I have sung in choirs and ensembles for more than 40 years. I have also directed them. For me, the coming together of different voices or instruments, each with its individual sound, is a beautiful metaphor of the church, as each comes together to contribute its uniqueness to create one glorious, harmonious sound. I guess it’s fitting, then, that a true story of shaping such a sound would demonstrate God’s hand.
In my mind, country music has always glorified hard living, heavy drinking, and cheating on your woman; from this you might assume I’m not a country music fan. I’m not especially fond of biographies either–no reason, just my preference. So how did I end having good things to say about Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio?
When I picked up the book, I literally knew nothing about Diamond Rio except the name. Besides knowing they were a country group, I assumed some connection to the auto company, which had a plant a few blocks from where I lived for 20 years, but that was Diamond Reo.
“Beautiful Mess,” as you may already know, is one of Diamond Rio’s hits, a true love song without drinking or cheating, just as the book is kind of a love song for a remarkable group of 6 guys with a truly excellent sound. It tells the story of how those six men, guided by the hand of providence, not only came to be much loved artists, but also survived the typical pitfalls that usually tear such groups apart. Author Tom Roland traces their beginnings with Opyland, recounts the individual stores of each member, shares the impact of a musicians worst nightmare, and finally shows how that divine hand took Diamond Rio into a place where He wanted them.
Those who are already fans of Diamond Rio will enjoy getting better acquanted with them as separately and corporately. Those who are, like me, not familiar will find their story inspiring and, if they choose to check it out, their music worth hearing. Regardless, readers will see gifted and yet ordinary men, who deal with all the usual struggles of life, especially celebrity life, support each other, rise above the challenges, and hold their group together. Perhaps, most touching were the acknowledgments, usually placed at the beginning, which were the final pages of the book.
Beautiful Mess reminds me of Romans 9:21, where Paul describes us as a blob of clay to be shaped by God’s hands. Like each of us, none of these guys are perfect. Yet, despite and, to some extent, because of their unique imperfections, God blended them together to become a much loved and highly regarded country band.