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"Inside the Box"

FIELDS OF HOME ~ About the song

In the early sixties my momma and daddy bought 170 acres, 36 head of cattle, an old house and a couple of small barns for what would be described today as, "for a song."  This is the property where I was raised, down in Choctaw County, Mississippi.  My earliest memory is of an old ford 8n tractor with a push button start.  I was just a squirt at the time, but I can remember climbing up on it after daddy would park it outside the fence.  I remember Mr. Green would rent out the property to plant cotton and sow beans.  I remember daddy's bull, Bo. Even now, I think he was one of the prettiest bulls I've ever seen.

 

My first opportunity to ever make any money was when daddy planted a few extra watermelons in the garden for me to sell. I made no telling how many trips from the garden to the road with my radio flyer wagon loaded up with watermelons.  I also sold pecans from the big tree in the back yard.  After that, it was peas and okra with my best friend Howard.  I think we sold the peas for $6 a bushel and $15 for okra.

 

It didn't take long for daddy to start me bush hogging.  At first, he made sure that someone was around the house, just in case something happened.  After a while, I started bush hogging not only our place, but also some of our neighbors pastures.  I really enjoyed being on the tractor.  Still do!

 

I guess it was around 4, maybe 5 years ago I was at home helping daddy out with a few things around the place.  I was walking back towards the house and looking around at the property that had just been clipped and the sun was setting over behind our neighbors house.  The frogs were all cutting up down at the pond and I thought to myself, "I've worked this land as long as I can remember."  And that was the first line.  I think I finished writing the song on the way back to Nashville the next day. 

 

I've worked this land as long as I remember

Planting seed raising crops cutting hay and timber

Just a hundred acres but it's all I've ever known

And there's nothing like those fields of home

  

I went with a hundred acres because there wasn't enough room for a hundred and seventy acres with only one line!

 

I was on a tractor when I was just knee high (true…though I probably wasn't supposed to be)

Breaking the ground beneath that Choctaw County sky

And I'd talk to Jesus when the rows got long

And I'd thank Him for those fields of home

 

Days were long when I was on the tractor.  My mind just wondered (still does).  I remember doing an awful lot of praying and singing the old gospel songs I learned at church.  There's something about being on the tractor that just made everything else seem ok.  Even now when I feel a bit stressed or sad, the tractor is like therapy.  I remember several times that I would tell daddy something that was weighing on me or bothering me and if he didn't have a solution, he'd say "Son, that's a long row to hoe" or "that's a hard row to hoe."  That's where it came from.  "I'd talk to Jesus when the rows got long."  

 

I thought once or twice about leaving

Just to see those unknown places in my mind

But the more I thought of leaving, the more I fell in love

With everything I'd have to leave behind

  

Yeah I thought once or twice about leaving

Just to see those unknown places in my mind

But there's so much left to do, a farmer's work is never through

And I'm not the kind to leave it all behind

 

I think most teenagers get it in their heads that the grass might be a little greener on the other side and I guess that was me.  I left Mississippi and headed to Nashville in 1995 and I was only planning on staying for 6 months.  Obviously, I stayed a little longer, but in my heart, that place is still home.  I told my wife not to long ago that the dirt on that property is just as much a part of who I am as anything else.  I go back as often as I can and help out.  If you grew up on a farm, you know that there's always something left to do.  A farmer's work never ends.  My parents have always kept the place up really nice and as long as I'm alive, I'm going to do my best to help keep it up the way that they have.

 

I often wonder who's gonna take my place

After the Lord decides to come take me away

But I keep on working everyday at the break of dawn

'til they lay me down in those fields of home

Yeah I'll keep on working these fingers to the bone

'til they lay me down in those fields of home

 

This past January, we said goodbye to daddy for the last time.  I guess they needed a good guitar and fiddle player in Heaven.  I remember momma asked me just a few days after daddy's service, "what in the world am I gonna do with a hundred and seventy acres?"  I told her, "we'll keep the fields up, the trails down, the fence lines cleaned, and everything else…just like we've always done."  And that's what we're going to do.  

 

I remember after the service, someone asked me if I wrote "Fields Of Home" about daddy.  They said it described him so well.  I told them "I'd actually written it about myself."  I guess that adds a little more truth to something daddy used to tell my wife Michelle.  He'd say, "Michelle, just remember…the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."  Then they'd both smile because they knew it was true.

 

Comments Section

Mark, your website looks REALLY great! I especially like your story about Fields of Home. Of course you know how special your family is to me. We share a lot of good memories. Your dad would be so proud!! He always was so proud of you and Teresa. We all miss him so much!! But I KNOW he is having a great time with Jesus right now! Keep up the good work!
 

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