“Be My Baby Tonight” – John Michael Montgomery

When I sent the playlist for this project to Lucas, he listened to the entirety of the 29 songs with no context and this was his first comment: “There was one song that I had to skip. I just couldn’t listen to it.” I was sure this was the one. It is the epitome of 90’s country and when I tell you we danced to Shania Twain at our wedding, that is one of the greatest gifts of our very complicated relationship negotiations. But, I was wrong. So, just know there’s more musical fun to come.

The year was 1994. John Michael Montgomery was the hottest thing on the country scene. I can sing way too many of those gems, even still today. Oh, the brain cells that I have dedicated to song lyrics. I’m so sorry art history. You never stood a chance. Instead, I embraced all things JMM and the Grundy County auction. Sold.

A wonderful thing happened to me in the Fall of 1994. For the first time in my life I felt like I found my people. I can remember sitting on the floor with friends that September and I just had a coming home. I was 19. I was loving life, and this song reminds me of it. You see, back in the day, we were creative musical geniuses when it came to selling our Greek organizations. Could you, would you, ain’t you gonna be a KD tonight? Yep. And, I got to sing it. Absolute genius.

If you knew me from the Fall of 1994 – Spring of 1996, you had a window into a really rare sighting. When I look back on my seasons of growth, I have always condemned this season. For so many reasons, I threw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to making peace with the then. And then this song magically appeared to jump out of my speaker this Fall and it made sense.

This song is the fun factor. It’s the perfect example of a time when I didn’t take myself so seriously. It was also the only time in my life prior to 2020 that I was not in church every week. College was the best. And it wasn’t just the freedom and tomfoolery. It was an opportunity to think for myself. It was knowing that I messed up and not hating myself for it. It was deeply connecting with people about the things that mattered and the things that didn’t matter at all. Most people go to college to get an education. My education was in independence and it was so important.

If you know the story of the following 25 years…the scaffolding of my life was religion. It gave me the tools that I needed to keep the project of my life moving. Especially when that pesky humanity got in the way. But on this side of the construction zone, I have embraced the warmth of a non-judgmental scavenger hunt for the moments not celebrated. And college was one of those. Because, lets be honest about all the changes in me and the world – being a Baylor grad is not always popular. Especially in my heart. But my memories of some of the greatest moments of really saying “what if” came in the wonder and joy of that season. I laughed. And did a lot of other things. But, I love those memories. This year, I have drawn on the wisdom of that season that I have often ignored in adulthood.

I have some great ideas about returning to my care-free self. And some of my best dreaming has already produced more in body ink and “HELL YES” moments than my 1996 self would have known what to do with. I kinda thrive on surprising her these days. So, I’m just gonna be over here dreaming about what it takes to be a rhinestone Romeo, and I’m totally here for it. Let me know, JMM.

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