Appalachia Music Pap

A Wonder – Hiwassee

Earlier in the week I told you about a new song Paul had written. Today I’m going to let you hear the song, and let Paul tell you the story of how he wrote it. The video is quite long, right at 30 minutes. The song plays in the first portion and then Paul talks about the song. After you watch the video, Paul has some additional information to share with you below it.


A Wonder – Hiwassee Lyrics

When I think about the Hiwasse, icy waters closing in on me,
It’s a wonder that I lived past the age of 3.
Though it may not be such a great big river, was a whole lot bigger than me.
When I think about the Hiwasse, it’s a wonder that I lived past 3.

Caracas, Venezuela; Beirut… Times when the Cold War got hot…
I think about Malaria and Jungle Rot.
We had to leave our brothers behind and come home across the sea.
When I think about all the countries, it’s a wonder I lived past 19.

When I think about all the fuel I hauled over the mountains so steep,
It’s a wonder that I lived past 33.
Enough to burn this county down, leave nary a bush nor tree.
When I think about all the fuel oil, it’s a wonder I lived past 33.

When I think about that time they split me apart, reached inside, working ‘round my heart,
It’s a wonder that I lived past 41.
They always said that my heart was strong. Now I know it’s not the only one.
It’s a wonder that I lived past 41.

When I think of how hard I pushed my heart, worked from heights so easy to fall,
It’s a wonder that I lived past 65.
So many buildings…they still stand, though their builder is gone to another land.
It’s a wonder that I lived past 65.

When I think about that time I had no help, so I had to help myself,
It’s a wonder that I lived past 75.
There I was, all alone, down on the floor with broken bone.
It’s a wonder that I lived past 75.

The Lord of Love was with me through all I said and did do.
Friend, let me ask, is He with you?
Never blame God for the wrong we all do nor the trouble it brings.
Don’t blame him for the fool nor the feeble song he sings.

If God isn’t real when you close your eyes, you have nothing to win,
But if He’s real, your eyes will open again. Again!
Look to Creation. Study His word, and the Truth you will see.
What a wonder! I’ll live eternally. The greatest wonder: I’ll live eternally!



With the anniversary of Pap’s passing happening, I thought I would go ahead and post a rough mix of this song on YouTube. After the song plays on the video, I detail the meaning behind most of the verses, but of course, there are many things that happened in Pap’s life not covered in the song. Like Pap hitchhiking across the country a couple of times, working in a mine, etc.

When he was a boy, my grandfather took out burial insurance on him because he figured he was likely to get killed by the rough and tumble way he lived, but by the time Pap was 15, he was gainfully employed and supported himself financially so that his parents didn’t have to.

In my lengthy commentary following the song, I never touched upon the verse about the age 75. Followers of the blog may remember that around age 75 or 76, Pap fell and broke his hip while cleaning the church fellowship hall. He lay alone there for hours with no way to get up or call for help. Until that fall, he had never had a heart attack, only severe angina pain from blockages. Despite having a heart attack, and despite the broken hip, he was able to get up, travel a couple hundred yards to his car, and drive himself a couple of miles to Miss Cindy’s (The Deer Hunter’s mother) house. So that’s the meaning behind that verse.

When I spoke about the metaphor of falling from heights, I never connected that back to Pap. He was a Little League coach, deacon, gospel singer, and Sunday school teacher for decades, and he was well-respected. Because he was human, like anyone else, he could have easily “fallen” or been disgraced in some way. Thankfully, that never happened, but when someone takes on a lot of responsibility, there’s always the potential for public scandal or disapproval. I would like to point out that my dream is a totally random sequence. Pap did not oppose law enforcement officials in his life, and the dream isn’t any kind of comment on gun control, just something that came to me while I was asleep. To me, it is symbolic of the fact that Pap is alright and that nothing can hold him down, he has the last laugh on death. I’m pretty sure that I was grinning during that dream.

The voice that I heard start singing in the dream was not my own, and it was not Pap’s. It was an older, scratchier voice. While evading the law is not in keeping with his life, pushing off from the billy club and grabbing the belt is exactly like something he would do. In any situation, he always knew the leverage point. Sometimes I fought and strained with something physically (like trying to remove the locking pin on a steering column) and he’d come along and handle it as easily as pulling lint from his pocket. It wasn’t just that he was stronger. He knew the leverage points, the tools, and the approach to use in all situations. Like the time when he was trucking and came upon another big rig hung under an overpass that was too low for the truck to clear. There was a police officer swearing a blue streak and pacing in frustration because traffic was backing up behind the big rig. Dad immediately suggested deflating the tires, which they did, and the truck then pulled freely under the bridge 🙂 . Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this post. Thanks for reading, listening, and watching.



I hope you enjoyed the story and the song. I’m still amazed that the song came to Paul in a dream, but then again maybe that’s what makes it so special. It was a true gift.


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  • Reply
    April 23, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Wow, just got through listening, , so ministering and so enjoyed the telling after..thank you for’s so so good to me to think on these things,, all of them… things we all can relate to……especially being thankful, and how our eyes can open again..and our outlook toward God…. this song can strike chord in many hearts , hearts that may be going through some things….for me tonight it reminded and encouraged me about looking back and truly realizing all the many times God was with me, being so thankful, where I know I too could have died…lost, but God, so rich is He in His Mercy….

  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    I am late reading, but just had to stop and thank Paul for his wonderful song and thoughts about his Dad. Somehow, it just brings to mind that old song, “This World is not my Home.” We want so badly to keep them right here with us, but God has a much bigger and greater plan. I loved my Dad so much, and like Pap he seemed to represent all that was good and strong. I try to never be a preacher, as the Lord seemed to have other purposes for me. But, this I do know, Pap is safe with the Lord who protected him and watched over him his entire life.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    ” A Wonder” is a beautiful ballad. It is so encouraging;and Paul puts his heart and soul in the story as he sings and plays it. Simply and honestly beautiful.

    Please tell Dee that the world isn’t mad at God; we just don’t understand God; we don’t know how to listen. With so many in this world thinking they know what God wants it’s a lot like being a child and having the parents and adults in our lives all giving us different and sometimes contradictory instructions. If we choose one to follow, all too often, the others berate and belittle us and accuse us of betraying them (and possibly God) in some way. That doesn’t mean that the world is mad at God; it just means that we are all struggling to be close to God.
    All we really need to do is “do all the good you can, by all the means that you can, in all the ways that you can, in all the places you can, at all the times that you can, for all the people you can, as long as ever you can” (attributed to John Wesley – at least, Wesleyan in character). And through it all, stay in love with God, which also means, since God made us in His image, to love those around us even when they “follow a different drummer.”
    From what I’ve read in this blog, it sounds like Pap and your family understand and live that as probably do most of your readers too.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    April 22, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Paul, you are becoming wise like your dad. Thank you so much for sharing the story of the song. It made it ever so much more meaningful. Songs are a gift, but they are a lot of hard work we get to enjoy. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    April 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you, Paul and Tipper, for this fascinating explanation of a beautiful and powerful song and for yet another glimpse or two into the amazing life of a man I admire tremendously. I am thankful for Pap’s life and for his children who share him with so many.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Just before 4:00 this evening, I called our Christian Radio Station and talked to Donna Lynn. When she asked which “Pressley Girl tune” I’d like to hear, I asked if I could hear: “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.” After that she played another Favorite “Angles Rock Me to Sleep.” I think Paul adds something Special to some of their songs when he joins in. …Ken

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    April 22, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Paul, your song paying tribute to your father is just beautiful!! You are correct, we all can hear those verses and see our mother, father, brother, sister, and grandparents. And I enjoyed your explanation after the song and the beautiful scene of the little creek with life flowing water. I also noted you took a stand for righteousness!! We all are going to have to take a stand for righteousness because the world hates God. God Bless You!

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    April 22, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    wow amazing video thank you paul for the great work have a great week

  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    I enjoyed the video and song by Paul. Your whole Family are the best Christians I know. I love the running creek in front of Paul, reminds me of the sound of my own creek near the head.

    I had to listen to the Video again on YouTube and such a wonderful Tribute to a Father. I bet Pap’s looking down and smiling at his Family. …Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 22, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    What a wonderful way to remember and honor Pap.

    Paul, I mean this in the truest sense – your story of Pap’s life and beyond is as fine a sermon as I’ve heard in I don’t know when. It is the story God’s eye upon the sparrow. It is a still, small voice speaking above the tumult from the banks of Stamey Jordan, telling the story of deliverance, salvation and perseverance of the saints; of God chastening those He loves. It’s the story of sanctification – of being set apart.

    And in the finest Baptist tradition, it even included a gently-submitted altar call.

    Your Daddy would be mighty proud.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    April 22, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Wow, Paul. This post was absolutely great. After listening to the song and your commentary, I went back and listened to the song again. It was even more beautiful and meaningful. I love your use of the minor chords. It must have taken a lot of time and energy to get this post ready, and that is deeply appreciated. You speak so well; I was captivated.
    I’m an old man now, but I played upright bass for many years in acoustic bands. A stroke in 2015 just about changed all that. I have worked hard to be able to play again, and I can finally play a simple bass line, if it’s not too fast. One of the things on my bucket list is to come to N.C. and play bass to some of your songs if I can catch you somewhere in a jam session. I’m not so sure that will ever happen. but I wanted you to know how much I love your music and how much I appreciate your character and philosophy as a man. Your dad would be proud.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 22, 2018 at 10:24 am

    A wonder, indeed! Thank you Paul for this beautiful story of a beautiful man. You’ve done him proud. He was such a fine and gentle man and this is a beautiful and fitting tribute to him. His heritage goes on through his children and grandchildren. When you sing and play, he is there, when the girls sing and play, he is there. I know this because I can hear him.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    April 22, 2018 at 7:38 am

    what a lovely tribute to a life well lived. He brought a lot of joy to many.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Wow, let me say I’m very impressed with the dream, the penmanship, the story, the song, I could go on and on. Dreams are very interesting, my Mother in Law dreamed about our Daughter before we were chosen to adopted her @ 6 weeks of age, but more strangely was her birth Mother, she described her in her dream and we got to meet her, and she was exactly the way she described her down to her hair color, auburn red hair, not black or blond but auburn red and when we chose a name for our Daughter , it’s meaning is Gift of God, and certainly she has been, but the dream, and our reaction when we met the young lady was just breath taking.

  • Reply
    Leon Estes
    April 22, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this song and story behind the song! Someone writing a song to bless the Lord is a blessing. Paul, you remind me of my Father-in-law- – – only you play and sing better! After age 58 he began writing songs and learned to play an Autoharp. I have shared with Tipper what he accomplished prior to his passing at 74. (I need to get a CD off in the mail to her.) Keep doing what you are doing; and if we don’t meet in this life, I look forward to seeing you “In The New Jerusalem” !

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