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Bobby O'Neal / Blog

Inspiration for the song "Choctaw Moon"

Since the early 1980's, one of my hobbies has been genealogy. Through this hobby I learned that my mother's family were pioneers in Mississippi when it was considered wilderness, back in the early 1800's. And I learned that I had at least one ancestor who was a member of the Choctaw tribe. Her name was Mollie Tashapiathacho.

When we moved to the Memphis area, back in the Spring of 2011, we moved onto a 2 acre parcel next to a lake. It was my task to mow the parcel using a walk-behind mower. As you can imagine, this took awhile, and the drone of the mower drowned out everything else. It was easy for my mind to drift into meditation and prayer.

During one of these "mowing sessions" the phrase "Choctaw Moon" drifted into my brain and I shut off the mower and went in and did an internet search on Choctaw Moon. The search revealed nothing and I went back to mowing.

Soon after, the phrase "Molly can you hear this song I'm singing?" floated through the drone of the mower. I thought of my ancestor, and the fact that Memphis is only about a two hour drive from where my mother's family settled (at this time had not yet visited Attala County, MS). And as I thought of this, other parts of the song began to come forth and a melody began to take shape.

By the time I finished mowing those two acres I pretty much had the song finished. Now the task was to find the song of the fretboard of Kelly (the name given to my Martin D28 guitar).

Choctaw Moon is one of my favorite songs because it speaks to my place in something much bigger than I am, and because of the way it came to me.

Where do songs come from?

Sometimes I get an idea and I let it stew for awhile until it begins to feel like a song. Other times a whole song will seem to just "download" into my brain and it may even contain things that I know nothing about.

To answer the question...I believe songs are a gift from God. And I'm thankful for them.