Why I Chose to Cover Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”…. Yes, I Sing and Play Guitar.

When I moved to Nashville on September 11, 2005, it was because I wanted a chance at a career in music; writing songs, singing, and playing guitar.

The problem was, I had earned my college degree in English and was naturally thousands of dollars in debt. Therefore, I accidentally got a full-time job in HR; where I ended up working over a decade of my life.

Obviously, along the way, I found the love of my life, got married, had two kids, and moved to the suburbs.

But my love for doing music never stopped. It was just on hiatus.

Then when my office branch got shut down this past October, forcing me to become a stay-at-home dad, I had to find creative ways to exercise my mind while caring for my young daughter.

Fortunately, she didn’t mind playing on the floor while I played my guitar.

Just the week before I lost my job, I had taken a couple of days off work and met up with a new friend, out in Los Angeles. He also sings and plays guitar. As a souvenir from Nashville, I brought him a very Johnny Cash themed t-shirt.

That stuck in my mind.

So I figured, why not play a Johnny Cash song and put it on YouTube? And that happens to be the video featured at the top of this blog post.

I think part of the strange appeal of “Folsom Prison Blues” is that it’s told from the perspective of a convicted murderer who openly admits he committed the crime, despite his mother’s proactive warnings from the time he was even too young to understand he apparently was predestined for a life of crime.

The song challenges the listener to have compassion on the kind of person most people easily ignore.

As time allows, I definitely plan to record more songs on this new YouTube channel, Nick Shell Music; which is actually my 3rd YouTube channel. Eventually, I plan to release some new original songs of mine.

If nothing else, I am simply doing this for me. Just because I enjoy it.

Maybe you will too.

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Dear Jack: Monster Jam Triple Threat Series 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend you and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the Monster Jam truck show: Triple Threat Series. Mommy and I were planning on bringing your sister, but at the last minute we decided it might be best not to take her out in the cold weather.

While I would have been happy had our whole family attended Monster Jam, I have to say: I really enjoyed the monster truck show, just the two of us; father and son.

I feel you were definitely able to appreciate the competition and the action more, knowing that you had all my attention to yourself. So much of my time these days is occupied by caring for your baby sister; therefore, I truly appreciate getting to spend time with you alone.

And the Monster Jam event was the perfect way to do just that.

We saw the monster trucks do tricks during the freestyle event, which inevitably led to some of them flipping over. I filmed the process of how they get flipped back over, to share on my YouTube channel.

I was so caught up in the trucks flying through the air, meanwhile you were actually keeping up with the score. Just like last year, you were cheering for Zombie, with its arms sticking out.

I’ve been taking you faithfully each year to Monster Jam since you were 3 years old. It’s simply become a family tradition at this point.

And it’s so… American.

When you are an adult and look back on your childhood, I believe you will think of our trips to go see Monster Jam as some of the best times.

You’ve been playing with your toy Monster Jam trucks for 4 years now. It’s funny because even your sister is learning how to play with them.

Maybe next year she’ll be able to come along.

But as for this year, it was meant to just be you and me.

Love,

Daddy

Experienced SEO Freelance Writer for Hire: $1 Per Word (Or for $100, See Your Own Writing Featured on My Site as a Guest Blogger)

If you are considering hiring an experienced and proven freelance writer for your next press release, or would simply like to be featured as a guest blogger on my site, consider my skill set and history.

Begin by clicking on the links below, to get a feel for recent work I have been hired to do for high end brands like Lexus and Primrose Schools; as well as other household names like XFINITY and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Primrose Schools Executive Function Skills

Lexus Father and Son Road Trip

Toyota Family Road Trip to the Boonies

XFINITY Entertainment on the Go

Moe’s Meals on the Go

I would like to highlight my skill in writing and knack for engaging readers in original compositions, as is demonstrated on both my personal website, FamilyFriendlyDaddyBlog.com, and my previous corporate sponsored blog, The Dadabase on Parents.com. Through these websites combined, I have been able to create content which has allowed me to connect with thousands of readers across the world, garnering over two million hits within the past several years.  I am solely responsible for determining topics of interest, researching for validation, authoring, editing, managing and updating all material on the sites.

If you would like to hire me to write your next press release, based on what other companies have already hired me to do over the past year, this is my rate:

$1 per word; minimum 350 words.

Or, if you simply want to see your own work featured here on my blog, which obviously has healthy SEO, based on the fact I am approached weekly by companies and fellow writers who request to be featured on my platform, as I am currently featured as CreditDonkey’s Best Dad Blog 2017, you can simply hire me for that option as well. Based on what other companies have already hired me to do over the past year, this is my rate:  

$100 per post.

Here are some recent examples of other companies and bloggers who hired me for that option:

Trail4Runner.com

Chicago Metro Home Inspections

Museum Hack

Superior Honda

Brian Leach

Are you ready to get started? Send me an email at nickshell1983@hotmail.com. I look forward to working with you. I will close by sharing some of my resume with you:


Nicholas Shane Shell, B.A.

Freelance Writer on Family Friendly Daddy Blog Since September 2009

  • Create, design, and maintain all website content, consisting of over 2300 individual posts written since the website’s inception.
  • Prepares photo gallery using Fotor to incorporate several photo collages per post.
  • Applies SEO techniques to selectively tag content to increase visibility by Google and carefully crafts titles for posts to drive traffic to site and ultimately increase readership.
  • Website has garnished over 2.1 million hits and currently averages 16,000 hits per month.
  • Invited multiple times to special events sponsored by Lexus and General Motors to feature dozens of vehicles both locally and regionally.
  • On rotation to receive and review vehicles from a “Family Friendly” perspective from a variety of companies, including, Lexus, Toyota, Scion, Fiat, Buick, Chevrolet and Nissan.
  • Invited to serve as the official host for Annie’s Homegrown during a scheduled Google Hangout session.
  • Featured three times on Word Presses’ Freshly Pressed homepage within the span of a year.
  • Sought out and hired on a regular basis for my SEO skills
  • Awarded with Best Dad Blog 2017/Top Parenting Experts by CreditDonkey

www.Parents.com/dadabase created through www.Parents.com

Freelance Blogger, May 2011- June 2014

  • Recruited by chief editor, Michael Kress, of Parents magazine’s website to become the official daddy blogger for Parents.com based on the independent success of personal blog.
  • Developed creative concept, researched, wrote and edited content for each individual (400-word minimum) post while incorporating a minimum of two photos to accent the subject matter.
  • Personally promoted each post using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Has had nearly one million hits since inception; averages 13,000 hits per month; most hits in one day: 9,900.
  • Coined the title of the blog The Dadabase.

EDUCATION

Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia

Bachelor of Fine Arts

May 2005

Major: English

Honors:  Dean’s List

TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee

Certificate of Achievement, December 2012

       Course: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Learning System

Global English School, Bangkok, Thailand

ESL InstructorJune – July 2003 & June – July 2004

  • Instructed and prepared daily lesson plans covering a variety of subjects for approximately 25 elementary students.

Why My Next Car Will Have a Metallica Sticker on the Back Window, Not a Christian Fish Symbol

Whenever I eventually do trade in my 2004 Honda Element for a newer SUV with a 3rd row seat, I have already decided I will not be putting a “nice dad” sticker on my back window: No stick figure family, no logo from my kid’s school, not even a Christian fish symbol.

It’s Nashville. I’m a commuter from a bedroom community. I typically spend a minimum of about 2 hours a day, navigating through chaos from the congested back roads to the often stand-still Interstate.

Being perceived by other drivers as a “nice guy” is not what I’m interested in when I’m on I-65 or Columbia Pike. Otherwise, I’d be in danger of also being perceived as a hypocrite in other drivers’ eyes when I am either driving too fast or too slow for their liking.

Other drivers’ personal perception of my driving ultimately serves a reflection of the legitimacy of whatever sticker is on my car.

Yeah, I know that sounds obtuse and illogical. But it’s true…

If a non-Christian driver perceives that I selfishly pulled out in front of him, then sees a Christian emblem on my car, that driver is placed in a position where he can theorize: “There’s another one of those self-centered, hypocritical Christians! Why would I ever want to be like them?”

Instead, I’d rather be known as the guy who other drivers don’t have high expectations for. The easiest way I can think to accomplish this is to simply have one black sticker on my back windshield:

Metallica.

That way, when I have to hurry and pass another car real quick on the Interstate in order to reach the exit lane in time because of how congested all 4 lanes are, I’m not a jerk. Instead, I’m simply what they expect from a guy who listens to the legendary heavy metal band Metallica: I’m assertive, intimidating, and unpredictable.

However, when I do something courteous, like when another driver is trapped trying to make awkward turn and I let them in (which is something I do several times per day), and then I eventually catch up to them when that one single lane transitions to a double, and I’m now in the other lane and they can see the back of my vehicle…

Now, I’ve suddenly become the Good Samaritan. Why?

Because, hey, the Metallica guy was nice to me!

I’d rather be perceived as a nice Metallica fan rather than a “hypocrite” with a Christian fish symbol on my car. I

My ironic theory is that it’s easier for those fellow commuters to see the grace and kindness of a Christian when there is no Christian label, as I’ve learned that people naturally have higher expectations of Christians; meaning it’s also easier to be disappointed by Christians.

No one is disappointed by a guy who listens to Metallica. But as a commuter, I say the Metallica guy has got a better chance of being seen as a saint, compared to a guy with a Christian fish symbol on his car.

Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café Also Caters to Vegan, Gluten-Free, & Oil-Free Dietary Restrictions

As The Manliest Vegan on the Internet, I have toured America in search of cities that cater to people with plant-based lifestyles like mine, from Lake Tahoe, California; to Asheville, North Carolina; to Atlanta, Georgia; to Pensacola and Destin, Florida; to Louisville, Kentucky, just to name a few.

But despite living in a bedroom community outside of Music City, I have pretty much not mentioned Nashville, Tennessee… until now.

Over the weekend, I made my way to Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café, which is fairly close to the I-65 exit, and fairly close to the Nashville Zoo. I have been craving a homemade garden burger (a vegan burger made of veggies, nuts, and/or nuts) ever since our family road tripped to Louisville last month but our schedule did not allow for it.

At last, I got my manly garden burger. For my side, I chose collard greens, and I am so glad I did!

Not only does Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café cater to my vegan needs, but they are very open and upfront about how their menu is friendly to anyone seeking food made without oils, gluten, or meat. They also have a children’s menu, as well.

So if you’re looking for a good vegan or vegetarian restaurant that also caters to anyone looking to avoid oils and gluten, but don’t want to drive into downtown Nashville to do so, I say just head over to Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café. The parking there is free and easy, too. Just drive behind the restaurant.

You will immediately feel welcomed and accepted just as you are. No one at Nashville’s Sunflower Vegetarian Café thinks you’re weird or sees you as a label on the fringe of society. You don’t have to explain the reason for your dietary choices. It’s a really great environment.

And obviously, the food is superb. I am very much looking forward to going back!

Dear Holly: Your Attempt to Figure Out the Sprinkler in the Backyard (and Why Your Brother Had a Bucket on His Head)

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Here we are in the scorching heat of July in Nashville. There’s not much we can do, as a family, outdoors right now. But when Mommy took your brother with her to buy groceries on Saturday morning while you and I stayed home and played, she bought him a $5 sprinkler for our water hose.

The original plan was just for Jack to run through the sprinkler while Mommy supervised outside on the back porch. But after just a few minutes, you began grunting and nodding your head towards the back door.

Translation: “Daddy, aren’t you going to take me outside?”

You didn’t even notice the intense 91 degree weather. You were just fascinated by watching your brother jump through the water.

So Mommy helped you get a closer look, holding you up high to where you wouldn’t really get too wet. That’s when your brother, who assumed his role of entertainer, placed a bucket on top of his head and started dancing around.

I’m trying to imagine how you were processing what was going on, as the 15 month-old little girl you are…

It’s scorching hot. Let’s go outside!

And now big brother is dancing in the water with a bucket on his head.

I assume that this event ultimately gets translated in your brain as “completely normal event.”

That’s something I tend to think about- how everything you see our family do, even if you forget about it an hour later, is ultimately hard-wiring your thought process as to what are the norms of society.

However, I have found that you actually do remember more than I would expect you to. Just little things, like when we were reading a book together that had a picture of a cartoon lizard on it.

I said, “Holly… lizard!” Then I made a silly noise by sticking my tongue out again and again, which sounded like, “bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

A few days later when you pointed to the book for us to read again, you placed your finger on the lizard and immediately made the sound: “Bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

You looked up to me for immediate approval, as you smiled so big, which translated as, “Daddy, that’s the sound I’m supposed to make when I see the lizard, right? Aren’t you proud of me for remembering?”

What’s funny is, I had forgotten I had even made that sound the last time we had read the book. But now, every time we read it, you make that silly lizard noise that I accidentally taught you.

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: We Celebrated Our 9 Year Wedding Anniversary by Taking Our Kids on a Road Trip to Louisville, Kentucky

Yes, it was indeed nine years ago today that my wife and I were married at Brenthaven Cumberland Presbyterian Church. We purposely got married right next to a holiday (July 4th) so that we’d sort of always have a built-in day off for whatever we ended up doing for our anniversary.

For our 9th anniversary this year, we decided there was no better way to celebrate, than the load up our 6 and a half year-old son and our 1 year-old daughter and take a random road trip to one of my favorite cities in America:

Louisville, Kentucky.

Perhaps a more normal couple would have ventured there without the kids- and checked out some venues that are little more anniversary-ish and perhaps not so focused on catering to the attention spans of children.

Nah. Not us.

If we’re going to spend the money on a road trip, even just a 3 hour one across the state line, we might as well make it a family affair.

Being the world’s most famous vegan family friendly daddy blogger, Toyota helped us out by sending a 2017 4Runner; which proved to be ideal for our laid-back adventure to the Blue Grass State.

Because we’ve got our annual family zoo pass from Nashville, we were able to get in the Louisville Zoo for half off.

And because we’re cool adventurous people, we even took an unplanned stop at Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky on the way back home to Tennessee.

Thanks to some points we’d earned, my wife was able to cash in a free stay at the Marriott Courtyard Louisville East, just a few miles from the zoo.

I must say we were quite entertained by the “New Japan Pro-Wrestling” tournament that happen to be on, while we enjoyed our dessert treats from Whole Foods Louisville; which was also just a few miles away too.

Two queen size beds between the four of us…

You can imagine how it must have been getting our daughter to sleep too; in the pack-and-play bed next to ours.

It was around 10:30 PM by the time both our kids were asleep. To ensure we didn’t disturb them, we laid out a towel on the bathroom floor in front of the sink, and enjoyed our gourmet vegan cupcakes from Whole Foods.

This is 36.