There he was, Reverend Justin Hylton on my computer screen. His picture brought me to The Listening Room last night. In the picture I saw a story. In his songs I heard a journey…I was intrigued.
This man is a remarkable storyteller. He openly talks of struggles, hardships, loneliness and yearning for more.
He stood there, a couple of feet from me. A tall man, made even taller with a large, light grey Stetson cowboy-style hat. His hair was very long and his beard was too. I wondered with a name that includes the title of Reverend and that untouched hair and beard…was it a religious thing or just a personal thing…possibly it was a rebellious statement: I’ll do what I want, not what society tells me…I didn’t ask.
After being in his presence and hearing his stories, I believe he may have a tiny bit of rebellion in him but overall he is a gentle, kind man who can play guitar well and sing from his soul.
I showed my neighbor his picture today while we were walking…she squealed and said “Weren’t you afraid?” she added, “He looks like a drifter to me!”
I said that is exactly right …he is a DRIFTER. He travels this country continually in his own customized van, the road is his home and he carries his sleeping quarters with him.
Everyone has a journey. This man knows he is where he belongs. Many people are not that fortunate…they wander through their lifetime, lost.
First and foremost, Rev Hylton is a storyteller; I just love a good storyteller. He has a great advantage in that he has REAL life stories to tell. He has lived through struggles, through rejection, through feeling unloved, misunderstood and even feeling unworthy. He has fought the demons of addiction and won that battle as he has been sober now over 9 years. He has courage like few others as he unashamedly bears is soul for all to see and think of it what they want.
As any person would be in his circumstances; he sometimes feels deeply lonely. Whether we admit it or not we all want to love and be loved. It is very difficult to hold on to love when you are not anchored and drifting in the big sea we call life.
All of these adventures and the drifting feeds his yearning and he pours that into his music. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him rip on his guitar….he is an excellent guitarist. He sings from a place deep inside that has a need to speak to us all and let us know what he has seen and felt.
My favorite song by Rev Justin Hylton is “Stubborn Nail”…He says this is the story of a trip he and his friend took as they struggled with many issues and faced even greater issues along the way…here are some lines from this song.
“We were rolling without any shame. We headed south, grabbed some gear
ran out west from all of our fears.
We landed in that town, rode and rode while all the snow fell down.
Then that heavy hammer came down. We were that stubborn nail being beat down.
We lost the battle not even knowing we were at war,
never heard that knocking at our door.
We split our ways, I headed south
A pirate’s life, a big smile on my mouth
Rum by day, Rum by night
Once again, I lost that fight
Ran up north to my hometown
Then that heavy hammer came down. We were that stubborn nail being beat down
We lost the battle not even knowing we were at war.”
Another song that stuck with me is titled "Reba" and he mentioned the Herkimer Diamond mines in New York and the quartz rocks from that mine tie him to her.
I fill privileged to get a peek into his journey and feel his pain and his courage as life gets a little better every day for him.
He sang a song about a cute girl he never met, yet he yearns for someone to share his life. He has the same basic needs as the rest of us. To love and to be loved.
His music is available on iTunes, spotify, youtube, look him up.
Remember his name Reverend Justin Hylton.
His music is moving, it is deep just like his emotions. I could feel his heart in every word.
To sum it up, this man has earned an audience, he has carved out a life that was meant for him as he travels the US, in his home, carrying his story with him.
He needs you to know “Rev Justin Hylton was here!” He is talented, he is intriguing, he is absolutely remarkable!
Thank you to Rev Justin Hylton for telling your stories and entertaining us last night
Thank you to Jim Pennington and The Listening Room of Mobile for bringing him
Thank you to those who came to hear him again.