|Joseph S. Bonsall|
Joe Bonsall could be described as a composer. From being one of the musically inclined singer-songwriters of the Oak Ridge Boys to Joseph S. Bonsall, author of feature stories that intrigue the reader. While at a tour stop in Renfro Valley, KY, Bonsall recently spoke about his book, G.I. Joe & Lillie: Remembering a Life of Love and Loyalty.
Describe your relationship to Cracker Barrel?
The relationship between the Oak Ridge Boys and Cracker Barrel has been phenomenal for us. They have done a lot for us and we've done some things for them. "It's Only Natural" is a huge selling album for us and a big thing for us. For them to put G.I. Joe and Lillie as part of their American Heritage Celebration, I was shocked and did not see it coming. I love to say that we had this big plan to put G.I. Joe and Lillie in Cracker Barrel, but we didn't. I had no idea this was going to happen. The fact that they did and they love the book, to me is a tremendous honor. This book was written in 2003. And yet, it keeps gaining legs. Something keeps happening to help G.I. Joe and Lillie move forward.
What has been the reaction from readers?
A month ago we sang at an event for Vietnam Veterans. It was a big deal for me. Before the thing, there was a meet and greet. We met a bunch of Congressional Medal of Honor winners. A four star general of the US Army comes up to me and says, "Are you going to sing to us about Lillie tonight?" Man if my mom knew that a four star General of the Army said that!
What do you think is the biggest struggle for Veterans of war now as compared to when your parents were in World War II?
It's just as hard. I think combat war is one of the worst things that the human body could ever put themselves through. The human mind puts themselves through it mentally and physically.
What is the American Dream?
I always hoped that the American dream, in my heart, was always that if you lived right, played by the rules, told the truth, honored God that you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be. I believe that it is the heart of all things. You've got to work hard. People expect stuff given to them. We do have a government that is free to give away anything. I know that nobody gave my mom and dad anything. The government was not there to give them a handout. The VA helped my dad, but I know that my mom would work three jobs to make ends meet. I know that there are people that would do the same and are struggling, but willing to work hard. I hope that the American dream is still in tact. I feel that it is. We look at Middle America every single night from the state fairs, the county fairs, and big beautiful theatres. I get a good feeling for people. I think people are still trying to be as optimistic as they can and I think better days are still coming. I really do. I think people need to focus on God and hard work.
For me, I’m happy the most by picking banjo on my farm after I've cleaned the whole place up.
When the last note is played and last song is sung, how do you want to be remembered by?
I hope people will think that he is a pretty good guy that is living his dream and lived his dream. I didn't make a living until I was 32 years old doing this. I didn't give up in my 20s doing this. Whenever everyone was saying for me to get a real job, I never gave up on singing. I was willing. I hope people will learn a lesson from me on that. I hope people think they enjoyed what I did. Maybe give them a good laugh, a blessing on occasion, a good book, a good word - that would be alright.
Be sure to visit the following websites for more information:
Joseph S. Bonsall www.josephsbonsall.com
Oak Ridge Boys www.oakridgeboys.com
Cracker Barrel www.crackerbarrel.com