Tyler Childers got a key to the city of Lexington, Kentucky, last weekend.
The singer-songwriter born and raised in Lawrence County, Kentucky, posted on Instagram overnight to thank Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton for the gift.
He said he never imagined he would be in this position eight years ago, when he said he was sitting in a jail cell inside the Fayette County Detention Center.
U.S. 23 is known as the "Country Music Highway" as it enters Kentucky from Virginia and leaves Kentucky at South Shore.
Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless, Crystal Gayle, Chris Stapleton, Hylo Brown and more are all noted musical geniuses born along U.S. 23's path through Kentucky.
And now it's Tyler Childers, who, in time, may make the biggest musical impact of any of the Highway 23 musical great to date.
His latest album, "Country Squire," is No. 1 on the country music album list. He performed "House Fire" from the album last week on the Jimmy Fallon "Tonight" show.
A few words from the song:
You see these boots I'm wearing
They're tough enough to go
And they will take many a road to reach you
Honey, won't you light the way?
You can set my house on fire, baby
You can turn it into cinder and smoke
'Cause this house is mighty cold and I feel like
Melting all the snow away.
Sound familiar? Probably not. Know what means? Again, probably not. It sounds Dylanesque to me.
Could it be that he is on his way to becoming another Bob Dylan? I think it's possible. There's many a pitfall between now and the Nobel Prize for poetry. But it could happen for this poet-songwriter.
I first heard Childers when he sang "Coal":
Now let me tell you somethin' 'bout the gospel
And make sure that you mark it down
When God spoke out "Let there be light"
He put the first of us in the ground
And we'll keep on diggin' 'til the comin' of the Lord
And Gabriel's trumpet sounds
'Cause if you ain't minin' for the company boy
There ain't much in this town.
Coal: He hates the environmental ruination it brings. But he feels akin with the miners.
Coal, the devil, miners, preachers, friends and neighbors all may be part of what makes singers and musicians so numerous and so real along 23.
But alas, Childers concludes in "Coal":
We could've made somethin' of ourselves out there if we'd listened to the folks that knew
That coal is gonna bury you.
Childers is not a fan of modern country music: "The problem with country is we've turned the props into the play. Let's not just Solo cup and pickup truck it to death. Let's handle this in a smart way. Nobody is thinking about lyrical content, or how we're moving people, or what's going on in the background of their minds."
It's clear he is taking country music back in time when that brand of music was real, as real as the towns and rural hamlets along U.S. 23.
Best of luck, Tyler. But be very careful as you move toward ultimate legendary status.
The traps are legion.
Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is email@example.com.