Stay Wild – The Bones of J.R. Jones

I am Rusty

When I was born my parents named me Russell Lane, I was their second child. They had five kids, three girls and two boys and every one of us had RL, as our initials. I guess as naming quirks go, theirs was as harmless as they come.  I can still remember watching my parents wrestle through the process of naming my little brother so that he would have the RL too. This is one of the jewels that I carry from my childhood. We get a few little oddities that mark us as part of a family. The RL is just one of the odd little eccentricities from those days. It is a precious part of Rusty staying wild…

My dad wanted me to be a cowboy, so instead of Russ or Russell, he called me Rusty. Through my younger days I lived as you would expect the son of a cowboy to live. I could ride a horse before I could ride a bike. I knew the difference between a bull and a cow before I knew what school was. For the rest of my life when I think of Rusty, it begins with being a cowboy. In many ways I had a fairy tale childhood, I lived away from most of the cares of the world, and I was in an environment that allowed me to let my imagination stay wild. I had my best friend, my little sister and we had our dad, the greatest cowboy of them all. He was our hero, and he could tell a story that would make our minds run wild and then ease us into sleep.

Rusty became my weird. 

I don’t mind the night

And the dark it brings

To my skies

As with all lives, there are high points and there are lows, but Rusty stayed wild through each twist and turn. But as you grow up the trappings of becoming an adult conspire to take the wild away from you. That can happen in many ways, it can be a deliberate action of your own that says I want to comply and sometimes it is a moment in time that changes everything.   A “moment in time” can be a day, a week or even a year. It is a moment of your life when there is a shift, it could be anything that triggers one, it could be an amazingly great thing or a disruptive thing, for me it was my mother’s death. She left suddenly on a Sunday, when I was eighteen.  It was an accident and it left Rusty completely adrift. There has never been another time in my life that I felt so completely lost. Not long after this, I, decided to start going by Russ.

I left Rusty behind, and I didn’t look for him for a very long time.

Cause the beauty of it all

Is in the terror

The danger of the fall

Rusty believed that music was the greatest magic on earth.

Russ became a parent when he was twenty-one, and then again when he was twenty-four. Russ became a single parent six months later.

Rusty always had crazy dreams and believed there always was a way, he listened to the trees, and he knew he was going to be a rock star….

Russ trudged through life and it is nothing short of a miracle that his kids became reasonably functioning adults.

Rusty stayed in the way way back, never really causing a fuss but occasionally he was very frustrated with Russ.

Rusty let Russ take his wild away.

I want to be

 a storm raging

I want to believe

In the American Dream

Many of us were taught that when we were born, we were broken, that our only hope was to acknowledge our brokenness, and seek a savior. For some of us it takes decades to find out that the only thing broken is the idea that we should not believe in our own wild.  Walking through life believing that you are broken can give you the excuse to fail. Walking through life believing you are the storm raging gives you permission to fly. You are not failing because of a fall from grace, you fail because you try. You do not have to be good, just be wild.

Cause the beauty of it all

Is in the terror

The danger of the fall

I am walking my sixty first turn around the sun and I am just now beginning to figure out how to grab on to the wild I set aside all those forty odd years ago. The things I have seen up to this day have shaped me and given my life beauty.  I am eternally grateful for the hard days and the falling on my face that set me on the path that I stand on now, immersing myself in the wild and relishing the beauty in the danger of the fall.  

Take every bit of me

Take what you need

And I will thrive

Working in a grocery store during a global pandemic has given me a special seat to the show of mankind and just how beautiful and ugly that show can be.  Every time I get the chance to give away a little bit of my wild joy, it overwhelms me in how wondrous that can feel.  You may have just stopped by to grab some milk on your way home and as you made your way through the checkout line, we got to trade smiles. In a world surrounded by death, we need each other, we need to stay wild. I am so unafraid of the night and the peril of being on the front lines. I am given joy by giving you some of mine… come on momma stay wild.

Come on Momma Stay Wild…. Momma Stay Wild

Rusty, full of wonder and the belief that a life was a matter of destiny. Russell, full of the belief that he had a purpose, and he could make a difference. But without Rusty, Russell found himself lonely and never entirely successful.

I want to lay you down

And hold it in your soul

I want to hold you down

And feel it in your soul


Momma Stay Wild

This idea of writing about Rusty has been a part of the process for me to bring him back into who I am and what I do. I have found many reasons to bring Rusty up into the driver’s seat, to remind Russ of who Rusty was and why I want to spend some time with him.  This song, “Stay Wild”, gave me the real reason, in a very beautiful, entirely magical song by “The Bones of J.R. Jones”.  Taking the best of what you learned as a wide-eyed child and combining that with the wizened old eyes of a man who has seen some shit, you find wild.  I am struck completely numb by the beauty of my life. It is mine, the whole of it and the pieces I give you are but a taste of that beauty. I am the one the universe waited for, and I am the one that will never be seen. Every one of us has the potential to glimpse the beauty of their life, you must grab hold of the wonder and joy that breaths for you and dig deep to make a safe place for your own Rusty, don’t keep him in the back seat. The universe is waiting for you to stay wild.

Stay Wild” is one of the most beautiful lyrics I have heard, ever… This is about embracing the wild of you and then flying… It is some crazy wild magic that led me to this song.  I set out to write about Rusty a while ago, but it wasn’t until I was deep in the writing of this that I found “Stay Wild”. I have never tried to write a post referencing a song that didn’t get started by that song. This time, Rusty was the topic and then came “The Bones of J.R. Jones”, and so life is perfectly organized. You seem to find a formula and then the universe says sorry, we have many pathways… go explore. So, I did…I have spent a while walking my way through his catalog and letting this magician’s music seep into my soul and tell me what I needed to hear at the time. That is after all, the magic in music.

I love the story of Jonathon Robert Linaberry, The JR in “The Bones of J.R. Jones”. I love how he ran into the wild of his craft and sought out the joy of its magic. I love what he does with an old acoustic six string guitar. His music is the kind of music I could play my bass to for the rest of my life. There is a depth to what he writes and sings that is born of hanging on to the wild of our youth and hugging his Rusty close all the days that life gives.  “A Celebration” gives a great idea of who this guy is and what he feels. This is one of those albums that I need some days with, JR’s voice is such a beautiful thing to take in, the fact that he writes the words that can seep into your soul is just joy. To say I fell in a rabbit hole is kind of short sided, this is just Russ, letting Rusty show him some stuff.

Lately when I look in the mirror, I see Rusty, that makes me smile. I also see my dad, the greatest cowboy that ever lived… that is wild….

Listening, Learning and growing

3 thoughts on “Stay Wild – The Bones of J.R. Jones

  1. Wow, thank you so much for this text! I’ve stumbled upon it via looking up the lyrics for Stay Wild.
    I hope you wont mind me using your text for inspiration for writing a song! “I’m the one the universe waited for, I’m the one that will never be seen”, pure gold!
    Well I guess it comes full circle..
    Cheers and thanks again!


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