Are you going to make it? Are you going to shoot up and you get spit back out? The difference between that, it’s genre choice. To me, country music is a little bit more about warning and preparation about what’s coming.

Rap music is a little bit more about, “Let me show you how I did it,” but this is someone who’s been there, who’s done it and is asking the kid, “You’ve got the goods or are you going to be hiking your a** back at the end of this song?” Here’s what is cool. If you never heard the song, and a lot of people probably haven’t, the guy driving cries South of Nashville, turns the car around. He says, “This is where you get out, boy, because I’m going back to Alabama. As I step out of the Cadillac, I said, ‘Mister, many thanks.’ He said, ‘You don’t have to call me mister, mister. The whole world calls me Hank.’” The guy driving the car is the ghost of Hank Williams Sr. He’s asking this kid, “You’ve got a dream. It’s great. Everybody’s got a dream. You’ve got the goods.” This cool and I’ve never heard this, but in half-a** internet research, I found this.

There's a villain in every good story. Click To Tweet

There’s another verse that I’d never heard and it says this, “You know you’ve got a lot of competition out there. Now that sounded ain’t like it was in the ‘50s when I was here. You’ve got young guns. You’ve got Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, you’ve got Clarke and Billy Joe Shaver, and David Allan Coe, and you even got my son.” That’s what’s cool about country. I’ll make you guess. He’s telling you exactly everything that we said to this point. You’ve got to put in the work or you’re going to be hiking your a** back home.

Another fantastic choice. I love this song. What I love about it is any venture you go into, when you don’t know enough about a subject, you tend to underestimate how difficult it will be to master. There are a couple of psychologists that did something on the Dunning-Kruger effect, where the more you know about a topic, the more you respect it. The less you know about it, the less you think it will be difficult. This song is all about that. It’s about someone who’s done it. Hank Williams suffered a lot to become that star. Alcoholism, drug addiction, no relationship with his son, marriage crushed, him and Hank Jr. were never around each other or didn’t see each other. Hank Williams Sr. is legend because of what he went through, he was famous for that.

This is a song about that psychological effect of, especially when you’re young, you underestimate how easy certain things will be. Everyone writes CEO as your tenure ambitions on the first resume. After five years, you’re like, “I don’t want that job. That sounds hard.” I think it’s a beautiful song in that it’s a reminder that being a big star in this song, anything worth having, you’ve got to be willing to grind. It’s going to be hard and long. If you’re not willing to do it, quit dreaming, stop. Go find another dream that you love enough that you’ll go grind for.

When the rubber hits the road, even if you grind, are you good enough to make people feel what you feel? If you’re not, you’re not going to make it even if you grind.

Hard work helps. Do you have a talent for what you’re going after? You and I don’t have musical talent. The work ethic that we put in and companies would have been a waste of time. Sometimes you’re in the wrong context to work hard. You’ve got to have a talent in what you’re doing.

Not only that, you’ve got to point your effort in the right direction. If you and I work this hard about being underwear models, we’d fail. You’ve got to pick something that you’re good at that has a chance to be successful because if you don’t, you’re going to put in the grind in the toil and it’s not going to be what you want in the end.

Number two, for me, I had to get a Detroit rapper into this and readers can be like, “He picked the most obvious song.” It’s Eminem’s Lose Yourself. The reason why I choose this is I want to deconstruct this because as someone who writes all the time, I’m fascinated by classic story arcs. The reason why this is Eminem’s most popular song is it follows the same plotline of any popular movie of all time. There’s a hero. There’s a high stake, there’s a villain. There’s a hero who suffers tremendously until the very end. There is a turn. There is an inciting incident. I want to go through some of those because he wrote this song. It’s fascinating because it’s for the movie, 8 Mile, and follows the arc of it. It’s interesting that he would write it in a classic movie plotline. Most rap songs do not follow anything like this. Most songs in general do not follow typical movie plotlines.

When did the song come out? Do you remember?

I’m about to throw a number out that’s going to be wrong, 2002 or 2003.

Up until this point, Eminem is a punk. He’s good, but in my life, I thought he was an a******. He was not somebody I related to. He was like on TRL live, but back when I knew what channel MTV was, and he showed up on stage, a bunch of pills came out of his pocket. He was Slim Shady, and I couldn’t relate to him, but that movie and this song was the first time I was like, “This guy is speaking.” For me, it was the first time I was able to connect to his music.

I loved Eminem from the gate because he was Detroit and he was great on Dre’s second Chronic album. Most of what he wrote was a clowning around. You could tell he was an amazing talent. He was a great lyricist. He was a great writer, but he was always clowning and talking about drinking and drugs. This is one of his first songs that got very serious, in my opinion at least, when it came out.

This film came out in the fall of 2002. I did like him from the Chronic 2001, which came out between 1999 and 2001. They released all the songs when the album came out. There was a little bit of this before, but that was the moment for me where he turned the corner.

LMSM 21 | Music For Career Inspiration

Music For Career Inspiration: Many songs are good because they have a catchy beat or they have a good hook or a good voice.

 

The Chronic came out. That was Dre’s album, but then he had The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and he got some other things. If you listen to most of those, there was Stan, there were a few others, but he got real. This is around the time when he started writing a lot. His songs were deeply personal and serious. It was a little bit different approach to life where he was. In the story arc, there’s an opening act like most movies. This is another great cold intro like Notorious BIG, “If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it or would you let it slip?”

His inciting incident is where the turn takes place. His inciting incident, “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.” When you hear that, anyone who’s ever had to get up on a stage, give a public speaking event of any kind, give a speech somewhere. I don’t care how many times you’ve done it, you get a little nervous. Your palms get sweaty, your knees get weak, your heart starts racing. I speak all the time in front of groups. It still happens to me every time even if I’m going to give a little toast, you get a little nervous when it happens. Great songs put you in the shoes of the person who’s writing.

Getting the chops to go on stage and speak is not easy. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be one of the superstars, those in front of 60,000 people, but I’m walking on stage one time at CG and this guy, Tim Golf, who passed away. I’m literally walking up on stage and he’s like, “Do you get nervous?” I’m like, “I usually don’t, Tim, but thanks for making me aware of it.”

That’s like B-Rabbit’s friend in the movie, Cheddar Bob, where when he’s getting ready to go out there, he goes, “Are you nervous they’re going to bring up all that stuff about you like shooting yourself in the leg and they stole your girl?” He’s like, “Thanks.” He goes through and he suffers. “He’s choking now, everybody’s joking now. The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, blaow.” You hear that. A lot of times in your career, when you make a mistake or something, it’s easy to think, “I blew it. I blew everything. That was my one shot.”

There is no one shot. I think that gets overdone a lot as you put so much pressure on one thing, “This presentation. I need to kill it. I only got one shot.” There’s always another shot that’s coming down the road, that’s coming after there, but when you listen to him sing that, every time I have that shot, I do put that pressure on myself. I do treat every major event, every deal I’m trying to close, every major thing I’m doing, I make it seem like it’s the end of the world. I feel him when he says, “The clock ran out, time’s up, over.” To me, there’s a villain in every good story. The villain in this is self-doubt. He’s fighting himself in this song, which is fascinating.

The villain doesn’t even talk about battling someone. He doesn’t talk about the other rapper beating him. He’s talking about himself. He choked, he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. The villain is not the other artists that are up on the stage. He’s the villain. He’s fighting himself. He’s fighting his own self-doubt, and maybe on a secondary level, the villain is poverty because like Notorious BIG, he talks a lot about that. That’s the villain of the story. Do you agree with that?

I do very much. One of the things that turned me off early to hip-hop was the boastfulness of it. In LL Cool J’s second album, he’s telling you he is the best. The last album sold like 32 copies like, “You’re not the best, dude.” As hip-hop started to mature and as hip-hop started to age a bit as a genre, the storytelling got better and this storytelling is incredible. It’s relatable to everybody because he has the talent. He has the skill. He’s got things he’s working against, but in this instance, he’s put in the work. He’s done what he needs to. He knows he can do it. In the lesser moments, he’s risen up and he’s done incredibly well. Now the last hurdle is himself and who hasn’t felt that?

He gives you the stakes, “Lonely roads. God only knows he’s grown farther from home. He’s no father. He goes home and barely knows his own daughter.” Whether you’re a rapper or a traveling salesman or a manager, I traveled all the time in my last job. I’d be gone Monday, be in Cincinnati on Tuesday, on Wednesday, I’d be going to Cleveland, Thursday down in Charlotte, and Friday I’d get home. You’re tired. That resonates with me when I hear something like that, it makes me think about it. There’s an all is lost moment. All the pain is amplified by the fact that I can’t get by with my 9:00 to 5:00. I can’t provide the right life for my family.

You feel it building up in him. With most people, you get some of those feelings and it’s like, you can either hide, quit and give up, or you can get pissed and get mad at yourself and go fight. He has this awakening, “No more games. I’m going to change when you call rage.” That’s awesome. That’s such a powerful line where he tells you about how bad his life as suck and it’s not getting there. “I’m going to make this work. Success is my only mother******* option. Failure is not.” I love that line. The line is good. For anything you’re chasing or going after in your career, in life, you can either let all that pain eat you up or you can let it fuel you and get you pissed and be better. This song is about that. You don’t even know what happens. He tells you here’s what’s happening. Feed, fail me not. That’s it. He leaves it up to you as the listener to figure out what happens next. To me, it’s an incredible story arc. It’s one of the best-written songs in any genre ever and it’s written like a movie.

I want to talk about two things. “The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, blaow.” We talk about that like it’s your only moment. There’s a country song and it’s called Fancy and it’s been around for years and this is a destitute family. The only shot is for fancy to get picked up at a dance. She’s got to look great.

Reba McEntire?

The song bounces around for years before Reba recorded it. It’s the same thing and then there’s poverty. People are dying. The song feels like it’s set in like The Grapes of Wrath era. It’s desperate. With that desperation, you’ve got one shot. What Ian said is it’s not one shot, but that’s something that Ian and I take for granted. We only have one shot. We get to screw-up and we get to do it again. We have built a margin of error in our lives that gives us a shot to have more than one chance, but that doesn’t happen for everybody. That’s the thing where there’s desperation and it’s like, “This is it.” It pivots very nicely into something else.

As screwed up as America is, it's the place where dreams become a reality. Click To Tweet

“Success is my only mother******* option. Failure is not.” We use the term in one of our other show about burning boats. When you burn the boats, you can’t turn back. When you have desperation behind you, when you know that there’s absolutely no way humanly possible, “I will not fail.” We’ve never done an episode on this, but we talked about that we both love it. “Plan B is your plan to fail.” It’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger line. That’s what’s in this song. I got everything working against me. I am my worst enemy, but I am choosing 100% not to do anything other than succeed and he succeeds.

The most beautiful things come from the City of Detroit, if we’re being honest.

My number two, it’s Only In America by Brooks & Dunn. There are a lot of themes in all of this stuff that is similar. They overlap. This song to me is the American dream. It sets it up the way it should. “Sun’s coming up over New York City.” As soon as you think about New York City, the first thing you think of is the traffic jam. “Staring out at faces in a rearview mirror from the bus driver’s perspective, looking out at the promised land. One kid dreams of fame and fortune, one kid helps pay the rent, one kid could end up going to prison, one might be president. Only in America.” Let’s go back to that. The kid is dreaming of fame and fortune. That’s everybody we’ve talked about here. The guy in the ride gets in the car. One kid helps pay the rent. That’s what Ian talked about with Biggie selling crack. One kid ends up going to prison. Biggie and Tupac both. One might be president. Not everybody on this board is dead yet. Who knows?

That’s what’s so cool about this is as screwed up as America is, it’s the place where dreams come to be a reality. Ian and I have a show, I wouldn’t have thought that about us at some point that we would have thought that we have a voice to do something like this when we are kids or that we’d have been able to achieve what we’ve achieved in business. Those are things that it’s because of where we live and it’s because of great opportunity. We dream as big as we want to. We all get a chance. Everybody gets to dance. Only in America. There’s another story in here that’s cool as hell. “Sun is coming up in New York.” It’s the beginning of the song. Here’s how the song ends. “Sun’s going down on an LA freeway,” opposite ends of the country, still on a road, “Newlyweds in the back of a limousine, they’re a welder’s son and a banker’s daughter.” These people from middle America.

I’m the son of an electrician and Ian’s the son of a steelworker and a principal. All they want is everything. That’s what we do in America. We don’t want small. We want huge. He’s a singer in a band and they’re trying, but it’s not working out. She’s a failed actress. They might have to go back to Oklahoma, but they took their shot. They’re in California. Even if they go back to California, what they talk about is they took that shot and they can go back home and talk about what could have been. Eminem made it. These people might not have, but they had a chance to take a shot.

I love the way it starts positive and it ends with not everyone’s going to get this. That’s strong. My line in this, I heard this song for the first time. My previous experience with Brooks & Dunn was the Boot Scootin’ Boogie which I crush at every wedding. I’m awesome with that song. My favorite line in this whole song is, “All they want is everything.” That line is awesome. I think that’s the aspirations, that’s this country, that’s how you’re raised. Every kid growing up is told they can be president or you can do whatever you want and over time, some of those dreams start to die out and that’s okay. You get other dreams that you might not have thought were more important to you. For a lot of people, that’s parenting. Other things become more important, but when you’re younger, all you want is everything and that’s all right. Go for everything. If you come up with a little bit short, you still ended up with a hell of a lot.

That’s when Tupac comes in, to celebrate and enjoy what you got.

Bring a couple of bottles of gin in case you don’t get in. My number one song, and this is my favorite hip-hop song of all time. I couldn’t get through a list without the good doctor. Forgot About Dre by Dr. Dre. I want to talk a little bit about what was going on in Dre’s life in this song and why it’s very important to me, why it resonates so much. Another one that starts, which is an incredible first line, all of my songs seem to have a great first line. It starts with, “You all know me, still the same OG, but I’ve been low key.” This is him coming back and saying, “I’m Dr. Dre. I don’t need to introduce myself to you.”

It’s a little bit like the special you saw with Seinfeld where he said, “I think at this point, I don’t need to introduce myself,” or something to that nature. “We know each other well.” When this song came out, Dre was a legend. I’d been listening to Dre my whole life. Dr. Dre was putting the beats down for NWA. I was hearing him when I was ten years old. He did The Chronic, which was that tape got so much play for me in high school with Snoop Dogg. He did some solo stuff. At that point, he was a legend, how many great songs he had done. He was on Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. He produced all of that stuff. When I heard this, he was already the best and I was excited about this CD coming out.

“Hated on by most of these fools with no cheese, no deals, and no Gs.” When I heard the song, I remember thinking like, “Who hates on Dre? No one hates Dre. He’s an icon.” It’s like saying someone’s hating on Madonna. No one hates on an icon. I did some research on this. Five years earlier, he had left Death Row. He left two different records. He left Eazy-E’s record album first and then he left Death Row. The reason being, he didn’t have much ownership in either one of them. He was an artist getting paid. He was an employee. The way to look at this is Dr. Dre was an employee for the first fifteen years of his career. He was employed.

He was paid. He got bonuses. He wasn’t getting any equity. Eazy-E got all of it. That’s why Ice Cube left also. His equity was terrible in Death Row. Suge Knight worked him over and was getting most of it too. Everything he had done to that point, he had done with others. He then created Aftermath Records. That was all his. That was Dre’s Cava companies and 5on4 Group. The first few albums he did were terrible. They didn’t do well. He had a group called The Firm that he put together and he wasn’t the talent. He was just producing. That’s what he liked to do most of the time. Albums that people never heard of, Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath, the album First Round Knockout.

You haven’t heard of those. There’s not one song on it that I could even tell you about that made the top 50. At this point, people were saying Aftermath flopped, it’s a joke. People were saying that he went broke and is going to go bankrupt. It had been a brutal start. His next line is, “Did you all think I’m going to let my dough freeze? B****, please. You better bow down on both knees. Who you think taught you to smoke trees? Who you think brought you the oldies? Eazy-E’s, Ice Cube’s and DOC’s. The Snoop Doggs and the group that said, ‘Mother**** the police.’” He’s saying, “I’m older. I’m not a has-been.” This resonates with me and I don’t know about you, but after GE, I went to another company and it was like, “I was good at GE, am I going to still be good? Am I going to able to bring that magic? Is it me or is it them?” I did good at another company. I left to do it all on my own.

LMSM 21 | Music For Career Inspiration

Music For Career Inspiration: Anything worth having is going to be hard. If you’re not willing to do it, quit dreaming and find another dream that you love enough that you’ll grind for.

 

I’m always thinking, “Have I peaked?” I’m always stressing out that I peaked. “Have you seen the best of me?” What I love about this is Dre is like, “I’m the dude that brought you, NWA, Snoop Dog. I brought you Ice Cube. I produced all of that. I’m the same guy. I still have the same talent. I’m announcing that I’m not going anywhere and I’m not a has-been.” At this point, what I love about the song is Dre saying, “It’s not about the money. I’m rich. I want respect. I want to remind you that I can do this myself and that my record album is good.” He then says, “You all better listen up closely. All of you that said that I turned pop or The Firm flopped, you’re the reason I’ve been getting no sleep.” I love that.

When I listen to that again, he’s rich. He’s wildly successful. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s got multiple platinum, but he’s telling you that haters are keeping him from sleeping peacefully. A guy with all of that, living in a mansion, is not sleeping because others are telling them that he flopped. “All I get is hate mail all day saying, ‘Dre fell off.’ What? because I’ve been in the lab with a pen and a pad, trying to get this label off.” I love this line because when you start a business, you go off the grid. I know I did. You go from everyone sees you all the time. You’ve got a big job. You’re talking to your network to your scribbling on whiteboards and trying to figure out how to spend your day and what to do.

I look at my last three years as being in the lab with a pen and a pad, and I went off the grid. Generally, when you start a business, you’re just eating a big plate of c*** all the time. For this show, no one even knew what we were doing. We were quietly recording stuff, but not sharing it with anyone and I loved that. He finishes with, “I’m not having that. This is my millennium of Aftermath. Won’t be anything after that. Give me one more platinum plaque and f*** rap. You can have it back.”

It’s so good. He doesn’t care about the money. He wants you to know, “I’m the same dude, and I’m going to crush it. I’m going to show you that I’ve got nothing left to prove, but I’m still talented.” It’s such an incredible comeback story. It’s a start-up story. It’s about starting a business. It’s a rebirth story. He called the shot. This is one of the bestselling hip-hop albums of all time. It brought Eminem out into the fold. He found Eminem in here, Chronic 2001 killed it. This song to me is everything about business life fighting, coming back. It’s my favorite hip-hop song. It’s by far the one that inspires me the most in business.

This is where I’ve won this by a landslide. This has been on every workout tape I’ve had since 2001, but this is not for work. I want to come back and touch on a couple of things. Straight Outta Compton’s the movie which most people have seen, but The Defiant Ones is a four-part documentary. It’s six hours long. You’ve seen that. It’s incredible. It talks about the struggles and a lot of what we’re talking about here. “You all better listen closely if you think The Firm flopped.” That is awesome. That’s what we’ve talked about putting a chip on your shoulder. This is the difference between being satisfied and having an ego and pushing yourself in a way where it’s an, “I’m not going to just be satisfied with a corner office job. I’m not going to be satisfied with all these things that I’ve had in the past.” You make others your enemy and you give yourself the fuel that you need. Haters were keeping Dre from sleeping peacefully. This reminds me of the line in World War II. “We’ve woken a sleeping giant.” You’ve got somebody who now is immensely talented, who has incredible resources, and now they’re pissed.

You’ve given them the motivation to work sixteen-hour days, even though they don’t need to.

When you’re pissed off and it’s properly funneled like, “Watch out.” I say this still, “I’m going to get back in the lab with a pen and a pad.” That is what it’s about. Planning season every year in your business. When you want to iterate and change, you’ve got to get back in the lab. What I’m doing in my business now is I’ve got a lot of people who run things. I’m trying to kick a few things off and like, “I’m on vacation. I’m in a freaking rented office space doing this because it’s something I want to do and I’m passionate about it.” If you don’t have that level of motivation, you never get there. Realizing that you do have to go off the grid and you have to take a couple of steps back to go forward is right there.

The other thing I think that’s cool is, the Suge Knight thing, he had to reinvent himself. He went to jail. That wasn’t replicate-able. He overcorrected and it was lame, but what he realized is, “I can still be edgy, but I don’t have to break the law and go to jail.” I don’t know that line very well, but that’s a line he had to find. Once he found that line, he’s like, “I found it. I’m calling my shot. F*** rap. You can have it back,” which is awesome.

Even someone with his talents and his resources, what I love about it is he still has to chin up the motivation for himself. It’s like Tom Brady saying, “No one thinks we’re any good.” It’s like, “Who said that? No one’s saying you’re not any good.” He’s like, “People are saying I’m too old or too slow.” It’s like, “No one’s saying that. You have five championships,” but he convinced himself, “I’m not sleeping at night. I’ve got all these haters. I’m going to go show them.” He had nothing left to prove, but he’s still doing it, finding new ways to motivate himself.

That’s the trick. Dee Snider, who we’ve talked about, Twisted Sister, he couldn’t come up with the angst that made him famous, and because of that, they had a couple of good albums, and then that’s it. They are the ‘80s Hair Band album and that’s it. Nothing new is coming out, but Dre is still pumping out the good stuff. I’m going to move over to my favorite song which is What I Almost Was. As an overview of it, unlike Only In America where it might not work out for people, the person in this story is Eric Church. He is a high school football star. He’s going to be a college football star, takes a play, and his knee gets blown out. He tries to go to college and he’s not as good as he was.

He gets sent home packing, leaves the college and flicks off the coach, goes back home, and moves in with his mom. He has to rehabilitate himself and got to come up with a new goal. While he’s doing that, I’m not sure what the new goal is. He meets a girl. She’s beautiful and rich. He fast-forwards and looks ahead of his life and he says, “For the rest of my life, I’m going to be wedded to this beautiful woman and a rich dad. The only person I’m going to be accountable to is the two of them. That’s no kind of life for me.” The third thing he does is he says, “I’m moving to Nashville,” like the guy from The Ride, “buy a guitar and I’m going to get in there and I’m going to play.”

In his song, in the story, he isn’t rich. He isn’t famous. He’s a guy on a barstool playing for tips. The coolest thing is this. “I’ve been putting in time on 16th Avenue, pouring out my heart for tips on a stool. I ain’t making a killing, but then there are those nights when the song comes together and hits them right. The crowds on their feet because they can’t get enough of this music I make and I love.” The note I put was he isn’t rich. He could have been, but he’s doing what he wants and how he wants to do it. That is how we define freedom. Isn’t that what we’re all chasing anyways?

Right out of the gate, the first stanza always hits people. We’re all hopeful that we’re going to be better athletes than most of us are going to be. For any of us that have known an actual professional athlete, there’s so much better than the Average Joe. It’s outrageous, but he’s talking about, he’s going to get a four-year full ride and everyone thinks some of that, “I’ll grow a little more in high school. I’ll get big enough, I’ll be faster.” With time, most people look back and think, “I’m glad I didn’t try to keep pursuing sports after high school. I’m glad I moved on.” That resonated with me. Frank played this one for me. I just learned about it.

Right out of the gate, I could’ve tried to walk on at Purdue on the baseball team and I had to start all over again and be a bullpen catcher. I wouldn’t have been any good and I would have wasted an entire four years of college saying I was on it. Who gives a s***? I had more fun doing what I did. I’m glad I didn’t do that. I’m glad I didn’t try to proceed on some of this. This song reminded me of the other country song by Garth Brooks which is Unanswered Prayers, where you look at what your life could have been, but when you stop and look with experience, “No, I wouldn’t change it.” We talked about this in our regrets show. You and I struggled to come up with real regrets because we’re happy with the way things are going. If we went back and changed something, what else would we have to give up now that we enjoy what we’re doing? I wouldn’t change many things about it because it would change too many other things.

I want to wrap it up by saying this, all of these songs to me are very similar. They’re all about what makes America incredible. It’s about interesting people, people overcoming, people choosing, people picking, people doing what’s best for them, going out, and creating a life hopefully that you want. There are two cool stories and they both happen to come back to high school football. I was telling my parents I was going to be a pro football player in middle school, and I wasn’t good enough. This was the first time my mom ever said to me, “Are you sure?” She questioned it.

She wasn’t in a way that was condemning and anything. I always still had fun playing, but I was in 6th or 7th grade, and the seed of doubt crept in my head. About 5 or 6 years later, I’m a senior in high school and I make it All County and Broward County, which is above Dade. It’s where Fort Lauderdale is. It’s a hotbed of high school athletes and kids who go on to play in college. I graduated from high school. I don’t play in college. Years go by, I’m 5 or 6 years removed from high school. I got a phone call from the Sun Sentinel. In my head, it’s Dan Le Batard but I don’t think it was him. It was somebody else who was writing about kids in sports locally.

He’s like, “We’re doing an exposé on the last ten years of kids who made the All County team. We wanted to catch up with you.” I’m like, “Okay.” He talks to me. There are about 25 kids every year that make it for offense, defense and special teams. He went back about ten years with 250 kids. I was the only kid who didn’t play in college. I didn’t walk on. I didn’t do anything. He goes, “You’re the most remarkable person on this list. You’re the only one who didn’t play. Why?” I said, “I knew I wasn’t good enough. I was going to have to make the sacrifice of, ‘Do I want a subpar education or do I want to chase an old dream?’ I didn’t want to chase the old dream. I wanted to go get a great education.”

I went to the University of Florida and I started life over. I came to that realization and all 250 of those kids came to that realization. At some point, some of those kids were in the Hall of Fame for NFL Football. Some of them were that good. Most of them came and made the decision I made later and slower, but I was fortunate. My mom planted that seed of doubt in my head when I was in the seventh grade. By the time the twelfth grade was over, I knew it was over and I made a better choice. I went on a path that was better for me. That’s what’s cool about these things. You get to pick, but if you don’t pick properly, you can end up in the ground like Tupac. You can pick the wrong career or stay there too long, or you don’t get what you ultimately want onto your life. That’s one of the things that Ian and I want to talk about is we’re happy with where we’re at. Is it perfect? No, but we’re happy with it because we made some choices that led us here.

It’s clear to everyone to the readers that I won, but I want to say that I think you gave your best for the genre that you were given. I appreciate that you tried as hard as you did. You came in second. You finished in the top two, which is incredible. If you agree that I came in first, or if you think that Frank did either way, please leave a five-star rating out there and write a nice review. Tell us in the review. Put us in your comments. Did you like country or hip-hop? Who won this one? My mom won’t like it because I had to swear more because there are no swears in country lyrics. I swear more now. It was art. Frank, it was great hanging out with you. Great effort.

Thanks, Ian.

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