You’re not supposed to say the word Epilepsy, in a song.
It’s just another Saturday night and you are probably busy. You are a big country music Celebrity, and I am just one of millions — one of millions of Americans living with epilepsy, so I do not expect you to read this letter any more than you expected your 17 year old self to hear “If I Could Write A Letter To Me.”
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You see, I am a member of a country club that has “the most loyal fan base in the world.” I have modest talent and a mountain of faith that motivates me to warn you even though I have a history of being ignored. If I were to write a letter about epilepsy it would probably be stored on an old Epilepsy Foundation website. I would hop your fence and hand deliver this message personally if it would help, except everyone knows that only happens in fairy tales.
I think that someone has stolen your identity.
I love your music. As recently as Valentine’s Day I referenced one of your songs. You know the song where you thank all the loyal fans? To your credit, you mostly thanked the fans of Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney. This shows that you are smart and compassionate. If I reach you, you might understand. So, here goes nothing. On Sunday, I returned to Fresno County for a memorial. I wore my cowboy boots to the service, because I respected my godmother, but I missed ABC’s new reality show Rising Star. I think that you missed it too.
Rising Star premiered last Sunday, June 22, 2014. (I recorded the two hour show, but I could only watch the first hour.) No, the singer did not give me a seizure as the Brad Paisley character claimed. So, now you probably know why I am writing. There is a guy who looks just like you on the show. He claims to be Brad Paisley, but he acts more like Jason Alexander with soy latte withdrawals. FOR THE LOVE OF CHEESE! Tell me that the Brad Paisley on Rising Star is an impostor. You think I am joking, but look how easy it was for someone like me to become American Cool (and Taylor Swift, and an Outkast fan, George Strait, Gwen Stefani’s friend, the missing member of Little Big Town, YOU, Flavor Flav, Cheryl Crow, Waylon, Bocepheus, Travis Tritt… HONEY BUNNY’S BOYFRIEND!) You and William Shatner are friends. If you can’t make it to Hollywood, ask Shatner to find your impostor, and have Shatner beam him or her up. (Parker Posey could be acting as Brad Paisley.)
WAIT! Find Shatner! This program is ludicrous enough that Shatner would pretend to be you so that he could steal your Velveeta. He’s Shameless.
On the way, you will need a backup plan if the real Brad Paisley does not appear. I’m thinking that you will need to change your name. You could become, “The artist formerly known as the accidental racist.” What, too soon? In December 2009 when I wrote “Country Music, The New Black,” I argued that country music was designed for the internet and search engines. “It was as if country musicians are embedding links into their song lyrics.” Every time I hear that song, it becomes further embedded in my memory. If I could build a park, I would name it after you. I would call it… Brad Park. Do you feel the support? I support you now. I supported you… Then.
I loved the sentiment behind “Welcome to The Future,” and I even appreciated your duet with LL Cool J. Did you offend people? Sure, but you tried. Everyday is a revolution, and Americans do not know how to talk about race. White people do not know how to talk with each other. You actually tried! You may have offended people, because you tried. That is Revolutionary, like “around the world in a day” revolutionary. I would have climbed on the back of your motorcycle and rode with you to the lake.
There is still time for you to remind me why I said that you were part of the same American musical tradition as Johnny Cash. Five years ago I wrote that Cash “played for prisoners at Folsom Prison to illustrate that he wasn’t any better than the prisoners. He realized that he was lucky, and that at any moment, he could become unfortunate again. He knew that by telling people’s stories, with humility and sensitivity, he could honor people.”
Would Cash have told a seizure joke to a live national audience and then given a half-ass apology?
Brad I need you to get to Hollywood and do me a favor. I need you to find the impostor (maybe grab a lime on the way) and tell him or her what to do with the apology. (You know, the one that started with, “If you are offended….”
NOTE: on Sunday June 29, 2014 I added the link to the next post. The next post also has a different title now, but the title referencing Ed King is mentioned.