1) When you think of your very best friends are they ones from the music business or those outside the business?
I feel very blessed to have good friends both inside and outside of the music business. I would say that the majority of my “very best” friends, though, are from inside the business. Outside of music, most of my closest friends either have (or have had) careers in sports or some other form of entertainment. I have quite a few good friends in radio and had quite a few in the TV world when I was appearing on game shows and soap operas back in the day. Sadly, most of those have passed away.
2) I am a huge fan of yours but also of the Williams family. I know Hank Sr. was one of your heroes and one of mine, but my favorite Williams is Hank Jr. I’ve heard you say you worked with him back in the old days. My question: Do you have a friendship with Hank Jr. or any of the Williams family members outside the music business?
I did work a lot with Hank Jr. in his early career days, but not very much in recent years. I’ve worked some road dates and several Opry spots alongside his daughter, Holly, and written with his son, Sam, but I’ve never had what you would call a close relationship outside of the music business with any of the Williams family. Unless you count the time I sold Hank Jr.’s mother, Audrey, my tour bus. But that’s another story for another time.
3) I have a copy of Daniel O’Donnell’s new CD where he sings your song, “Someday It’ll All Make Sense.” My question is did he need to receive permission to record the song and have to pay royalties to you and the other writers of the song? Have you ever had the opportunity to meet him?
Daniel himself did not have to ask permission to record the song, but his record company had to obtain a license from my publishing company and the other publishers involved. That license specifies that the record company has the right to release the song and will, in turn, pay us royalties based on the sales of Daniel’s record. Yes, I have met him and he’s a very nice guy. I appreciate very much his having sung quite a few of my songs over the years.
4) Our Question Of The Month comes from Charles in Florida who asks: “While I am sure the selectiveness of the Country Music Hall of Fame increases the honor of receiving the induction, I’ve heard many folks say they believe there is quite the backlog of worthy candidates to be inducted. As someone who was inducted in the year of the largest Hall class ever, do you think another larger class is warranted?”
That’s a great question, and I can assure you the topic has been discussed and debated countless times within the walls of that great institution. And everybody seems to have their own viewpoint. I agree that the backlog of worthy candidates is large and something needs to be done about it, especially for the pioneers of our format from back in the 30’s and 40’s. Today’s young country community has no idea who Lulu Belle & Scotty were. Nor Molly O’Day, the Blue Sky Boys, the Maddox Brothers & Rose, or the Bailes Brothers, or other deserving acts from long ago. Therefore, they are never going to vote for their induction. My suggestion has always been that our Hall follow in the tradition of the Baseball HOF and establish an Old Timers or Veteran’s category to honor those of our founding fathers and mothers who might otherwise never be properly recognized for their early contributions. There is probably no perfect solution, but I think establishing something like this would be a great first step.
Quickies: I love your “Peel Me A Nanner” song. Did anyone ever record it besides Roy Drusky? Not that I know of. I’ve always said I was going to cut it, but for some reason I never have. Guess I’d better get with it! I’ve been to the Opry twice…once at the Ryman and once at the Opry House. Which one do you like to perform in best? The onstage experience at the Ryman is like no other, but for convenience and creature comforts offstage, the Opry House ranks higher. (You think I should have been a politician?) I know you knew Jim Reeves. Do you have any funny stories related to him that you could share? I knew Jim quite well. He recorded several of my songs during his lifetime and I toured with him on many occasions. I never associated the word “funny” with him, though. He was pretty serious both onstage and off. He earned his nickname, “Gentleman Jim.” Do you still visit Falls Creek Falls state park in Tennessee? I met you there in the early eighties at the golf course. That’s a beautiful spot, but I haven’t been there in years. Thanks for the reminder. I don’t try to play golf anymore, but I need to put another visit on my bucket list. The scenery alone is worth the trip.
Thanks for all your questions this month, and please keep ’em coming. You can always write to me at email@example.com and I’ll try my best to satisfy your curiosity. If you submit our Question of The Month, you’ll receive any item of merchandise you select from our online store absolutely free of charge. See you back here in March.