I’m a good ol’ southern girl, but I spent years away from West Tennessee. I learned along my travels that Jackson is the best place to call home. Don’t believe me? Follow me on my journey this fall throughout the USA and Canada as I chronicle my tour, opening of my off-Broadway show, and why I’m missing Jackson.
There’s something to be said for being below the Mason-Dixon line while the college football season plays out. Yes, you can try and find the Manhattan affiliate grill & bar of your favorite team to watch the game in. Maybe you’re even lucky enough to have some people from your original hometown that live around you and you can have viewing parties with each other. These sorts of things I’ve somewhat figured out in my previous years of living in NYC. But since I live in Jackson now, I got to watch the first couple of games before I left on my fall journey in Jackson. Most importantly I got to watch them with the biggest Vols fan in my life: my daddy.
Tim Pritchard is orange through and through, and I love him for it. He instilled in me a great love of sports from the time I was very young. He’s a Braves fan, a Cowboys fan, a Tennessee Vols fan. There are pictures somewhere of my brother, Grant, in a Troy Aikman football costume. I’m in a Cowboys cheerleading outfit—same with the Volunteers. My brother doesn’t care much for the sports angle anymore outside of hockey, but football and baseball is what bonded my dad and me. So I feel an even greater responsibility to keep up with what goes on because it makes me feel closer to him. I realize that last sentence sort of made it seem like he’s dead, and he is very much the total opposite of dead (thank God). But I spent twelve years away from my family while traveling, touring, working, and hustling in the music industry. So it was very important for me to keep up with the Vols during football season each year because it’s always been my bond with him, even if we were literally thousands of miles away from each other. It’s safe to say I was 100% spoiled to be able to watch those couple of games with him before I set off to work on Songbird and head out on tour.
Last Saturday while we were rehearsing for Songbird, I made sure to make it very clear to everyone that there was a very serious event happening at 3:30 p.m.: the Vols/Gators game. (We’re not going to discuss how it ended.) I was proudly wearing my orange, and it was funny because no one had any idea what the rivalry was. The power of the SEC isn’t always understood if you haven’t truly experienced it. I’ve already recommended that my cast and crew trek down to Tennessee for the playoffs and bowl games cause I know they’ll have a brilliant time. But I think what I’m getting at and rambling on about is that there really is something very special about being able to join together with those around you about something you love, something that you all understand your passion for.
I really do miss going to my friend McKinley Hatcher’s house and watching the football game and eating Rotel and sitting on her comfy couch and playing with her funny dog Lola who begs for food like no other animal I’ve ever known. And crossing my fingers and toes and arms and legs and eyes, hoping for a win, mostly because I know nothing would make my daddy happier.
This is also the time when all the trees start changing. It’s my favorite time, all those colors. You see God’s hand at work so clearly in the fall. There is no mistaking His power and the beauty He possesses. And I am really missing that right now. But I’m having a great time here in New York. So much is getting accomplished! I was sick as a dog for about six days! But then I went to see my doctor, and she gave me all the drugs that got me right back on track to being a healthy girl!
We just finished our second week of Songbird rehearsals, and this cast and creative team are so incredible. They bring every part of themselves to this show, and I appreciate it more than words can describe. I’m rehearsing for tour simultaneously with Songbird rehearsals. My mind is working in overtime, but it feels really good because I’m using myself at my maximum potential. I’m tired, but I’m filled with endless creativity and gratitude and thankfulness. I leave out on the Wilderness/Politics tour in eleven days, and I feel so ready to sing and share this Comeback Queen EP each night to these upcoming audiences. His blessings are new each morning, and I am so thankful.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough about my heart pangs and sports feelings. I want to end this third installment with the lyrics from a song that’s in my musical Songbird. It begins playing on October 20th at 59E59 Street Theater in New York City. The clock's a-tickin' and I’m a-smilin’! Writing this particular song (titled Tennessee Blues) for the show wasn’t hard at all. I wrote a love song to the state of Tennessee and about missing her. She is my home, and she made me who I am. She gives me life and revives me. I am so proud of her. She’s such a beauty.
There ain’t an easy way to leave her
Sun shines, the river runs
Lord knows I can shoot a gun
But that’s the way I was raised
This land is your land
This land is mine
Home is where my heart is
And to you I am tied
Just the sound of the trees
Can’t escape my mind
Aren’t you missing me
Just when I think I’m fine
These Tennessee blues keep me running back to you
I tried to stay away but my heart's still aching
All those Tennessee nights keep playing over in mind
Keeps me running back to you
Can’t lose these Tennessee blues
Lauren Pritchard, also known as LOLO, is a Jackson native. She originated the role of Ilse in the eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and she is the composer and lyricist of the new country/folk musical, Songbird. You can find her new EP, the Comeback Queen EP, on iTunes (released by DCD2 Records), and you can catch her on the #WildernessPolitics tour this fall in the USA and Canada. For more information on her shenanigans, visit her website.
Header image provided Lauren Pritchard.
tags Jackson TN, Tennessee, Lauren Pritchard, LOLO, Missing Jackson, football, college football, hometown, homesick, New York City, University of Tennessee, UT Vols, Tim Pritchard, sports, athletics, Atlanta Braves, Dallas Cowboys, Grant Pritchard, Troy Aikman, baseball, SEC, McKinley Hatcher, Christianity, fall, autumn, 59E59 Street Theater, musical, theatre, Off-Broadway