- Out of all the songs you have written, what are your Top 5 that you love most?That’s not an easy question to answer for a couple of reasons. First, as I’ve said many times, my songs are like my children, and you know it’s impossible to pick a favorite child. Too, my favorite songs today might not be my favorites tomorrow. But you asked, so I’ll give it a try: “Mama Sang A Song,” because it’s so personal; “A Lot Of Things Different,” because it reflects on the positive ways we can change our lives as we grow older, “Country,” a song that hasn’t been released yet that I wrote with Mo Pitney and Bobby Tomberlin, “Demons,” a co-write with Jon Randall and an obscure cut from a Kenny Chesney record, and “Old Army Hat,” because it’s such a true and powerful story.
- Do you really answer all of your e-mails?No, I can’t possibly answer all of my e-mails, but the ones that do get answered are all answered by me.
- When you wrote “City Lights” in 1958, do you think it was a hit because at that time traditional country music was hot?No. In fact, it was just the opposite. Traditional country music had almost disappeared under the onslaught of a new thing called rock ‘n roll back in the late fifties. Looking back, I think there were two records that helped turn the tide back toward tradition…..”Alone With You” by Faron Young and “City Lights” by Ray Price. Roy Drusky wrote one, and I was lucky enough to have written the other.Thanks for continuing to send us your questions. Address them firstname.lastname@example.org or to me at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. I always look forward to seeing what’s on your mind.
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.