And Happy New Year!
I wish each of you twelve months of health and happiness here in 2023. After a couple of wacky years dealing with Covid, inflation, and all kinds of other distractions, let’s hope the roads smooth out and we can return to some sense of normalcy in the days ahead. I hope you had a great Christmas, and I appreciate your joining us for our first newsletter of the New Year.
Christmas was anything but normal for those of us in Whisperville. Five members of my family tested positive for Covid during the holidays, and then sub-zero temperatures, snow, and wind chills of minus 20-degrees invaded us. Like many of you, we had to spread our Christmas family time across an entire week, but I learned to be flexible years ago when I was on tour so much of the time. This was just another small pothole, and I’ve hit lots of those over the years.
I spent much of my time reading your letters, notes, and Christmas cards, and I thank you for every one of them. Your messages were very kind and thoughtful.
As we move into a New Year I find myself looking over my shoulder at the year just past, and while lots of good things happened in 2022, there was a large dose of sadness as well. Seems like every time I turned around I was having to say goodbye to somebody special in my life.
Peter Cooper, the co-author of my 2016 autobiography and the prime architect behind my exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, died unexpectedly December 6th, the result of a fall. He was only 52-years old. He and I bonded from his early days in Nashville as a reporter for the Tennessean newspaper. After all, we were both journalists from South Carolina who loved country music and baseball more than just about anything. We went to the Braves Spring Training together, to Nashville Sounds games on many occasions, and once even snuck away to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to watch his beloved Packers play that other sport at Lambeau Field. Working on the book and the exhibit with him were truly labors of love. He leaves behind a 13-year old son and a lot of hurtin’ hearts…including mine.
And then a few days before Christmas, I got word that Charlie Monk, the self-proclaimed Mayor Of Music Row and a friend of mine for more than fifty years, had passed away as well. Many of you were familiar with Charlie as the morning DJ on Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius/XM radio. Charlie was one of those guys who made everybody he came in contact with feel better simply by smiling and saying hello. Music Row won’t be the same without our Mayor.
Looking ahead, our February newsletter will probably be a few days late because I hope to include some news and a picture or two from my trip to the Grammy Awards Feb. 5th out in Los Angeles. Whether I win or not, receiving the nomination is a great way to begin the New Year. I haven’t been on a commercial airline flight since Covid broke out in 2020, though, so wish us smooth skies and safe landings.
Right now I don’t plan to go back on tour this year, but I do have some interesting projects in the works. Among other things, I hope to write a bunch of new songs, make a new record or two, and continue to perform as often as possible at the Grand Ole Opry. There’s excitement in my family, too, as my son, Jamey, begins a new phase of his career at Delta Air Lines by moving up to pilot their largest planes, the 757 and 767. My grandson, Blake, is going on a six-week mission trip to Prague, Czechoslovakia, for Crusade For Christ in May, and grandkids, Gabe and Greta, will both be graduating from high school that same month. Gabe’s health continues to hold steady, and we continue to thank you for your positive thoughts and prayers on his behalf.
Well, I’m about out of time and space, so stay warm, stay safe, and as always, thanks for everything….
1) You sang your song, “Peel Me A ‘Nanner” on the Opry recently, and included a verse that Roy Drusky did not sing on his recording of the song. Did you write it later? And have you made significant changes to any songs you wrote after they were recorded…other than adding a child to “Wild Weekend” after J-Bird was born?
So far as I recall, I wrote that third verse at the same time I wrote the other two verses, but for some reason Roy…or his producer…chose to not include it when they cut the song. Back in those days (mid-60’s), an artist would get more airplay the shorter a record was. Roy’s cut came in under two minutes, and the DJ’s played the fire out of it. I don’t recall any significant changes I might have made to any other songs, but there may well have been some I’ve forgotten about.
2) I have a bunch of your albums and CD’s, and I was wondering how many #1 hits you have had. And which song was your last #1 hit?
Oh boy, you are opening quite a can of worms here. Back in the day when I was having hit records, there were three national country charts published every week. One was in Billboard magazine, one in CashBox magazine, and one in a publication called Record World. These charts would generally reflect the same overall musical trends, but they were seldom identical. A record might be #1 in CashBox and only #5 in Billboard. Or vice versa. No one chart was considered “official.”
Over the years, Billboard kept track of their charts the best, and eventually became the source the industry trusted…partly because the other magazines went out of business and their charts and methodology were lost. If you go by Billboard, I have had 7 #1 records, but if you also include CashBox and Record World, I’ve have had between 15 and 20. In Billboard, I have also had 9 records that reached #2, most of which went #1 somewhere else.
According to Billboard, my last #1 hit was “Sometimes” with Mary Lou Turner in 1975. According to other publications my last #1 was in 1978 with “I Can’t Wait Any Longer.” Now is it clear as mud?
3) What is your biggest regret in your career?
When you’ve had a career as blessed as mine, it’s hard to look back and regret anything. Any regrets I might have would be so few and so insignificant compared to my blessings that they are hardly worth mentioning. So I don’t think I will.
Our Question Of The Month comes from Lori in Alabama: My husband and I love you and your music, but he lost his hearing 10-years ago. We watch Country’s Family Reunion and Larry’s Country Diner, and he likes to watch music videos. But none of your music videos are captioned. Could you maybe caption your videos so that he can enjoy them?
Nobody has ever brought that up to me before, and I appreciate it. My last two videos, “It’s A Good Day (To Have A Good Day)” and “Someday It’ll All Make Sense” with Dolly Parton, were both released in a lyric video format with the words to the songs printed on the screen. You might try checking those out on my website or on YouTube. And I’ll certainly stay aware of your request for any future videos I might put out. Thanks for the suggestion.
Quickies: Are you related to any Anderson’s in California or Washington? Not that I know of. A few of my Anderson kinfolks got as far west as east Texas, but that’s about it. Did you write “Peanuts & Diamonds?” It is right up there with “Golden Guitar” as my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard you sing. Well you picked two songs that I did not write! But I’m glad you like them. Bobby Braddock wrote “Peanuts & Diamonds.” Do you prefer to write by yourself or with others? I enjoy both and feel blessed to be able to do both. Do you have a favorite co-writer? If I did, I wouldn’t mention it here because I’d make all the other co-writers mad! And from England: Did you ever meet Ken Dodd? Yes, I did, and for our American friends, Ken is the British artist who popularized several of my songs in the UK, including “Still,” “8×10”, and “Happiness.” He came to see me once when I was performing ln Liverpool, and it was a great honor to meet him. He was an icon in your country long before he was dubbed Sir Ken Dodd. I treasure the memory of our shaking hands and sharing a few laughs. I am 86-years old and my DVD’s of Country’s Family Reunion are such a blessing. Will there ever be more? I’m glad you enjoy them, but right now I don’t see any new ones on the horizon. I try to never say “never,” but that’s the way it looks here in early 2023.
Thanks for another bunch of great questions. Like always, I have a few left over for next month, but don’t let that keep you from sending yours. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to respond to whatever is on your mind. Remember our Question Of The Month earns the sender a free copy of any merchandise item from our online store. See you back here in February.
The night of my final Opry appearance of 2022, Rhonda Vincent and I posed in front of the Grand Ole Opry wall backstage to wish our fans and friends a Merry Christmas. And I hope that what each and every one of you enjoyed! The second picture is of Peter Cooper and me together at the Hall of Fame two days after the opening of my “As Far As I Can See” exhibit in 2021. He interviewed me that day on stage in the Ford Theater, and wore his retro Atlanta Braves baseball cap in recognition of our both being longtime fans of the team. In the last picture, Charlie Monk and I were sharing a laugh inside the Sirius/XM radio theater the day he interviewed me regarding the release of my autobiography in 2016. A few days after Charlie passed away, Sirius re-aired that interview, and I remembered all over again what a special friend and talented man he was.