Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sara Evans -- "Missing Missouri" (2005)

Where they love me
Where they know me
Where they show me 

Where is this place that Sara Evans is singing about?  (Pretend you didn't see the song's title above, although you would have to be pretty damn clueless to have missed it.)

There's a clue in the last line that is quoted above, but it's a pretty subtle one.  Here's another excerpt from the song that provides a second clue:

Every time my bus wheels hit the Bootheel
There's no limelight, and I'm all right
'Cause I'm almost home

If you still don't get it, just take a gander at the title above -- she's talking about Missouri, of course.

When Sara Evans recorded this song, she lived in Nashville -- she first moved there in 1991 when she was just 20 years old, and has lived most of her adult life there.  

But home isn't where you move when you're 20 years old.  It's where you grow up -- where you go to high school.  Sara Evans could live in Nashville until she was a hundred and it wouldn't be home.

Sara Evans in high school
Home for Sara Evans was New Franklin, Missouri, a town of just over 1000 souls that's just north of the Missouri River and pretty much right smack dab in the center of "The Show Me State."  Missouri is home for Sara Evans -- and for me -- in a way that no other place ever can be. 

(Note: Sara Evans was born in nearby Boonville, Missouri, which presumably was the nearest town to New Franklin that had a hospital.  Boonville, which was named after Daniel Boone, is located in Cooper County.  Just to the east of Cooper County is Boone County, also named after Daniel Boone.  Why Boonville didn't end up in Boone County is a mystery to me.  Why the "e" got dropped from Boonville is also a mystery to me.)

I don't know a lot about the six albums that Sara Evans has recorded since moving to Nashville and becoming a big country star.  I only know about this song because my younger sister gave me the singer's 2005 album, Real Fine Place, which includes "Missing Missouri."  (My sister's a bigger fan of mainstream country music than I am.  My daughters are also fans of mainstream country -- I have no idea how that happened.)

Like me, my sister was also born in Missouri and lived there through her high school years.  (Our parents still live there.)  I have a feeling these are her favorite lines from "Missing Missouri":

Late summer nights sneakin' out the window
Me and the girls driving down the backroads
Tobacco fields and bumblebees
And the Cardinals playing on TV

We grew up in Joplin, which is in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri.  Joplin doesn't have a lot in common with New Franklin.  We certainly didn't have tobacco fields -- we had mostly corn and soybeans, as I recall -- but there were plenty of backroads if you drove a couple of miles in any direction from our house.

Some of the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals
We did have the Cardinals playing on TV, although I mostly remember hearing Cardinals games on the radio -- legends Jack Buck and Harry Caray handled the play-by-play, and the team was very good when I was a teenager.  

In fact, the Cardinals went to the World Series in 1964, 1967, and 1968 -- not a bad run.

A ticket to game four of the 1967 World Series
Before I left Joplin for college, I rooted for the Cardinals and the Yankees.  I'm 100% faithful to the Yankees now, having given up the Cardinals long ago.  But my sister and my parents have remained faithful to  the Redbirds -- it's clear that their loyalty will never waver.

Back to Sara Evans, who got married in 1993, when she was 22.  She and her husband had three children -- the youngest was born in 2004.  She released "Missing Missouri" -- which starts with the line, "I love my life, love my husband" -- a year later.  

But in 2006, Evans filed for divorce.  Her husband's court papers accused her of having affairs with a dozen or so men, including country superstar Kenny Chesney, her Dancing With the Stars partner, members of her band, and -- this is where it gets weird, boys and girls -- four off the five members of the rock group 3 Doors Down.  (A spokesman for the band denied the allegation.  But he would, wouldn't he?)

(3 Doors Down could have done a lot worse)
Hell hath no fury like a country-western singer scorned.  Evans fired back at her hubby, alleging that her husband cheated on her, drank excessively, was verbally and emotionally abusive, watched porn in their house (he was caught at least once by the couple's oldest child), and had at least a hundred photos of himself nude and "in a state of arousal."  (I'm guessing someone's home computer wasn't password protected!)

The divorce became final in 2007.  Evans was ordered to pay her ex a half a million bucks in alimony.  She paid another $500,000 to an ex-nanny, who sued her for naming her as one of the women the ex-husband had slept with while he was married. 

The next year, Evans married Jay Barker, a former University of Alabama quarterback who led the Crimson Tide to a national championship after the 1992 season.

Here's a video of Sara Evans singing "God Bless America" at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game, which was played at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium:

Here's "Missing Missouri."  The person who created this video is clearly not a native of Missouri.  The lyrics that he or she added to the video mistakenly substitute "boot hill" for "Bootheel."

Bootheel (Missouri)

Boot Hill (Tombstone, AZ)
As any Missourian knows, the "Bootheel" is the odd-shaped little geographical irregularity in the southeastern part of the state.  The Missourians who live in the Bootheel is highly susceptible to Mississippi River floods and are sitting on top of the New Madrid fault, which is overdue to produce a major earthquake.  But they still have much to be thankful -- if mapmaking logic had prevailed over politics, the Bootheel would be in Arkansas today.  

Here's a link you can use to order the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how many guys bought the album, and, when asked "What did you think of the songs?" "Songs?? What songs? I bought it for the cover." There's a Joey Heatherton CD that shows up when I check to see if there are any new comments on the Evie Sands CD catalog that's even more, shall I say, eye-opening. Getting back to music, Joplin MO is probably best known as a stop for those who "Get their Kicks on Route 66". My wife and I went near Joplin on our way to an RV park in Carthage. Although we didn't stop there on our last trip, we called the park office after the tornado to see if they were OK; they were--the old Roman slogan, "Delenda est Cartago" did not apply to them. And the song title, "Missing Missouri" brought to mind "Miss the Mississippi (and You)" and by extension "Mr. and Mrs. Sippi made me feel at home."