"I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, and for that one moment I could be you. Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you."
-- Bob Dylan
My name is Fletcher, and I'm a musicholic.
OK, that's not shocking even to the people who "never bother reading any of your drivel" (but still are aware enough to know what a clueless AH I am, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.)
Still, given my affliction, it would stand to reason that I would be excited about the Georgia Throwdown music and arts festival Friday-Sunday at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds. Journalistic detachment be damned, I'm like a kid -- sure, a 56-year-old kid, but still -- waiting on the week before Christmas as I've counted down the days to the festival.
In my excitement, though, I can't help but wonder about the people who've criticized me and this newspaper for giving the event the coverage it deserves and those who've gone a step further and taken potshots at Sam Shugart, Bo Henry, Evan Barber, Justin Andrews and others who are planning the Throwdown. I wonder what makes the lives of people like that so miserable that they can't just ignore something they're not interested in, they have to denigrate anyone who has a part in it.
Not that anyone particularly cares what they think.
But for those of you who have taken the low road and decided that you want the world to know just how opposed you are to the biggest entertainment event to ever come to this community -- and, sadly, people dumb enough to listen to you -- let me tell you just how big the Throwdown is.
-- Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd had their biggest hits in the '70s ("Sweet Home Alabama," "Free Bird," "Tuesday's Gone," "Simple Man," "That Smell"), but that doesn't mean the band forgot how to create its signature Southern rock sound. In fact, Skynyrd's excellent new album, "Last of a Dyin' Breed," which was released Aug. 21, entered the Billboard album chart at No. 14, the band's highest debuting chart position since 1977.
And, yes, this is not the "original" Lynyrd Skynyrd. A tragic plane crash that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines and the 2001 death of bassist Leon Wilkeson assured that. But certainly original member Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlock, who came on board back in 1970 before the band hit it big, and Ronnie's brother Johnny Van Zant have earned their Skynyrd stripes.
-- Four of the artists playing at the Throwdown are listed among the acts that had the 40 most popular songs in September on the country music charts. Colt Ford's "Back" was No. 39 for the month, Randy Houser's "How Country Feels" was at No. 33, Big and Rich's "That's Why I Pray" finished the month at No. 24, and Easton Corbin's "Lovin' You Is Fun" was at No. 22.
Flash forward to last week's country countdown, and Howser was up to No. 26, Big & Rich to No. 22 and Corbin was occupying the rarified air of the Top 10 at No. 7 with a bullet.
-- People from all over the Southeast, eager to find an inexpensive weekend getaway, are planning to come to Albany, Georgia for three days. Not Atlanta. Not the Gulf or Atlantic beaches. Not Savannah or Macon or Augusta. They're going to eat at restaurants here, shop with local retailers, buy their gas and other necessities at our stores and fill up our hotels.
For those armed with their ever-present "So what?" attitude, here's so what: By the time Monday morning rolls around, Albany retailers will collectively be several million dollars richer.
So, all you haters, detractors, buzz-killers, complainers who would rather not see a ray of sunshine in your world of doom and gloom, a little advice. By 3 p.m. Friday, I suggest you lock yourselves up in the closets your fanatic parents must have put you in when you were kids. Either that, or pack up your ratty-looking little dogs that are the only things who understand you and go visit a sick aunt or something.
The rest of us ... we'll be rocking.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.