Heart Over Mind - Kyle Young Remembers Mel Tillis

Heart Over Mind - Kyle Young Remembers Mel Tillis

Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame shared this touching and insightful tribute on January 31, 2018. 


"Stuttering is when rhythm is interrupted by repetition. It’s a kind of habit, and it’s tough to break.


Stuttering is when a pause exists between what we want to say or do, and what we are actually saying or doing.


So the real deal is that we all stutter. Mel stuttered in the saying, while most of us stutter in the doing. 


Most of our stutters are permanent: We never fill the gap between what we ought to do and what we really do… the gap between who we are and who we ought to be.


Fortunately for everyone in this hallowed hall and for millions outside of these walls, Mel Tillis didn’t have that kind of stutter. It just took Mel a while to get his words out. 


In his deeds, where many of us lumber, Mel was swift and clear and strong. He was the man he meant to be.


Mel grew up in Florida, frustrated by his speech impediment, afraid of his hard-drinking father, and transfixed by the sounds that emerged from his family’s battery-powered radio each Saturday night, when the Grand Ole Opry came on. 


He’d listen to Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, and Eddy Arnold, and he’d run outside to a hand pump during commercials, fill a tin cup full of water, and dab that water on his eyes to keep from falling asleep before the show ended.


Soon, Mel came to know what he wanted to say and do. He wasn’t great at saying it, and so he concentrated on the doing. He came to Nashville in the summer of 1956 and soon worked his way into the world of Acuff and Monroe and Arnold. 


Communication had always been tough for him in conversation, and so he learned to communicate in melody and rhyme. Life had been tough for him, but, rather than retire his ambitions, he aspired to grand things. He wrote with plain-spoken eloquence about his experiences: “Oh, Lord, I’m tired… tired of living this-a-way.”


When Mel was tired of living one way, he found another way. He created another way. He was so smart and so true that his creations resonated with all of us.


A child of labor, he became a man of business.

A stuttering boy, he became a man of clarity and communication.


Mel Tillis bridged the gap between what he ought to do and what he really did.


Mel Tillis showed us how to connect who we are with who we ought to be.


He was smart as a whip, and funny as hell. He was epic and beloved and important, and he wrote and recorded some of American music’s greatest songs.


He stuttered in the saying, but not in the doing. 


He died as a great and accomplished man. He lives as an example of what we might be if we somehow ditch our repetition and find our rhythm.


As a wise man put it, Heart Over Mind. " 



February 20th, 2018 BACK