Thursday, December 26, 2013

30 years ago today!!

I want to share my most memorable Christmas ever.

It was December 25th, 1983 and it was about 17 degrees outside and snow was on the ground. It was about 3:00 pm. My wife and I were at my in-laws opening up presents when my wife felt this strange feeling. She took the present she was opening and laid it on the floor and ran to the bathroom only to find that her water had broke. She was huge and we were expecting the baby any day now.
We immediately gathered everything we needed and rushed to the hospital.We arrived and was escorted to the maternity wing of St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis. We finally saw the doctor and he said we would probably have to induce labor since she wasn't having labor pains yet. So, they proceded to do just that. I'm told that induced labor is the hardest to endure, but my wife was a real trooper.
Slowly through the evening the pains started and got stronger and stronger. In between pains we listened to the Christmas music that the hospital had playing overhead and we also watched TV. Midnight came and went and so did the Christmas music.
In the wee hours of the morning, the doctor came in and checked saying we should go to the delivery room now. I dressed in scrubs for the first time in my life and met them there. As I held her hand and coached her as we had been taught in class, she finally pushed out a beautiful baby girl.
The nurse immediately cleaned her and wrapped her in a cotton blanket and handed her to me. I sat in the chair just beside the hospital bed and held her in my hands. Our eyes locked. She looked at me as if we were long, lost souls that hadn't been together in decades. Maybe that is the case. I could not take my eyes off of her and she was the same. We stared at each other for what seemed like eternity while the doctor finished with her Mother. I will never forget staring into those beautiful blue eyes, counting her fingers and toes and holding this precious angel I had just been given.
We named her Cagney Michelle and she turns 30 years old today, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
The day I was given an angel for Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas harmony...

This is a picture of me sitting with my Mom and Dad. I was about a year old I think. I don't remember that early, but I will share a wonderful memory from when I was 4 years old. It would prove to be a monumental moment in my young life.

It was Christmas time and I remember we had just put up the tree. I remember the lights were down low so the lights on the tree lit the room with that familiar Christmas tree glow. Then Mom and Dad started singing Christmas carols. The one song I remember them singing was Winter Wonderland. It was the first time I heard people singing harmony. Now I cannot remember who was singing the lead or who was singing harmony, but I remember thinking, "I want to learn how to sing harmony."

To this day, one of my favorite things to do is sing harmony. Singing in church with my family and singing in church choir helped me hone my harmony singing skills. I also was able to hear the parts at a very young age. I sang in a barbershop quartet in High School and vocal quartet in my 20's and 30's.

I have studied the great harmony singers and tried to emulate their style. One of my favorite singers is Vince Gill, but some people don't know that he is the most amazing harmony singer. Through the 90's and beyond, he has lent his harmony to thousands of recordings. I learned a lot from listening to him.

But I owe my love of harmony to my Mom and Dad and that wonderful Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!!! May your holiday be filled with harmony.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Shameless self promotion...

I've been taking a break from songwriting for a month or so, but I keep waking up with songs in my head. So even though in the waking hours I am not focusing on songwriting, in my sleep I am still writing music. In the meantime, I have been climbing up the reverbnation charts. I guess people have been listening to my music. That makes me happy. Guess it's time to get back to work and finish some songs. Peace, Phil

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do it anyway...

The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

I posted this in October 2009, but I thought it was worth reposting. Focus on the good in your life. And if you don't feel like it anyway. :)



Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Grandpa didn't know what FSHD was...didn't let it stop him

Let me introduce you to my Grandpa Vance. He was my Mother's "Daddy". I've heard stories my entire life about all the things he did. He was an entrepreneur, carpenter, salesman, role model, volunteer, business owner, mentor, farmer, fisherman and much more. He never let anything stop him...not even FSHD.
My Mom told me about how he built the house she grew up in as well as at least 3 others. He also built a dam in the creek behind their house by hauling huge rocks one at a time and setting them into place. He built a giant outdoor fireplace out of granite blocks. He did all of this without the help of a forklift or a bobcat. He did it all with his bare hands and also while having FSHD; a form of muscular dystrophy.
When I look at the picture from the newspaper, I can't imagine how he was able to pick up and load 50-60 pound pumpkins to take to  the market. He must have had incredible inner strength to deal with the limitations of FSHD. I have a feeling that he didn't let anything limit him.

I have often thought of him as I too have FSHD and have learned to overcome the difficulties of this disease. I have said to myself many times, "If my Grandpa can build a house, I can certainly climb these stairs."
 I wish I could have spent more time with him, but unfortunately he died in a car accident when I was 9 years old. He probably didn't know he was an inspiration to many and I am sure he didn't know he would still be inspiring me 40 years later. I am in awe of what he accomplished in his 65 years, with or without FSHD.

So when people said, "You have what your Grandpa had", I hope they are right!

This is one of the many houses he built.

This is the dam he built...amazing!

He also knew how to have fun.

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to share this post. To learn more about this disease and the fight to find a cure, click on this link or go to

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What is FSHD? My story of hope.

     I first started noticing muscle weakness in my shoulders when I was 16 or 17 years old. Prior to that I thought I was just a normal teen. However, I never understood why I couldn’t run as fast as the other guys or why I couldn’t do sit-ups or pull-ups. I just assumed I was a weakling and needed to exercise more. I got made fun of because I ran so slow as early as I can remember. The thing about FSH is it progresses so slowly, you don’t realize you have lost another muscle until you go to do something and realize you can’t do it anymore. Atrophy is a word I'm very familiar with.

     Example: When I was in my early twenties, I loved to hunt, especially bow hunt. I loved archery and was actually a pretty good shot. One early morning I am in the woods and finally called up a couple turkeys. Now wild turkeys are the most challenging to hunt and I always wanted to kill one with my bow and arrow. Well I finally had my chance. I called up two turkeys and when I thought they were close enough, I pull up my compound bow and I couldn’t pull it back. I did not realize until that moment that my shoulder muscles that are required to pull back the bowstring were now gone. That ended my archery career.

     The same thing happened when I joined a work softball team in my mid-twenties. I loved to play softball and was pretty good at it when I was younger. Well, I go to our first practice, get up to bat and hit the ball to right field. I was excited because I wanted to do well, but when I take off to first I realize that something is wrong. I am really having a hard time running. Well, long story short, I got thrown out at first base by the right fielder. Now guys on a softball team can be brutal and I found that out immediately. I pretended to have hurt myself because at that point in my life, I was embarrassed and had no clue what was going on with my leg muscles. That ended my softball career.

     So with two things I loved to do out of the picture, I decided it was time to see a Doctor. I started with my family doctor. He referred me to an orthopedic specialist who referred me to a Neuromuscular Clinic. I finally get an appointment only to be poked, prodded, stabbed, twisted and turned inside out without a diagnosis. They needed to run more tests, but they thought I had some form of muscular dystrophy that they had not seen before. I was not in the mood for more tests!

     I’ll back up a bit and give you some family history. My Grandpa on my Mother’s side had similar issues, but never went to the doctor. My Uncle on my Mother’s side has similar muscle weakness as well. “You must have what Grandpa had.” is all I ever heard from Family when I started having problems. Well I did not accept that as a diagnosis and was bound and determined to find out what was wrong and hopefully get it fixed.

     It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I finally found a doctor in St. Louis that told me what I had. He said most likely I had Fascioscapulohumeral Dystrophy…FSHD for short. That’s when I learned that they did not know what caused it and there was no treatment at all. So I just learned to live with it like Grandpa did and my Uncle Richard does. I was fine! Who needs to run anyway? Who needs to shoot a bow and arrow anyway? At least I was healthy and could still play golf…right? At least I can still play guitar and play the drums…right?

     In my thirties I started noticing weakness in my abdomen, forearms, legs and feet. I could not raise my arms over my head anymore. Climbing stairs became harder and harder. I started tripping and falling a lot. The problem was, once I tripped and fell down, I could not get up off the floor without the help of a chair or solid surface. Also the muscles in my abdomen weakened to the point where it looked like I was pregnant. Meanwhile I stayed positive and hoped that someday researchers could find out what the hell caused this disease and give me some sort of hope for a treatment.

     In my 40‘s, I noticed the progression slowed considerable. Even though I can barely climb stairs, cannot play my beloved game of golf, run or play ball, I am very blessed. I still play guitar even though muscles in my hands and forearms cause problems. I pretty much gave up playing the drums mainly because it’s too hard to carry all the equipment. I am blessed!! Even though my disease has brought me to the point where I cannot continue working as a Medical Equipment Technician in a hospital environment, I never give up.

     Two months ago I made the difficult decision to apply for disability and was approved. Luckily my company offered short-term disability. After using up all my personal days and about to run out of company-sponsored short-term disability benefits, I get a phone call from Human Resources. They asked me if I would like to interview for a job as a Diagnostic Cardiology Technical Support Engineer. Now this is the job I had been trying to get for 3 years. Four interviews and two months later, I land the job. My start date was the exact date that my short-term disability benefits were set to run out. I work from a home office, no commute, nice raise, no tripping and falling in the halls of the hospital, no people staring at me wondering what is wrong. My dream job. I am glad I never lost hope.

     You see I have fallen down so many times in my life, but I always got back up. If you give up mentally, your body gives up as well. I will never let my muscles tell me I can’t play the guitar. That is one love I will never release. These days I find myself in awe of what can happen if you keep the faith and never lose hope.

Thank you for reading my story. Like Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Don't let your music die with you.” Never lose hope.

Phil Bennett

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I have learned in my 49 years, 11 months and 29 days...

Well as I approach my 50th birthday, I have been pondering all the lessons I have learned so far in this life. So in no particular it goes. Remember these are lessons I have opinions only.

1. Never forget that life is good! If you ever want to know what it's like when life is bad, take a day trip to Saint Jude's Hospital. Take a minute out of every day to give thanks.

2. Help those in need and always give a buck to that guy on the corner holding a cardboard sign. (Unless he is wearing nicer shoes than you.)

3. Tell your Mother that you love her. My Mom is basically perfect! She taught me to smile, laugh and always keep a positive attitude. Listen to your Mother...that's a great life lesson!

4. Sometimes good guys have to hurt people. I'll leave that up to your interpretation. There are a million country songs in that life lesson.

5. Pain may be inevitable in this life, but suffering is not.

    6. Babies are the closest thing to heaven. I just learned this one after the birth of my first Grandbaby. I remember thinking, "The last thing this baby saw prior to being born was GOD."
7. Laughter is the only medicine.
8. You never regret things you do, you always regret the things you don't do. Don't be afraid to take chances.
9. Success is not measured in dollars and cents.
10. Don't die with your music still in you. I borrowed this from Wayne Dyer.

 Finally, #11 life lesson...Guys, love your woman!! They put up with so much, the least we can do is love them and treat them great.

Here's to another 49 years. I might even be smart by then...who knows.

Peace and love,


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Juke Joint Festival. Worth a trip to Clarksdale, Mississippi

Some say it's the home of the Blues. Some say it's not. Some say it's where the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. All I know is these people know how to throw a Blues festival.

Kristi and I just happened across the annual Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi. You could hear the music and smell the food from a mile away.

Go see for yourself! It's just a short drive south of Memphis and well worth your time. The Juke Joint Festival is one of many festivals they have throughout the year. Click the link to read about what's coming up in Clarksdale.

Blessing to all today,


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vince Gill & Friends at the Ryman

Last night I treated my Daughter to a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. I called it her "Thank you for giving me a Grandbaby" present.

Now just getting to see Vince Gill would have been enough, but the list of special guests was amazing. His hall of fame band included Paul Franklin, legendary steel guitar player. Dawn Sears sang like an angel as usual. Then he brought out Rodney Crowel and Emmylou Harris!!

After an intermission, Vince sang some classics and then surprised us all by bringing out Patty Loveless! I cannot describe how much these two people have influenced me over the years. I'll admit that a few tears rolled down my cheek when Patty sang "If my heart had windows".

Thank you to my Daughter for joining me and thanks to Vince Gill for putting on such a fantastic show.

Peace and love to all,


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"When tomorrow is gone"

Happy April everyone!

I wanted to share a song I wrote a  few years ago. Something about it always bothered me, so recently I reworked it a bit. I changed the tempo and rhythm and recorded it again. I read once that great songs aren't written, they're rewritten. I hope that's the case here.

Also, I recorded it using only my ipad and a Garage Band app that cost me $9.99. It's a pretty good demo when you consider it didn't cost me a thing. I am all about saving money versus spending $200 to get a demo recorded.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Have a blessed week!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Piece of cake

I know by the title you thought I was going to make some metaphor about how songwriting is as easy as a piece cake.

No actually I wanted to show you this piece of cake that we ordered from the Marrietta Diner the other night. It was like heaven!

Have a blessed Saturday.


Friday, March 22, 2013


I have a ton to be thankful for. I've been recording some new demos this week. I'll share them when I am finished.

Spring is on the way folks, hang in there.

Life is grand!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Your purpose or your passion...

"If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose."
Bishop T. D. Jakes

I posted this picture of me when I was nearly two years old. I look at it often because it reminds me of my passion. I love guitars. I love to hold them, play the and listen to them. I obviously wanted that Bugs Bunny guitar very much. Look at how I am holding I have been holding a guitar for years. I have a feeling that I came into this world loving guitars and music. I am so glad Mom bought it for me.

I read once that you need to never forget what you wanted to be when you were young. This picture reminds me.

Have a blessed day and enjoy your passion.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy 2-month Birthday Gavin!!

I hope everyone is having a great week. I have been loving being a Grandpa. I mean it's not much work yet. I just have to hold Gavin and brag on him and show his picture to everyone that will look. I Think I am going to like this Grandpa stuff. :) Also, I am sure I'll be writing Grandpa songs for a while.

Every since I found out Cagney was pregnant, I've been wondering what it would be like to have a Grandpa. Both of my Grandpas died when I was 9...both in the same year. I don't really remember that much about either one of them. So I missed out on a lot I am sure. I do remember my Grandpa Vance taking us fishing and I remember my Grandpa Bennett cussing a lot. That's about it.

Well, the good news is Gavin will not miss out on a thing. I am going to be the perfect Grandpa. Anything that boy wants...

Have a blessed day,


My favorite Songwriter Joel Shewmake

Quote of the year...

“Be not the judges of men, but love your brothers and sisters, and find ways to reach out to them in common goals and aspirations. Where there is love in common, the divisions of creed will melt away and reveal the true nature of man’s eternal destiny -- one of unity in purpose, to be perfect as the Father is perfect."

Author Brilliant but Unknown

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