God & country music

"Anybody who knows anything about me knows I love country music."
- William Moody

As a boy, growing up on the Gulf Coast, two things were really important to young Bill Moody and his family: God and country music. No matter how much or how little the Moody family had, it was these two things that gave them comfort and stability.

Growing up, it was the music of Jim Reeves, Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold and Conway Twitty playing on the hi-fi sound system. On the weekends, it was the magical sound of the Grand Ole Opry, where Stringbean and Minnie Pearl were firm favorites, tickling the family with their music and comedy stylings.

Being devout Catholics, the Moody family would spend a great deal of time in church. Church afforded them a sense of community and provided answers to things they did not fully comprehend about life. All the children went to Catholic school. Hymns were sung at home, and the Hank Williams I Saw the Light album was frequently spinning on the record player – these tunes were part of the fabric of their life.

The music of Hank Williams taught a young Bill Moody about many of life’s concepts, both the celebration of life and the acceptance of death. These were lessons that stayed with him. But it was an up-and-coming devotee of Hank Williams, who was just starting to find his voice, that left the biggest impression upon him: George Jones.

Moody listened to country music everywhere he went as he worked in professional wrestling, and if you were riding with him in the same car, you either liked country music or you wouldn’t hear the end of it. When he was with a fellow fan, like Curt Hennig, there was never an issue. When he was riding with somebody like Michael Hayes, who preferred rock & roll, it was a different story! But Moody usually won out. As Glen Jacobs recounted during Paul Bearer’s 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction, “…He also converted me into a somewhat reluctant connoisseur of country music…”

Although he wasn’t much of a fan of rock & roll, William respected Elvis Presley for his gospel music, which he considered to be some of his best. When Elvis died, it affected him immensely.

Any of you old of enough to remember can probably recall where you were when you heard the news on August 16, 1977, the day Elvis Presley died. I was one year fresh out of the Air Force and was serving my first apprenticeship as a funeral director. I was alone in the funeral home, listening to the radio when the news broke. The first thing I did was call my Mom, who was working in a local department store at the time. She was as much an Elvis fan as I am of George Jones.

About two weeks after his funeral I was in Memphis doing (Jerry) Jarrett's TV show, and I visited the mausoleum where they kept his body until they moved him to Graceland. There were still hundreds of floral tributes lining the roadways to his grave.

He would see live shows wherever he would travel, if he had the time, or he would simply listen to one of his countless CDs as he flew all over the globe. Moody was never without a cross pendant hanging on his neck – a constant reminder of who and what he was. Country music and God always brought him back home, no matter where he happened to travel.

I love to talk about my hometown wherever I travel. For years I was on the road close to 300 days a year. My friends and family sometimes think that the grass is greener away from the Gulf Coast. I am here to tell you that Mobile is the place to be, there is no place like home!

Due to his notoriety, opportunities cropped up that he never would have dreamed of as a boy.

Anybody that knows me knows what a fan I am of "The Possum" George Jones. This is something that Dianna and I shared the entire 30-plus years of our marriage, as she loved the Jones Boys as much as I do.

George Jones’ band were huge professional wrestling fans, William was a huge George Jones fan. It was a marriage made in heaven. He spent time with George Jones and his crew many times over the years. Few things in life made him so happy. He even had a tattoo of a possum on his arm!

My wife and I attended the Academy of Country Music Awards show, and The Grand Ole Opry. I have a vast collection of country music that fills my home office.

Why did he love country music? Because it spoke a truth that resonated within him. It spoke of life and of love, of hurt and redemption. When he was lost, it gave him guidance. When he was down, it gave him hope. It was a message that he understood and would never let go.

William would go to church daily after his wife died. This gave him the strength to go on. At a time when he thought he had lost everything and there wasn’t a reason to go on living, it was prayer and the hand of God that led him to the light.

This is what William liked to call Percy’s Prayer:

Lord, as I stumble through this life help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people, make them happy, and make them forget at least momentarily all the unpleasant things in their lives. And, in my final moment, may I hear You whisper: "When you made my people smile, you made me smile."


~Author Unknown.