Like any loving mother longing to hear from her son, Mitzi Owen picked up on the first ring.
But when the two of them got past the small talk and got to some of the stories about Owen’s youth, his move to Nashville and his celebrity status now, that’s when I couldn’t stop listening.
Here were the ten other highlights from the show:
1. Mitzi knew what the doctors didn’t. “I sensed it (was twins) from the very beginning. But the doctors kept saying, ‘No it’s only one, it’s just gonna be a big baby.’ But the day I delivered, as soon as Jarrod was born, they said there was at least one more. I wanted to scream, ‘I told you so,’” she said. And even though the Owens weren’t prepared with an extra name, an extra crib, or an extra car seat, they loved raising twin boys. “If we would’ve had any more kids, I would’ve wanted to have twin boys. I didn’t know any different.”
2. Owen used to do watercolor paintings with his mom. Both mother and son admitted that Owen was a straight-up momma’s boy, and that he picked up all of his creativity from her. “You were creative and you loved words. I always felt like you’d be some sort of a writer,” she told Jake.
3. Mitzi’s dad would’ve been bragging on Jake. “My dad loved country music. This was in the early ’70s, and we’d be listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But he would hold me captive and play country and say, ‘This is music.’ He would’ve been bragging on you,” she said.
4. Mitzi had no idea her son was honing his craft in college. One time when she’d come to Tallahassee to see Jarrod play tennis, he told her that she should stay to see Jake play. “I said, ‘Play what?’ I didn’t know. And it’s funny because you had a humongous crowd around you,” she admitted. But Jake believed in his potential. When people laughed at him for playing for free, he told them, “I think one day people will pay me to do what I do.”
5. Mitzi helped Jake move to Nashville. When Owen decided to leave college to chase his neon dreams, his mom was his shotgun rider. “I was nervous; I was excited for you. We knew nothing about Nashville. We knew no one. You never want disappointment for your children. But you were so confident and determined,” she recalled. Jake’s memory of that drive was when they got close enough to see the sign. “I remember vividly — with you sitting there in the passenger seat, coming up I-65 north — the minute I saw the sign that said ’Nashville.’”
6. That hopeful homeless man. When the Owens stayed the night at a hotel in town, they ran into a homeless man. “He said, ‘Who are you?’ You said your name. Then he said, ‘No, you’re somebody.’ You said, ‘No sir. I’m just getting here.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re gonna be somebody.’ I got chill bumps,” she said.
7. Moving from Josh to J.R. to Jake. “I didn’t want to be Josh anymore,” Owen said, because there were already a couple country singers named Josh. “So I said I was JR,” he said. Ultimately he went with Jake — his late grandfather’s nickname — and is happy to report that in all his years as a country singer, there hasn’t been another Jake.
8. Mitzi wishes she had a bag of concert tickets. “I think people think I have access to everything you do. It doesn’t work that way. It’s so hard to tell people no. If I had a bag of tickets, I’d go around passing them all out,” she said.
9. It’s not her son’s voice that Mitzi is proud of, it’s his heart. “I think what has brought dad and I the most pleasure and pride is seeing how you have conducted yourself. You give everything you have. You’ve been that way since you were a little boy. We’re blessed every day,” she said.
10. Lastly, a little motherly advice. “Be supportive. It’s not always easy because you never want to let your kids go. You’ve gotta give your children their wings. You gotta let them try. You’ve got to let them fail,” she said. But Jake and his mom both agreed that the Owen family motto — “I love you higher than the sky and deeper than the ocean” — is always in their hearts.