This is the first of what will be many posts about the people who make Middle Tennessee special. I love stories about people. Each of us has a story and we should all be sharing it with others. At the end of this post…please tell me your story. I’d love to read it.
There are days and then there are DAYS…days that make you really appreciate life more than normal and you’re glad the alarm clock went off and got you out of bed!
One of those days happened today. I had the honor of spending a couple of hours with Grammy Award Nominated Songrwriter, Bob Regan and what a treat!
I met Bob when he was performing at Puckett’s Grocery in Downtown Franklin at the Singer/Songwriter Night. This is when the songwriters sing their own songs, and tell the story behind the song. It’s the coolest thing, especially if you like to hear stories like I do. He sang songs that moved me to tears and I knew I had to talk to him and share his brilliance with you. Thankfully, he agreed.
Bob Regan isn’t just a songwriter…he’s a very accomplished songwriter who has written for a host of singers including, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams, Jr., Roy Rogers and Kenny Rogers and he was nominated Grammy Country Song of the Year for Randy Travis’ “Dig Two Graves.” You can read Bob’s bio by visiting here. These accolades merely tell you the kind of storyteller and songwriter that he is.
The man has heart and soul and he’s modest, probably because he remembers what it was like starting out in Nashville in 1985. You don’t forget when you’re first publishing contract brought you a mere $100 a week and you have a family of four to feed. But 30 years later, and a whole lot of work and life experience, he’s well known and very respected.
He’s played the clubs…played the Grand Ole Opry for seven years with Jeannie Pruett, and put in his time in as a studio musician.
“I finally figured out that my best day as a songwriter would get me further than my best day as a guitar player.” Bob played for me and I’m pretty sure he knows his way around a guitar.
The guitars line the wall in Bob’s studio.
But today’s visit was about his newest passion…the non-profit he founded, Operation Song.
It all began when Bob toured with the Armed Forces Entertainment Songwriter Band. They traveled the world performing for our military men and women and “they all connected with the music…the stories. Songwriters are therapists,” Bob told me.
He was moved by the band’s experiences abroad and wanted to do something here in the United States. “I always have my songwriter antennae up, because everywhere you go there’s a story to be told. Our Vets were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with too much trauma…too many injuries and not enough understanding and I thought; what can I do to make a difference?”
It took 18 to 24 months for Operation Song to become a reality. Bob kept reaching out to military bases and finally made a connection with the VA in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Operation Song, through Bob’s guidance, has one purpose and that is…
To help our Vets order their thoughts…get their story written and put to music…the music that Bob Regan writes. He wants each soldier who suffers from trauma to have a physical song that tells his/her story. Each session is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours long and in that time, Bob somehow gets the soldier sitting across from him to open up.
I asked how he did this and he wasn’t really sure. But I am. Some people you just trust and Bob Regan is one those men. He just gets these men and women to start talking and then they start writing. As Bob says, “We’ve never had a bust!” (Oh…I love this story!)
Bob prefers the one-on-one process, but also works in groups and he holds retreats. Now here’s where it gets even better. His songwriter buddies join him in the group and retreat process. These are just folks doing the right thing… getting it done and making a difference.
Each story touches Bob’s heart, but he doesn’t rest until it’s a song that “each soldier can be proud of.”
In honor of Memorial Day, Bob sat down with Don Goodman (another Nashville legend), and veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and wrote Last Monday in May. Take a few minutes to listen to the lyrics by clicking the link above. There’s no way this song can’t touch your heart. Warning: Get your Kleenex out.
Bob’s ultimate goal is to be able to have enough money in the Operation Song coffers to touch more soldiers, but mostly to have each one come to the studio and be physically present as their song is recorded live. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?
This Memorial Day, you can do something to help a Vet and anything would be greatly appreciated. Please go here and make a donation. It WILL make a difference in someone’s life. And while you’re at it…check out Operation Song on Facebook, hit “Like” and let Bob know that we’re paying attention.
Full disclosure…I do not work for Operation Song. I do not receive any compensation from Operation Song. I believe and trust that this new non-profit can make a huge difference in a Veteran’s life and I hope you do, too.
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