Do you sometimes feel as though we’re all actors in the movie, “Ground Hog Day?”
I sure do…one day after another with very few changes. Oh well, it is what it is, and we just have to stay strong, hang onto our faith, and believe it will all be behind us someday soon.
Actually, life is marching on, and some good things are happening all around us. The Country Music Hall of Fame is reopening Sept. 10th and that’s good news. Even better news broke today that the Opry is considering some limited audience shows later this month. Jeannie Seely’s new album, on which we sing “When Two Worlds Collide” together, is receiving rave reviews. We recorded a Zoom session the other day with Jeannie, Willie Nelson, Steve Wariner, Rhonda Vincent and myself which you should be able to see and hear sometime soon. Moe Bandy’s new record was released on Aug. 28th, and I’m honored to have written or co-written three of the songs in his package. He told me he recorded “City Lights,” because his son asked him to. It’s his son’s favorite song.
And speaking of “City Lights,” on the night of August 27th, the 63rd anniversary of my writing that song on top of the little hotel in Commerce, Georgia, I sat outside on my deck in Nashville teaching my 12-year old granddaughter, Hallie, how to make a few chords on her guitar. My life was changed forever on August 27th all those years ago. I wonder if she’ll look back someday and say her life was changed on that exact same date in 2020. Stranger things have happened.
But back to recordings: We’ve continued to receive several outstanding reviews and many very positive comments on our “Hits Re-Imagined” project, and I thank all of you who have added it to your collection. It’s part of a 2-CD special we’re offering our fan club members this month, and if you haven’t ordered your copy yet, now might be a great time. A reminder that any item you order from us online comes to you personally autographed.
I’ve been approached recently by some folks…including a couple from overseas…asking me to record some new material either with them or for them. I can’t go into the details just yet, but some interesting things might be about to happen. If we can just get the recording studios back open, maybe I can get inside and start whispering again!
On the personal side of things, my oldest granddaughter, Rae Robeson, had a bad fire at her apartment in Chicago last month, and she’s been living in a hotel for the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, she was not at home when the fire…supposedly caused by an electrical malfunction…broke out. Her fiance, Zach, was not at home either, but their beloved English bulldog, Winston, was in the apartment alone. Fortunately, a neighbor alerted the firefighters, and they broke down the door and rescued him. The apartment was a total loss, but it could have been so much worse.
I got a lot of great responses to the story last month of my attempting to peel a peach only to drop it into my garbage disposal and having to remove it by hand. One fan even went so far as to mail me a disposal cover which has already come in handy. Well, if you think the peach story was funny, wait ’til you hear what else I have done.
A friend was visiting late one afternoon when I said I needed to go outside and water my plants and flowers. My friend went out on the deck with me, and as I turned the hose toward a pretty blue-green plant and began to wet it down she asked, “Why are you watering that?” “Because it’s thirsty,” I replied.
“No it’s not,” she laughed. “That’s an artificial plant.” I bent forward and looked more closely. “You’re right,” I answered, totally embarrassed. I had spent the last six months watering an artificial plant! No wonder it didn’t grow!
Join us back here again next month for another chapter in the continuing saga of why a hillbilly singer/songwriter should never be quarantined at home!
Thanks a BILL-ion….
1) I have been a fan of yours for many years, and I know you have an Opry ring. I have always been curious to see what it looks like up close. Is there any way you could show a picture of it?
When the Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1975, they had a custom ring designed for all the male members of the cast and a special 50th Anniversary bracelet designed for the ladies. Our initials were engraved inside and on the back, and we were told that the molds were destroyed shortly after they were manufactured. That was to insure that these items could never be duplicated. I don’t have a lot of material things that are very important to me, but I treasure my Opry ring. We’ve printed a picture of it in the photo section of the newsletter.
2) What is a normal day like in your life? When does it start and end? And do you always sit around with pen and paper in hand?
Back before COVID-19 and the quarantine came along, I used to joke and tell people there was no such thing as a “normal day” in my life. One day I’d be co-writing a song with a friend, the next day I might be in the recording studio or doing a television or radio show, and the next I’d be packing a suitcase for a road trip. Recently, for me and for most of you, things have been quite different and much more routine. These days I usually get up around seven or eight o’clock, have my coffee and my quiet time, check my e-mail and my messages, and take care of as many of my business and household chores as I can before noon. I don’t walk around with a pen and paper in hand, but I do keep a guitar handy, and I often write in the early afternoon and evening. I get on my treadmill and exercise before dinner, watch a ball game or a movie or read for awhile, and try to turn my light off between ten and eleven. Exciting stuff, huh? I miss the crazy, unpredictable days I used to have, and hope we can get back to them again soon.
3) When the backup players…like Jimmy Capps…play on a record do they just get a one-time fee or do they get another percent if it becomes a hit?
That’s a great question, and the answer today is different from the one I might have given just a few years ago. In the early days, musicians only got paid union scale for recording sessions, and they did not participate in the success of the recordings they played on. That changed back in the early 2000’s. According to Dave Pomeroy, head of the Nashville Association of Musicians, 5% of the monies earned by a digital recording today goes into an Intellectual Royalty Fund to be divided among the back-up musicians and background singers who performed on that particular recording. In 2019, a total of 62-million dollars was distributed among these musicians and singers, not exactly an insignificant amount, and well deserved.
Quickies: 1) I am wondering if you get residuals for your appearances on the older game shows like Match Game, Password Plus, etc. Yes, but it’s not very much. I think my last check was for $19.00. 2) On the original recording of “World Of Make Believe” who is the male background singer? It sounds just like Freddie Hart. I don’t recall, but it was not Freddie. 3) What was the song you used to sing at your shows where you told the fans to put their arms around the person next to them? That was my country-disco song, “I Can’t Wait Any Longer.” We used to have a lot of fun with that one.
Thanks for all your questions, and don’t stop sending them in. Our address is email@example.com or P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. Stay curious…and we’ll see you back here next time.
“The top picture is a close-up of the Grand Ole Opry ring I wrote about in the Ask Bill section of our newsletter. You can see the year “1925” embossed on one side of the ring. That’s the year the Opry began. I couldn’t fit both sides into the picture, but on the other side is “1975,” date of the Opry’s 50th Anniversary and the year the rings were presented to us. While the ring doesn’t have a lot of monetary value, it’s very sentimental to me and something I really care about. The middle picture is of someONE I really care about, my grandson, Gabe. We are socially distancing here while celebrating his 16th birthday on August 6th. Gabe continues to battle cancer, and we continue to appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers on his behalf. The bottom picture was taken last week when my longtime buddy, Steve Wariner, and I got together on Zoom and wrote a new song. I couldn’t help but think how far it is from writing a song on a hotel rooftop in Commerce, Georgia, to writing on Zoom in 2020. I think we put together a pretty good song. Hopefully, somebody will think enough of it to record it somewhere down the road. If they do, you’ll be the first to know.”
I have always prided myself on being…or at least trying to be…a glass-half-full kind of guy.