Here’s hoping each of you had a great Memorial Day weekend, and that you’re ready for June and those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
Memorial Day was especially meaningful to me this year, because the first thing I saw on my phone that morning was a text from my friend, Alex Haley, and a picture of his 94-year old dad, Ed. In case the name isn’t familiar to you, Ed Haley was the former U.S. soldier who inspired my song, “Old Army Hat.” To see him standing with his wife next to an American flag, wearing a veterans’ ball cap on Memorial Day morning was the best beginning to a day that I could possibly imagine. God Bless America!
This is going to be an incredibly exciting and fun-filled month for all of us here in Whisperville, beginning with the annual CMA Music Fest next week and then moving to New York for my induction into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame on the 14th. Following that, on the 15th, we’ll perform for the first time at the new Opry City Stage in Times Square. What a month!
At the moment, it appears that all three of my children will get to experience my Hall of Fame induction with me, thanks to some special folks, not the least of whom is country music’s best friend, Gus Arrendale, of Springer Mountain Farms chicken. Gus is bringing his personal jet from Georgia to Nashville to transport my friend, Vickie, and my daughter, Terri, to New York, neither of whom would be strong enough health-wise to travel that far on their own. My daughter, Jenni, and my son, Jamey, along with his wife, Beth, are coming along too. What a special occasion it’s going to be!
My dear buddy, Steve Wariner, is going along to sing in my honor, and to do the actual induction on my behalf. I don’t have an acceptance speech written…I’m just planning to talk off the top of my head and thank the many, many people responsible for my receiving this honor. I’m hoping to bring some of the excitement to you by way of a live Facebook chat somewhere along the way, followed by lots of pictures and stories later on. Keep watching our website and Facebook page for all the details.
My involvement in the CMA Fest will be limited to some appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, a live re-creation of the old TV show, Match Game, on Thursday, and a guitar-pull session with Bobby Bare on Sunday. I’ll let the younger artists enjoy performing in the hot sun and the always-soaring humidity this year. I’ve seen that movie and even starred in it a few times, going all the way back to the beginning of Fan Fair in 1972.
Thanks to all of you who have reached out with such kind words about the new song I wrote and recorded for Vickie, “Until The Light Comes On Again.” Your reaction to the recording and the video has been amazing, and I thank you for allowing me to share a piece of my off-stage life with you. We’ll be coming with an exciting new single and a new album shortly, so be on the lookout for those. I think I told you the album will be titled simply, “Anderson.”
That’s about it for this time. Oh, my small medical procedure in May turned out fine. Thanks for your prayers and your concern. You’re still the best friends and fans a guy could ever hope to have. And with apologies to all my Mets, Cardinals, Orioles, Nationals, Texans, Phillies, Yankees, and other friends and fans, “Go Braves!”
My best to all…
1) Has there ever been a song you could have recorded and didn’t…or a song you have turned down…that charted top ten or even gone to #1??
Yes. I had first crack at “Funny How Time Slips Away,” before it became a big hit for Billy Walker. Willie Nelson, who wrote it, sang it for me one day up at Tree Publishing, and I thought it sounded too much like “Hello Walls,” which Willie also wrote, and which was a hit at the time for Faron Young. I realized later that it was just Willie’s phrasing that made the two songs sound alike. Ben Peters told me that he wrote “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” for me, and he sent it to me first, but I had just finished a session and wasn’t needing a song at that time. Before I could get back in the studio, Charley Pride heard it, recorded it, and the rest is history.
2) Where can I find the ‘Nanner song you sing on the Opry now and then?
So far as I know, Roy Drusky is the only person who ever recorded “Peel Me A ‘Nanner,” and his recording might not be easy to find these days. It was a hit for him back in early 1964. As many times as I’ve sung that song…and as much fun as my friends have had teasing me about it…I have never actually recorded it myself. One of these days, though, I probably will.
3) I have a question about Bobby Bare instead of you. Does he still sing “All American Boy” bearing in mind the mix-up with names when it was first released?
Now that Bobby and I are working some shows together, I had the chance to ask him that very question a few weeks ago. He said he does it from time to time, but not on all his shows. There was actually not a mix-up on the names. Bobby deliberately recorded it under the name of his friend, Bill Parsons, because Bobby knew he was about to go into the military, and wouldn’t have a chance to promote the record if it were to come out under his own name.
And some quickies:
4) If a person gets VIP tickets for a show, will they get to meet you?
Yes, usually at a meet ‘n greet prior to the concert.
5) We love you in your birth city of Columbia, S.C. Any appearances around here in the near future?
There’s nothing on the books right now, but that can always change. I’m glad to know y’all aren’t ashamed of me down there! Thank you.
Keep your questions coming. You can send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. I’ll be back here with more next month. Stay curious.
There’s nothing like walking in a field of flags to bring home the true meaning of Memorial Day. That plus the picture of 94-year old Ed Haley and his wife, Connie, that I received early that morning. Mr. Haley, as you can read in my letter, was the man who inspired my song, “Old Army Hat.” Does he look great or what? I thought you might also like to see the ad my friend, Gus Arrendale, has taken out in the Songwriters Hall of Fame souvenir program that will be distributed to all the attendees at the big event on June 14th. I hope you’ll remember Springer Mountain Farms products when you’re shopping…knowing that Gus and his company are the best friends country music ever had!
I’ve been all over the world singing about having a “Wild Weekend” for years, but in real life, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a weekend quite like the one I just had.
Actually, it was more like a “wild week” because it started last Tuesday afternoon when my publicist, Scott Adkins, and I flew to New York in advance of my Songwriters Hall of Fame induction set for Thursday. We landed around five o’clock and spent over 90-minutes trying to get into Manhattan at the heart of rush hour. I told Scott, “New York traffic is getting as bad as Nashville!”
We hit the ground running on Wednesday morning with a music rehearsal at 9:30 (the Hall of Fame orchestra had worked up a marvelous arrangement on “Still” which I was scheduled to sing following my induction Thursday night), a string of interviews at places like Fox News and Sirius/XM radio in the early afternoon, followed by dinner with my publisher, Troy Tomlinson, and my buddy, Steve Wariner, that evening. Steve had flown up to sing “Tips Of My Fingers” in my honor and then to present me with my Hall of Fame trophy. I can never thank him enough for making the effort and taking the time to be there. He has been such an important part of my journey, and my big night wouldn’t have been the same without him.
I slept in Thursday morning, had breakfast in my room, then hit the fitness center on the 23rd floor of our hotel. I have never walked on a treadmill with a view quite like that of looking out across New York City.
Thursday afternoon Gus Arrendale’s plane arrived with my manager, Lee Willard, my children, Terri, Jenni, and Jamey and Jamey’s wife, Beth, and my friend, Vickie, aboard, along with Gus himself and his friend, Karen. I will never be able to repay Gus for his kind generosity in bringing my family to be part of one of the biggest nights of my life. Neither Terri nor Vickie would have been strong enough health-wise to have made the trip, and only through Gus’s good graces were they able to be there. Thanks again, Gus, and y’all buy Springer Mountain Farms chicken!!
The hours after everyone arrived were hectic. Vickie and I walked the red carpet at 5:30, went to a VIP cocktail party with the other inductees at 6:00, had a group photo taken at 6:30 (where I told my fellow inductee, Alan Jackson, that he and I were the “token hillbillies” and he replied, “I’m used to that!”), and then joined some 3,000 of our closest friends for dinner.
Following the delicious meal, the awards presentation itself was amazing. Seven writers were inducted, and I was next to last on the bill. It was about two hours into the show when Steve sang, said some very nice things about me, then called me to the podium. He handed me my trophy and pointed to the microphone where I was supposed to speak.
I thanked him and everyone at the Songwriters Hall of Fame for the tremendous honor they were bestowing on me, shared a funny story from my early songwriting days, then borrowed from Little Jimmy Dickens, sharing his old line about seeing a turtle on top of a fence post and knowing the turtle didn’t get up there by himself. He had to have had some help along the way.
I related myself to that turtle, then thanked the many key people who helped me climb to the top of the fence post where I found myself at the moment. I admitted, “the view from up here is pretty darned incredible!” then walked to center stage, cued the orchestra, and sang “Still.” The crowd gave me a second standing ovation.
We were invited to an after-party in a 43rd-floor penthouse of the hotel, but we didn’t stay long. Everybody was tired and we knew we had a busy day ahead on Friday.
I really wanted to spend some time with my family…after all, it was Father’s Day weekend…and the weather was beautiful. We gathered at ten a.m. and went for a carriage ride in Central Park. We had lunch at a small Italian restaurant nearby and talked and visited until it was time for me to meet my band (who had flown up Friday morning) for sound check at the new Opry City Stage venue. We had a 90-minute show scheduled there on Friday night.
Everyone in our group came to the show, plus my booking agents, Bob Kinkead, his wife, Julie, along with Greg Scott and his wife, Sheree. I saw several longtime friends I hadn’t seen in years, and again it was a very special evening. We had to “sleep fast” that night, though, because our call time for the flight back to Nashville was ten a.m. on Saturday. With the change from Eastern to Central time, we were back in Music City at noon.
As I am writing this, I’ve had 48-hours to unwind from the whirlwind, but I haven’t been able to completely do so. I keep thinking of all the amazing things that took place in such a relatively short amount of time…and I’ll admit to sneaking a glance or two at my Hall of Fame trophy. It sure is pretty.
And I keep thinking back over the years and wondering how all these things happened to a kid from Commerce, Georgia, who was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
Thank you, God, and thank you my fans and friends and family. What incredible new memories I was able to make this past week. I continue to be most richly blessed.