Appalachia Music

The Way I Am

2016 The Pressley Girls Festival on the Square

Just before Pap died, I videoed the girls doing a song made famous by Merle Haggard- The Way I Am written by Sonny Throckmorton. I never got to show Pap the video but I know he would have liked it.

The Deer Hunter and I listened to lots of Merle Haggard during our courting days. While I have many favorite Haggard songs, The Way I Am is right up there near the top.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel like a fish out of water? The song makes me think of those times where I find myself somewhere that I wished I wasn’t. I’m not good at pretending to like something that I don’t like.

When I was a teenager Pap would tell me “Be your ownself. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing or not doing.”

Teaching me to be my ownself is one of the best things Pap and Granny did for me. I’m thankful the girls have learned to be happy with their ownselves too.

Knowing the way you are makes it easier to live in this world and do the things you need to do even when you don’t want to do them.



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  • Reply
    Jill Ammons
    April 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I have goose bumpies 🙂

  • Reply
    Charles Howell
    April 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    My parents moved from The Smokey Mountains when they were forced to. My Dad a logger, my Mother a schoolteacher. The creation of the National Park was hard on those who called Oconoluftee home. So they moved to West Virginia, had five children including me. We moved to Roanoke Virginia when WWII started. Daddy worked in the Powder plant in Radford. He was disabled in a Skidder accident the year I was born and was not eligible for the draft. Displaced Appalachian people are lamented in the songs of Hazel Dickens who was from West Virginia. “Hard hitting songs for hard hit people.” Her “West Virginia My Home” tells the story of my family including myself ,of course. “In the dead of the night, in the still and quiet, I slip away like a bird in flight, back to those hills the place that I call Home.” Seems I never left completely. My Heart belongs to the Mountains. Appalachia will always be my home.
    Thanks, I love the Song & Merle Haggard. A displaced “Okie” like me.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    August 16, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Well that was just beautiful, so are Chitter and Chatter! Keep being the way you are girls!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Most of my life until somewhere in my 40s-50s, I’ve felt like a fish out of water. I still do in some situations. But since I’ve been born again in the 80s, I’ve learned that God can change me if I but let Him, and since I did, if He wanted me to be some other way, He’d have wrought that change in me Himself. But then the way I believe too is, since I’m still alive, He can still wrought changes in me if He chooses to. Praise and Thank God!!!
    Prayers everyone has a GREAT week, and a SAFE one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    We love the Pressley Girls! They just get better and better.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 14, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Good job girls! I’m a big fan of The Hag.
    Like Popeye said,”I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!”
    We have all heard or said,” Ah,that’s just way he or she is.” When my wife says that about me I know she means my stubbornness or lack of quitting sense when tackling a project or chore. And when I say that about her I’m talking about her genuine love of her fellow humans and her caring ways as a wife, mother and nurse. I quess we are just the way we are which makes us all unique!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 14, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I have never been happy with the way I am. I am lacking in self confidence and a sense of self worth. I am always looking for ways to improve myself. That is for my own benefit though, I feel no need to fit in someone else’s mold.
    Dat’s duh weigh eye yam!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    August 14, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    In this day and age, that is a great lesson to learn…especially for young Appalachian people. To quote another Haggard song, I try to teach my kids to “take a lot of pride” in who they are. Ok, one more (I guess I’m in a bit of a Haggard mood), in my own life of wandering and finally living Off, “Roots of my Raising” has gotten me through more than a few dark times. Great music as always. Your blog and music are a great source of pride. Thanks as always.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    No wonder your seedlings and plants do so well. You did know that plants respond to great music and harmony! Makes them very happy to grow!
    Maybe I should have sung more to my plants back in the day when we had a small greenhouse….errrr, or maybe not! Mine would’ve wilted! ha
    I love me some Merle Haggard too! I loved, loved the style of his voice expressions and sound!
    Thanks Tipper and great pictures all!

  • Reply
    Crystal Richmond
    August 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    The Way I Am is one of my favorite’s by Merle Haggard. My daughter sang this song at a talent competition one year.
    Ps.. Tipper, I read your posts daily. But a few months when my nephew passed and we almost lost my elderly Mother I missed several. I am confused about when did ” Pap” pass? I remember he had to be in hospital but I don’t recall reading about him passing. I am so sorry that I did not know.
    In the Grip of His Grace, Crys

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Chatter has that beautiful smile when singing and playing, and Chitter has a way of keeping time by swaying up and down, like Conway Twitty did most of the time.
    I love that song and the greenouse setting is a great idea. One of the things that attracts me to all of your family is what you see is what you get, and that’s the best way to be. Your parents taught you well…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I believe myownself that I was totally lead to believe to be myownself by the great Saturday (15 cent) movie “cartoon philosopher” Popeye! As kids we constantly repeated his quote!
    Great post Tipper,

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

    As usual the girls did a great job. I have always appreciated folks who are genuine and not wishy-washy & changing with every breeze to try to be popular or liked by the crowd. Always strive to be & do what is right and stick to your guns. This is a quality that is found in the majority of the older Appalachain Folks.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I think you “said a mouthful” (do you have that expression?) when you said, “Teaching me to be my ownself is one of the best things Pap and Granny did for me.” It was a powerful gift to you and you’ve passed it on, Tipper 🙂

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful song and well done by the girls. It sometimes seems that society wants a person that is void of personality and just exactly like everyone else–
    Stepford Wife. The most interesting folks are those who feel free to be exactly who they are.
    I particularly liked the part where you said, “Knowing the way you are makes it easier to live in this world and do the things you need to do even when you don’t want to do them.” Dad loved work, and this seems to have “rubbed off” on me. I am so thankful I have always loved work, so I usually can tackle chores I hate.
    On the downside, I get impatient with things that tear up or go haywire interfering with my efficiency. Once upon a time a sweet coworker watched my grumbling and gave me wonderful advice which made all the annoyances so much easier. She said, “You need to just go with the flow.” Often I have to zip my mouth and bring that to mind on those days when it seems what can go wrong will go wrong.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Tipper–Being the way we are and keeping on dreaming sure makes life more pleasant. I can’t quite see a bobber dancing but I sure can envision a dry fly floating on a mountain stream and a big old trout easing up from the bottom to take it.
    Being the way I am hasn’t always suited others, and over time I’ve been called contrary, mule-stubborn, different, quair, ornery, anti-social, and worse. Still, I reckon I’ll just coddiwomple through life like I always have. It suits me just fine, and in case you or others aren’t familiar with the word coddiwomple, look up the definition. It’s a wonderfully descriptive and could have been coined to describe the outlook of many mountain folks.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 14, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Going through life wanting to be difference is a sure way to be discontent. Yet we all, I think, dissappoint ourselves in some ways. We’d like to be more or do more. But there comes a time for just accepting there are things we are not gifted for or will just never have enough interest to pursue. I think Paul said it best. “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Of course that meant ‘for now’ because we are still being worked on.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Good song. Makes me think of one of my aunts and uncles. She worked a day job; he worked the skeleton shift; neither were particularly fond of the work they did but they enjoyed the folks they worked with, were active in church, bowled on weekends, she had her ladies she visited with. She got the kids off to school while he slept; he coached the kids basketball teams after school,and got in a little hunting, fishing, and trapping when he wasn’t coaching , bowling, or doing church business. They were a good example of “happy isn’t where you find it, it’s where you make it.” That’s just the way they were.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 14, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Good job on the song! I think you are 100% correct, being true to yourself is one of the best skills to have in this life. Second only to knowing yourself.

  • Reply
    Betty Newman
    August 14, 2016 at 7:18 am

    I think we would get along well together. I don’t “fit in” in a lot of places… and I don’t pretend well, either. But (most of the time) I have learned to embrace who I am, too.

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