On Wednesday, I was shopping at Keystone in Indianapolis, wondering when I might get kicked out for wearing bib overalls in the high rent district, when the music playing over the PA at Barnes and Noble did exactly what it was supposed to do.
It got me to spend more money.
My surprise purchase was "An Americana Christmas," from New West Records, one of my absolute favorites record labels. I bought it for what I had heard in the store, some great Christmas music in a minor key featuring the likes of The Band, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, the Old 97's and Emmylou Harris.
But I got a some surprises. I wasn't previously aware of Robert Ellis, but his rendition of the Willie Nelson classic "Pretty Paper" is top-notch.
I did know a little about Corb Lund's music, but his original contribution to the collection caught me completely off guard.
"Just Me and These Ponies (for Christmas this Year)" is the story of an old man living out in the country, grappling with the fact that no one is coming home for Christmas.
The first time I heard "I thank Christ for these horses or I'd be here at home, 80 years old spending Christmas alone," I got a lump in my throat and a whole lot of tears in my eyes.
It wasn't beneficial for a guy trying to fight heavy traffic leaving Indianapolis.
But for years I've had a soft spot in my heart for sad Christmas music. The aforementioned "Pretty Paper" as well as "Hard Candy Christmas" both spring to mind.
I guess as you get older you start to lose people you love -- whether to death, geography or other circumstances. I still love Christmas and it brings joy to my life each year, but I've come to realize there are also bittersweet tones to it.
And that's OK.
This song has particularly special meaning to me on this of all weeks. My wife lost her grandma the other day, and Grandpa will be spending his first Christmas without her in more than 60 years. He has a wonderful, loving family around, so he won't be spending Christmas alone, but my God will he be lonely. My heart aches for him.
Lund has written an excellent holiday song that's going to stick with me for a long time. Perhaps timing is a big part of it, but I think a lot of credit also goes to an excellent songwriter.