- You say radio probably wouldn’t play a new Bill Anderson single today. How did George Jones keep his music on the radio so long?
Well, for one thing he was George Jones! At the same time, radio did stop playing his music several years prior to his passing. You can go back and read some of his comments about it at the time. He wasn’t too thrilled with the way he and other traditional artists were treated during his last few years.
- Wondering is there any reason you never wear any of those western suits I seen in your videos? You are the sharpest dresser in Nashville!
Thank you. Mostly I quit wearing them because they all shrunk and didn’t fit anymore! Isn’t it funny how clothes will do that as we get older? Actually, I do still wear some of them occasionally at the Opry and sometimes out on tour. If I had back all the money I spent buying those things for me and my band, I’d be writing this from my oceanfront home in the Caribbean!
- Why are so many artists, including you, releasing tracks on vinyl records again? Kids today don’t know what vinyl is.
Oh, but you’d be surprised what the kids know today! In fact, it’s the kids who have discovered vinyl and have helped create its resurgence. Kids seem to be able to figure out what’s “real” in life quicker than adults sometimes, and the sound of recorded music pressed onto vinyl is much more “real” than that of processed digital tracks burned onto a compact disc. With this thought in mind, I truly believe if and when traditional country music ever makes a comeback, the kids will be the ones who “discover” it and lead the charge.
span>1) I just came across the song “Double S” on my playlist. What was your inspiration for writing that song?
I was on the bus killing time between a matinee and a nighttime show when the idea struck me. I was making the band laugh by seeing how many words I could come up with that started with the letter “S,” and the more they laughed the crazier I became. Finally, I went to the rear of the bus and began to construct a story out of all these words. I never intended for it to be a song…it was a joke as much as anything else. But when I got back to Nashville and showed what I had written to my producer, Buddy Killen, he began putting a melody behind it and a song was born. It was one of those love/hate records in my career. People either loved it or they hated it. I’ll be nice and not ask which side you fall on!
2) I have seen a lot of your appearances on different game shows. Which was your favorite to be on? And did you pattern your great hosting style on Fandango after any one game show host?
I think I enjoyed being on “Password Plus” more than any other game show, probably because I did better there than on some of the others. I like words and word games, and it was fun to help my contestant partners win lots of money. I have never tried patterning myself…either as a singer or as a game show host…after anyone else. I just tried to be myself and hoped that somebody somewhere liked what I attempted to do.
3) How are you able to perform a song that you have literally sung for decades and still sing it with energy for your audience?
I’m sure different artists handle this in different ways, but to me a song is new every time I sing it. Somebody in that audience may be hearing it for the first time. Somebody else bought a ticket just to hear that song. Either way, it’s up to me to deliver it as best as I can. Before I go onstage every night I tell myself that the show I’m about to do is the most important one I have ever done. I’ve never done a perfect show and I never will, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.
Quickies: Is there any chance the Country’s Family Reunion Road Shows will return to Branson? I never say never, but I doubt we’ll be bringing those back anytime soon. I have looked and looked for the sheet music to “Walk Out Backwards.” Is it available anywhere? That song came out in 1960, and back then they didn’t publish a lot of sheet music for country songs. I can’t find where any was ever printed. Have you ever co-written songs with Skip Ewing and Paul Overstreet? They are among my favorite songwriters. Mine too, and I have written with both of them. Skip and I had a #1 hit (along with Debbie Moore) on Mark Wills’ “Wish You Were Here.” Paul and I haven’t been quite that lucky….yet! One of my favorite female singers was Penny DeHaven. Did you ever do any shows with her? I helped Penny get her first recording contract with Imperial Records, and she recorded several of my songs. I’m sure we must have toured together, but I can’t recall any particular instances. Have you ever thought of doing a duets album? I’ve only done six of them…four with Jan Howard and two with Mary Lou Turner. Plus I’ve recorded duets with Roy Acuff, David Allen Coe, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and others. Where have you been??
Thanks as always for your questions. My mailbox is open 24/7 at email@example.com or in care of P. O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076 if you’ve got one you’d like to send me. See you back here next time.
1) To start off the year here’s a question a friend asked me:
If you were able to meet your 18 year old self – what 3 words of advice would you give to him?
That’s an interesting question. Let’s see…when I was 18-years old I was going to school every morning, working at a radio station all afternoon, and driving for an hour in between. At night I was studying, writing songs, or playing music somewhere. I was burning the candle at both ends 24/7, and I never really stopped for the next sixty-plus years. I’m sure my work ethic was responsible for a lot of my success, but it was probably also responsible for an ulcer and some high blood pressure. So, if I had to put it into three words, I think I’d tell my 18-year old self to stop and “Smell The Roses.” Slow down a bit, Kid, and don’t be afraid to enjoy what you’re working for.
2) I noticed in a group picture of The Po’ Folks Band that Pat, the steel guitar player, was missing. Is he still with the band, and if not, what is he doing now? Also, once you are able to tour again, will you ever be going back to the Bill Anderson Performing Arts Center in Commerce, Georgia, for another show?
No, Pat Severs is no longer with our band. He moved to a beach somewhere in South Carolina shortly before the pandemic hit last year. I assume he’s doing what the rest of us are doing – staying home. I would love to perform at the PAC in Commerce again someday. I hope I’ll have the opportunity.
3. I think the Waffle House video is a riot. Who are some of those people? Any family?
Thank you. We had a lot of fun making it. I’m sure you recognized Jeannie Seely as one of the waitresses along with Gretchen “Redneck Woman” Wilson. Tanya Tucker and Erin Enderlin were sitting next to me at the counter, and our wonderful cook was, of course, Kid Rock. My son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson were in a quick scene sitting in one of the booths as was my manager. I don’t know who the rest of those crazies were…they just wandered in off the street and wouldn’t leave until we fed them.
Quickies: Was George Jones ever a guest on Family Reunion? No, unfortunately, he wasn’t. He was on the way to the studio one day but got sick and had to return home. We were never able to reschedule him and that was our loss. Besides your hometown and Nashville, what is your favorite place to perform? Anyplace where the sound and the lighting are good and the people come to the show in a mood to be entertained. I don’t have any geographical favorites. I love everywhere. I know you are a big Georgia fan, but I’m wondering if you follow the Falcons or Titans in the pros. I was a Falcon fan until the Titans came to Nashville, but now I’m Titan two-toned blue all the way. Got to support the hometown team! I sure would love to know the story behind the song, “Still.” It’s one of my all-time favorites! Thank you.The short story behind it is that I ran into a former girlfriend that I hadn’t seen in several years. The longer version begins on Page 78 of my autobiography and runs for several pages. I don’t have the room to repeat it here, but I’m glad you like the song.
Thanks for your questions. I have several left over from our recent online chat that I will get to in March. Meantime, if you’re dying to know something, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to help out. See you back here next month.
1) I am curious…are you the current longest running member of the Grand Ole Opry?
No, there are probably several Opry members who can run longer than I can. Oh, wait….you mean have I been at the Opry the longest, right? No, Stonewall Jackson joined the show in the late fifties, and I didn’t come along until 1961. There are no living members who joined between Stonewall and me, though, so next to him I’ve been around the longest. Hopefully, I’ll get to celebrate being a 60-year member in 2021.
2) Did you ever get interviewed by Ken Burns for the video, “Country Music?” With your standing in the music business I can’t see how they didn’t.
You must not have watched the show because I’m all over it. Episode #4, which focuses on artists and music from the sixties, features me the most.
3) What can we do about the fact that Country’s Family Reunion is not on the air anymore? Is there a petition we can sign? How do we contact RFD?
This was my most-asked question this month, and I wish I knew the answer. I don’t know of a petition you could sign, but you can write to RFD-TV at 49 Music Square W., Nashville, TN. 37203. I’m not sure it would do any good, however, as the decision was a joint one between Larry Black’s production company, Gabriel Communications, and the network. Larry made his money from CFR on the sales of the DVD sets, but now with streaming and all kinds of free music and online video services, the DVD’s don’t sell much anymore. The shows are very costly to produce, and it finally reached the point where somebody had to pull the plug. The shows were a big part of my life for 23-years. Thankfully, you can still access them on Country Road TV.
Quickies: What song took you the longest to write? Believe it or not, “Peel Me A ‘Nanner” took over three years to finish. I couldn’t figure how to match verses to the silly little chorus that I wrote in about five minutes. How can I share a subject that you could be inspired to turn into a song? As with all songwriting questions, I suggest you reach out to the Nashville Songwriters Association, International, at www.nashvillesongwriters.com. They have some amazing programs for aspiring songwriters. Will there be or was there a tribute for Jan Howard? Jeff Hoag, the outstanding new nighttime announcer on AM650 WSM, did a marvelous radio tribute to Jan not long after she passed. I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine that show is still available in the WSM archives. Mandy Barnett recently honored Jan by singing “Evil On Your Mind” on the televised Grand Ole Opry. I collect country music DVD’s, but I do not have any of Bill Anderson. Have you ever done any DVD’s and, if not, why? I assume you mean full-concert DVD’s, and I have done only one. That was on the occasion of my 40th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member back in 2001. It was titled, “Bill Anderson – 40 Years Of Hits LIVE.” It was released by Varese-Sarabande Records in California, but my guess is that it is probably out of print.
Thanks for getting the New Year off to a good start with your questions. I’ve about exhausted all the ones in my files from 2020, though, so send me some new ones. You can write to me at email@example.com or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. Fill up my mailbox, and we’ll see you back here next time.