And welcome to our fan club newsletter for March….the month that starts in winter and ends in spring….giving us all something positive to look forward to!
I’ve been looking forward to this date myself because, aside from the weather, we’re finally getting to show the world our lyric video for the song I recorded with Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Bobby Bare, and Jimmy Fortune, “The Country I Grew Up With.”
As you might imagine, getting the five of us together at the same time for a “live” video would have been virtually impossible, so our team felt that a lyric video showcasing the words and portraying the many varied scenes we sing about in the song would be the next best thing. You can dial it up and watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN519wXlTu4,or at www.billanderson.com, or from almost any source where you view and download your videos. I’m pretty proud of it. Let me know how you like it.
The recording of this song was first released shortly before Christmas, and the record company felt like it may have “gotten lost” amidst the holiday music and other festivities, so they decided to carve out a “re-launch” this month. With the video release and a new push at radio, we’re all hoping the song will reach some ears now that may have missed out on hearing it late last year. The message of the song rings just as true now…if not more so…than ever.
Jimmy Fortune and I are going to perform the song live on the Grand Ole Opry Friday night March 8th. I hope lots of you will be listening. Our other Opry dates this month are March 12th, 16th, and 19th.
And speaking of the Opry, I mentioned in last month’s newsletter about the big doin’s March 16th when we mark the 50th Anniversary of the Opry House opening on that very date back in 1974. I told you that Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely, and I will be honored that night as the only three Opry cast members who were on the opening show who will also be on this special anniversary performance. What I didn’t know at that time was that the Opry plans to honor us with a fancy, sit-down dinner backstage prior to the curtain going up. The entire evening will be filled with music, memories, fun, and surprises. I’m really looking forward to it.
In addition to all the above, I have a couple of personal notes you might be interested in:
February 11th marked 33-years that James Freeze has been the bass player in my Po’ Folks Band. Prior to joining us, James had worked primarily in the field of southern gospel music, starting as a drummer when he was only 10-years old. He was out touring with some of the biggest artists in that field by the time he was 12. Musicians are not generally known for staying in the same job for anything close to 33-years, so this is quite a milestone. (Check out the picture of us onstage in our photo section). Thanks, James, for all you have meant to me and to this job and to our fans for all these years. Let’s shoot for 33-more!!
And my 15-year old granddaughter, Hallie, has signed up to participate in a songwriter’s camp this summer at the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has resumed guitar lessons, and is showing a lot of interest in not only being a big country music fan but in contributing to the music as well. Stay tuned.
And one final footnote: I am planning a trip to Chicago the latter part of this month to see my oldest granddaughter, Rae, play a large role in the Tony Award winning show, “The Band’s Visit.” She acts, sings, dances, and plays violin in the production. I’ll be the proudest PawPaw in the audience I can assure you.
Have a great rest of the month, enjoy the sunshine that is hopefully on its way, and I’ll plan to see you back here in April. Thanks for everything….
1) On Country’s Family Reunion were the guests told where to sit or did they just sit wherever they chose?
The producers told most of the guests where to sit. They wanted certain artists to be close to other artists because they knew they would interact well together…or perhaps they might want them to do a song together. From the very beginning, Larry Black envisioned me sitting next to Jeannie Seely because he felt our senses of humor would mesh, which they did, and that the two of us each had a deep knowledge of country music that we could share. And, of course, Gene Watson and Moe Bandy had to be close so they could hurl their insults back and forth at one another. Those were some fun times indeed.
2) I remember years ago going to the Opry and the performers were dressed in colorful western wear or country clothes. Today very few performers dress that way. In fact, we have gone to the Opry and been totally embarrassed. I called the Opry to voice my opinion, and their comment was, “We have no dress code and leave that up to the performers.” You always dress appropriately, and I wonder what your thoughts are about this.
When I first came into country music, I was taught by my heroes 1) to dress in a way that shows respect for the audience members who paid to come see you and 2) to wear something different from the guy sitting in the front row. I think we all have to dress in the manner that is comfortable for us. I’ve worn many types and styles of stage clothes over the years…some I am prouder of than others. I would never try to tell another performer what he or she should or shouldn’t wear on stage. I wear what I feel is appropriate for Bill Anderson and leave it at that.
3) Who decides who goes into the Country Music Hall of Fame?
It would take more time and space than I have here to go into all the details, but the basic answer is that a person’s peers and fellow artists generate the names that appear on the ballot. The winners are then chosen by the voting members of the Country Music Association.
4) Tell us again the story behind your getting back your lost Grammer guitar.
The short version is that the guitar had been missing for over 50-years when it turned up in a pawn shop in Phoenix, Arizona. The owner of the shop called my office and asked if I’d like to have it back. He and his wife flew to Nashville and presented it to me onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. It was one of the most special and touching moments of my life.
Our Question Of The Month comes from Arch in Ohio who asks: I heard Willie Nelson say that Patsy Cline’s recording of “Crazy” was his all-time favorite cover of any of his songs. Do you have a favorite cover of one of the songs you have written?
No, I don’t. How do you compare Ray Price’s version of “City Lights” with James Brown’s version of “Still?” Or Connie Smith’s “Once A Day” with Aretha Franklin’s, “I May Never Get To Heaven?” You can’t compare apples and oranges. Plus, I’ve said many times in these pages that I find it hard to have “favorite” anything’s. That holds true in the case of my having a favorite cover of a song I have written. I try to find something good in every recording that’s made of a song of mine…and be grateful to any artist who would stake part of his or her career on something that I helped to create.
Quickies: Are you planning on coming to Texas anytime soon? Nashville is so far away, and I would love to hear you sing. Thank you. If I were to be going anywhere to perform, I would love for it to be in Texas, but right now I’m staying close to home and only performing at the Opry. If that ever changes, our fan club members will be the first to know. I am from Canada, and one of my favorite Bill Anderson songs is, “Your Eyes Don’t Lie To Me.” Did you write it, and who is the girl singer who appeared in the video with you? No, I didn’t write the song. It was written by a great Canadian writer named Terry Carrise, and was originally recorded by a Canadian group called The Mercy Brothers. The girl in my video was Dona Cooper. Have you ever gone to a Super Bowl game? Yes, I’ve been to two, both in Miami. I saw the Cowboys lose to the Colts when they were the Baltimore Colts and I also saw the Cowboys lose to the Steelers. Dallas fans don’t want me going to any more Super Bowls! Would you please ask the engineers at the Opry to turn the sound down on the music. We can’t hear the singers the music is so loud. I told them, but they couldn’t hear me. The music was too loud!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Thanks for another good batch of questions this month. Just wish we had room for all of them. We’ll be open for business again next month, so stay curious and let me know what you’re curious about. Give us our Question Of The Month and you’ll win any item of your choosing from our online store absolutely free. You can always contact me at email@example.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.
There’s nothing better than good times, good music, and laughter with good friends. I don’t know what Jeannie Seely and I were so tickled about in this first picture, but it must have been something pretty good. I hope we shared whatever it was with the Opry audience.
And speaking of the Opry, our special family is proud to welcome T. Graham Brown as the newest member of our clan. As I am writing this, they have not announced his induction date, but it will be something to look forward to for sure.
In our third picture this month James Freeze, who just celebrated his 33rd anniversary as a member of our Po’ Folks Band, and I are singing, “I Wonder If God Likes Country Music,” onstage at the Opry. James reprises Roy Acuff’s part on this song and never fails to get a massive reception from the crowd. As I wrote in my letter, I’ll look forward to performing this and all our other songs with James for another 33-years. It’s been a blast so far!
I never got the chance to know Toby as well as I would have liked to, but I always enjoyed his company and certainly admired his talent. I wish I could have written a song or two with him…he was a great writer as well as a performer. This picture was taken in the hallway backstage at the Grand Ole Opry when he made one of his rare appearances there. He gave us a lot of good music and left us with a lot of good memories. May he rest in peace.