This post is a contribution from Tim Stafford, founding member of bluegrass supergroup Blue Highway, and a celebrated and sought-after songwriter and producer outside of the band. He was also a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station before the advent of Blue Highway.
Thanks to Brance Gillihan for asking me to say a few words here. I thought I”d shed a little light on a song I often get asked about, Some Day. This song appeared on Blue Highway”s Midnight Storm CD on Rebel Records in 1998 and has become our most-requested song. I”ve had countless folks tell me that they”ve either played the song or had it played at funerals; it”s even in wills for that purpose. It”s also been recorded a couple dozen times by other groups since then. The song makes a visceral impact on people, and the reason is simple: the heartfelt lyrics from a country woman who wanted to write her own eulogy.
My wife Trish showed me her Aunt Olive”s eulogy years ago. Olive Stockton was born in Ohio and married Jim Stockton from Flag Pond, TN. (Incidentally, Jim was the subject of another song of mine, Clay and Ottie while his brother Fred inspired Uncle Fred) They moved to Limestone, TN in Washington County, sang in a gospel quartet and she played piano in church. Trish says Olive was a voracious reader who always kept books for the kids to borrow. She often sent poems to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, which was happy to publish them. Olive was a small, petite woman who was very soft-spoken and admired by everyone who knew her. I never met her, but everyone who did still smiles and speaks in glowing terms about her generosity and gentle spirit. At the time she wrote Some Day, she had four children and several grandchildren; she didn”t want people to grieve over her when she passed because her faith was strong. This is why the song”?even though it”s about death–is still very hopeful.
I had the scrap of paper with the eulogy on it when Blue Highway was at the end of its first long road trip in late June 1995. We had played in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada, and were winding things up at the Black Hills Bluegrass Festival outside Rapid City, South Dakota. I had played this festival a few times before with other groups and knew Doug Thomas, Carol McConnell and other wonderful folks involved in promoting the event. Carol let some of us stay at her house and while she was gone one day, we had a practice session. The band was still just getting started and looking for new material. I brought out the poem and suggested that we make it into a song. The others asked how it went and I just started singing it. As far as I can remember, I hadn”t thought of a melody before then, so it was surprising how it just came out. The arrangement came together with Wayne singing lead, Shawn tenor, me baritone and Jason bass. We performed it for the first time at the Black Hills Festival a few days later, gathering around one mic because the sound system was minimal, as I recall. When we recorded it two years later, we gathered around a big Soundfield microphone and sang it live just like we still perform the song onstage.
To say Some Day has been a real gift to us is an understatement. I”m so glad people can take comfort from the message, and if they do, I feel it”s Aunt Olive reaching right out to them and holding their hands.
(Words by Olive Stockton; Music by Tim Stafford)
Some day when my last line is written
Some day when I”ve drawn my last breath
When my last words on earth have been spoken
And my lips are sealed in death:
Don”t look on my cold form in pity
Don”t think of me as one dead
It will just be the house I once lived in
My spirit by then will have fled
I”ll have finished my time here allotted
But I won”t be in darkness alone
I will have heard from heaven
The summons to come on home
And when my body is in the grave
Don”t think that I”ll be there
I won”t be dead, but living
In the place Jesus went to prepare
And after all is said and done
Know that my last earnest prayer
Was that my loved ones be ready
Some day to meet me there
??? Daniel House Music, BMI