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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076, and I’ll see you back here next month.