Listen Here!

It’s the end of the Summer here in ASP land.

As muddy boots and smelly work pants are being cleaned across the country, Counties are loading up, returning to the Porch to wrap up the summer, and reflecting on the memories that won’t be washed away (man, that was smooth).

This Summer, my 1998 Chevy Blazer “Irene” and I have driven thousands of miles to visit 16 counties across the four states we currently serve. I have listened to countless albums, called my mom, and attempted to get into audiobooks (they make me too tired). Because many counties and some volunteers are making the long drive to home base this week, I wanted to switch things up and create something to keep the good vibes going.

With the help of the Story Gathering Team and some fellow staffers, I have compiled a list of songs that have defined my ASP experience. I present to you now, for your consideration and listening pleasure, the “Ultimate ASPlaylist.”

Use the button up top or click here to listen along as you read. I hope that you enjoy it!

#1- “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive,” by Travis Tritt

I want to start us off with an ASP classic. “It’s A Great Day To Be Alive” represents part of what makes ASP so fun— the delight in experiencing life. Sure, there may be hard times in the neighborhood, like when we mess up vinyl siding or forget to measure twice, but at the end of it all we look back and realize that we can rest in our experience. No matter how hard of a day ASPeople have had, if you play this song, I guarantee that heads will nod, toes will tap, and people will sing with a smile.

Favorite lyric: “And it’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes.”

#2- “I’ll Fly Away”- Gillian Welch

Next up, is my favorite gospel song of all time. I first heard this song in my grandparent’s church and have since found respite in its imagery. Even if you’re not particularly religious, this song offers an opportunity to dream of better days ahead where pain and sorrow fade away. At the end of a long day, “I’ll Fly Away” is a reflection and acknowledgment of the tiredness of our bones and the weariness of our souls while wrapping us in the arms of better days to come.

Favorite lyric: “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away. To a land where joys will never end, I’ll fly away.”

#3- “18 Wheels on a Big Rig” by Trout Fishing in America

The first time I heard “18 Wheels on a Big Rig,” I was sitting in Jonesville with Center Director Julia Landis. I remember watching in awe as she recounted almost every word of this weird, strange song. Since then, I play it whenever there is a general pick-me-up since it’s hard to be in a bad mood while counting to 18 in Roman numerals. I hope that you take the chance to listen to this absolute masterpiece and see if you can indeed count the number of wheels on a big rig.

Favorite lyric: “I will now attempt to divide the wheels of a big rig by pi.”

#4- “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

I mean, come on now. How can you be in the mountains and not feel the urge to sing along, especially if you’re working in West Virginia? “Country Roads” is a love song to the mountains and the curvy asphalt we get to drive each day. For many of us, it is almost heaven and the place that most feels like home. No ASP trip is complete without this song— and it better hold a prime spot-on whatever playlist you’re using.

Favorite Lyric: “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”

#5- “Rocky Top” by The Osborne Brothers

Oh, Rocky Top, Tennessee. The lyrics to this song, though bizarre and fast-paced, are as lively as the Appalachian culture we get to witness. Not only do we get to add fun whoops and hollers, but I’ve also never heard so many people clap unsuccessfully to a beat and still have a grand ole’ time. After spending time up here, these mountains will always feel like home, sweet home, to me. I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent in them and for the memories I’ve made with the people who have clapped right alongside me.

Favorite Lyric: “I’ve had years of cramped-up city life trapped like a duck in a pen. All I know is it’s a pity life can’t be simple again.”

#6- “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

I mean, what a song. The energy, the spark, the straight-up vibes, that come out of this song. Whether you know the old version or the new, something in these words awakens what a homeowner once called “A feel-good feeling” deep within my soul. I remember singing this with the Wise County staff onstage at the Country Cabin, possibly one of my favorite moments of the Summer. Plus, I’m from Raleigh and writing this blog from Johnson City, Tennessee, so I had to represent for purely selfish reasons.

Favorite Lyric: “And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free.”

 #7- “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band

I mean, who doesn’t love a pair of ASP work jeans that fit just right (or at least can be held up with a belt?). When the heavens parted and gave way to this song, little did they know that hundreds of kids would boot-scoot to a song about what it means to love the little things in life. As I’ve written before, the small moments are what mean the most in life and in ASP. The laughs over sandwiches, the clink of Ale 8’s, the floor time with your staff. This song is our anthem, an ode to those little moments.

Favorite Lyric: “Well it’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most, not where you live or what you drive or the price tag on your clothes. There’s no dollar sign on a peace of mind, this I’ve come to know.”

#8- “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

No other song on this playlist speaks more to ASP’s mission statement than “Lean on Me,” specifically the soul-filled crooning of Bill Withers in his version. Though we might not say it, by serving others we are showing our support and our love through our bodies and our actions. Whether on staff, on a job site, or as a homeowner, we all need someone to lean on and we can all be pillars of support for others. Take this song as a chance to recenter yourself in that mission, as a reminder of why we do what we do each day.

Favorite Lyric: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For, it won’t be long, ‘till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”

#9- “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Chris Rice

“Come Thou Fount” is a strange comfort for many ASPeople. We utter the lyrics, not knowing entirely what they mean, but understanding their significance all the same. One time, the lyrics were explained to me and to be honest, I don’t remember their context. But every time I hear the first few words, I know immediately that I am giving thanks for the day, for the earth, for the life I get to live. We are truly blessed, and may we never forget to be indebted for it.

Favorite lyric: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”

 #10- “Neon Moon” by Brooks & Dunn

Last, but most certainly not least, is a country classic that has been co-opted as one of the ultimate ASP sing-a-longs. “Neon Moon” is one of those songs that everyone mysteriously knows the words to and can scream along. I’ve heard this song over ASP slideshows, on worksites, and in vans. Just like the lyrics tell us that there’s a community for the broken under the moon, we find exactly that in the times that we sing these (definitely ASPropriate) lines.

Favorite lyric: “When the sun goes down on my side of town, that lonesome feeling comes to my door, and the whole world turns blue.”

That’s my list! It may look a little short to you, but I’m hoping that you guys will help us fill it up. Let us know what songs feel like ASP to you, and you may see them on the playlist soon.

My Takeaway for this week is to take a note from The Doobie Brothers and listen to the music. Embrace and enjoy the long car rides and the clean-up because you never know how much you may miss the moment until it’s gone.

Safe travels!

Lauren Rhodes

Story Gathering Intern