I wish I could start off this newsletter by telling you about a tour we just returned from…or a recording session we just completed…or a special night we just experienced at the Grand Ole Opry….but unfortunately I can’t.
Just like you, we are still locked down here in Whisperville, and while things in my world never stand still, they have certainly slowed to a crawl.
We did manage to get our newest CD out to some of our fans this past week, though, and I sure do appreciate so many of you ordering an advance copy during our June pre-sale. If your copy hasn’t arrived yet, hang on because it’s on the way. I know because I autographed hundreds of them….and my hand hurts!
Hopefully you will enjoy listening to it. I’ll be interested in hearing your comments, particularly regarding the instrumental versions of our songs. I’m picturing lots of you driving down the road singing along. You can still order a copy, of course. The official release date is not until July 24th.
Speaking of comments, thank for all your kind ones following my stint as a disc jockey recently on Willie’s Roadhouse at Sirius/XM. It was fun getting to feel like I was back in my early days again spinning records. OK, so they aren’t “records” anymore and we don’t “spin” them, but you know what I mean. I’ve loved radio ever since I was a kid, and I love feeling close to my roots.
People keep asking when the Opry will go back to performing in front of live audiences again, and all I can say is that your guess is as good as mine. I do know, however, that it won’t be before August 8th. Socially-distanced backstage tours of the Opry House were scheduled to reopen this past weekend, so that’s at least a start. Let’s cross our fingers that those went well and that they will continue.
About two hundred of us did get to go to the Opry House to say goodbye to one of the greatest guitar players who ever stood on that stage when services for Jimmy Capps were held there June 9th in front of an invitation only audience. So many wonderful tributes have been written and spoken about Jimmy since his unexpected passing, and I can only echo them all. He was a great musician and an even better human being. I’m so glad that I was able to perform alongside him and call him my friend for more than fifty years.
I’ve been staying close to home as most of you have, and trying to make the most of my down time. I’ve been writing some new songs and itching to get back into the recording studio to lay some of them down. I’ve been watering my flowers every morning when Mother Nature doesn’t do it for me, and I’ve actually enjoyed getting better acquainted with my kitchen, my garden hose, and my treadmill. I’ve been giving them all a pretty good workout.
My kids and grandkids came over on Father’s Day evening to help celebrate the occasion outside on my deck, and we gathered out of doors again on my son, Jamey’s, deck to celebrate his birthday on the 25th. I kept wanting to hug everybody, but I kept my distance as did they. Boy, I’ll be glad when this is all over!!
I hope each of you has a good 4th of July weekend and that you’ll remember to follow the guidelines for staying safe. Hopefully we’ll have baseball and some other sports to follow later this month and, if all goes well, maybe even some football in the fall. I’m sure ready. May it be a good month for you In spite of all our current concerns, and I’ll look forward to seeing you right back here the first of August.
Thanks a BILL-ion for everything…..and God bless.
1) During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve read where several country and gospel artists have been performing at drive-in theaters. Is that something you would consider doing?
Been there and done that. I played my first drive-in theater show in Decatur, Georgia, when I was 15-years old. My band and I set up on top of the concession stand and performed between movies. If the people liked our song, they would honk their horns. If we told a joke they thought was funny, they’d blink their headlights. It was hard to get their attention, though, as they walked below us to get their hot dogs, soft drinks, and to use the restrooms. It was not my most favorite place to perform, and even though I’m sure conditions have improved, I really don’t have the urge to try it again.
2) What is it like to stand on the Opry stage? Does it still feel the same as the first time? Like a first love or like an old friend?
It’s a heckuva lot better than standing on top of a concession stand at a drive in theater, I’ll promise you that! And, yes, that first-time feeling never completely goes away. The Opry is both a first-love and an old friend…you described it beautifully. And I’ve sure missed it while we’ve been away.
3) I am combining two questions here: When you have a songwriters appointment, does each writer bring in an idea, start from scratch, or some other process? Can you give us some insight on how you write songs? Do you come up with a title first, start thinking of words that rhyme, use a recorder or jot down ideas on a pad?
I could answer truthfully by saying, “All of the above.” There is no set way to write a song. In a co-writing situation, each writer usually tries to show up with an idea. It could be a lyrical idea or a melodic hook or just a rhythmic “groove.” I like to write from a lyrical idea, but others prefer to start melodically. The young writers usually type the lyrics into their laptops or smart phones, while ol’ ducks like me write with a pad and pencil. I get to the computer part later. We usually don’t put the song onto a recorder until it’s finished or close to being finished. There are no rules to songwriting, and that’s a good thing. If there were rules, I’d have broken them all by now!
4) Quick Takes: Do any of your children sing, and if so, have they ever sung with you? No. Are the performers on Country’s Family Reunion compensated for appearing on the show? Yes. On your box set, are the Wilburn Brothers singing with you? No. Were you ever known as The Honorary Mayor of Nashville? Not to my knowledge. And from the UK: Did you ever meet Ken “Happiness” Dodd? Yes. He came to one of our concerts in Liverpool. What a wonderful, kind, gentle, funny, and talented man. He brought happiness, both the song and the literal kind, to millions.
Thanks for all your questions. I really enjoy receiving them and trying my best to answer. Send yours to me in care of email@example.com or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076, and I’ll see you back here next month.
Charlie Daniels was a big ol’ teddy bear…one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever known…with a wonderful sense of humor and a great outlook on life. I’ve played golf with him, shared the Opry stage with him, sat alongside him at the Titans football games, and always marveled at his talent and his tenacity. There’s a big ol’ hole in lots of our hearts today with the news of his passing.