You don’t know how glad I am to finally be able to say, “Happy New Year!”
I’m like many of you….I didn’t stay up on New Years Eve to welcome in the new year as much as I did to make sure the old one was gone! 2020 was not exactly the best of times for any of us. Hopefully with the turning of the page, the light at the end of the tunnel will soon begin shining on us all.
I hope Christmas was a merry one at your house and that Santa didn’t have any trouble fitting inside your chimney. In keeping with the craziness that was 2020, Christmas Day in Music City was not exactly the day of peace and love that we had all hoped to celebrate what with the senseless bombing downtown. The day that began with a few stray snowflakes and the promise of a white Christmas soon faded into something far less serene. Many of you messaged me with words of concern for me and my family, and I appreciated that very much. Fortunately, all of us live on the outskirts and a good distance away from where the explosion took place.
I tried to stay safe over the holidays, seeing very little of my family and friends and staying outdoors with my mask on when I did. My holiday highlight came when six of my eight grandchildren came over to bring me the picture you’ll see in our photo section. It had been eight years since there had been a picture of all of them together, and kids change a lot in that amount of time. We gathered on my front porch with a bunch of happy smiles behind our masks and elbow bumps instead of the hugs we were dying to give. As George Jones sang in an old song, “Maybe Next Christmas.”
I thank you for all the beautiful Christmas cards, text messages, and greetings of the season that you sent my way. I read and appreciated every single one. Quoting country music again, my friend Mac Wiseman said it best when he sang, “Tis Sweet To Be Remembered.”
What’s happening on the musical front in Whisperville? Not a lot other than the release of our new lyric video for “It’s A Good Day To Have A Good Day” coming soon. We will have two videos on that song then, and I hope you will check them out at www.billanderson.com and/or on YouTube and share them with your friends. When the new one is released, hopefully later this month, you can watch your screen and sing the words right along with us. Maybe it will put some warm smiles on some chilly faces during these cold winter days.
People are asking me when we are going back on tour and when we will be performing again at the Opry, and my answer to both questions is simple and the same: I don’t know. I plan to get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible, listen to the experts, and decide from there.
I hope to get back into the recording studio sometime soon because I have several new songs I’m anxious to put down. I’d love to release a new album in 2021. I have some additional songs I’ve written (or helped to write) waiting to be cut by some of my friends, and hopefully I can share some news on those before too long as well.
From the personal corner of my world, my oldest granddaughter, Rae, and her fiance, Zach, have set their wedding day. They will be getting married on Saturday August 28th here in Nashville. I’m sure I’ll have many more details to share as the time approaches.
And speaking of family, I’d like to ask you to check out the latest Bill’s Journal on our website. The new edition is a letter from my daughter-in-law, Beth, with information regarding my grandson, Gabe, and a major decision that has been made in treating the cancer he has been fighting for ten years. So many of you have prayerfully been in this fight alongside us, and we wanted you to know the latest. The next few months are going to be very intense for our family, and we’re going to need your prayers and your support and understanding more than ever. Please check out Bill’s Journal and share it with your family and friends.
Meantime, stay well and stay safe. The page on the calendar may say it’s a new year, but we’re not out of the woods yet. This virus is a mean ol’ animal with a lot of life left in it. Please continue to respect it.
Thanks a BILLion for your many kindnesses to me, and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here again next month.
1) I am curious…are you the current longest running member of the Grand Ole Opry?
No, there are probably several Opry members who can run longer than I can. Oh, wait….you mean have I been at the Opry the longest, right? No, Stonewall Jackson joined the show in the late fifties, and I didn’t come along until 1961. There are no living members who joined between Stonewall and me, though, so next to him I’ve been around the longest. Hopefully, I’ll get to celebrate being a 60-year member in 2021.
2) Did you ever get interviewed by Ken Burns for the video, “Country Music?” With your standing in the music business I can’t see how they didn’t.
You must not have watched the show because I’m all over it. Episode #4, which focuses on artists and music from the sixties, features me the most.
3) What can we do about the fact that Country’s Family Reunion is not on the air anymore? Is there a petition we can sign? How do we contact RFD?
This was my most-asked question this month, and I wish I knew the answer. I don’t know of a petition you could sign, but you can write to RFD-TV at 49 Music Square W., Nashville, TN. 37203. I’m not sure it would do any good, however, as the decision was a joint one between Larry Black’s production company, Gabriel Communications, and the network. Larry made his money from CFR on the sales of the DVD sets, but now with streaming and all kinds of free music and online video services, the DVD’s don’t sell much anymore. The shows are very costly to produce, and it finally reached the point where somebody had to pull the plug. The shows were a big part of my life for 23-years. Thankfully, you can still access them on Country Road TV.
Quickies: What song took you the longest to write? Believe it or not, “Peel Me A ‘Nanner” took over three years to finish. I couldn’t figure how to match verses to the silly little chorus that I wrote in about five minutes. How can I share a subject that you could be inspired to turn into a song? As with all songwriting questions, I suggest you reach out to the Nashville Songwriters Association, International, at www.nashvillesongwriters.com. They have some amazing programs for aspiring songwriters. Will there be or was there a tribute for Jan Howard? Jeff Hoag, the outstanding new nighttime announcer on AM650 WSM, did a marvelous radio tribute to Jan not long after she passed. I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine that show is still available in the WSM archives. Mandy Barnett recently honored Jan by singing “Evil On Your Mind” on the televised Grand Ole Opry. I collect country music DVD’s, but I do not have any of Bill Anderson. Have you ever done any DVD’s and, if not, why? I assume you mean full-concert DVD’s, and I have done only one. That was on the occasion of my 40th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member back in 2001. It was titled, “Bill Anderson – 40 Years Of Hits LIVE.” It was released by Varese-Sarabande Records in California, but my guess is that it is probably out of print.
Thanks for getting the New Year off to a good start with your questions. I’ve about exhausted all the ones in my files from 2020, though, so send me some new ones. You can write to me at email@example.com or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. Fill up my mailbox, and we’ll see you back here next time.
You can’t see the smile behind my mask, but believe me there was a big ol’ grin on my face when my grandkids presented me with the picture I’m holding a few days before Christmas. It was the first time they had all gotten together for a picture in eight years, and it’s a great shot of all eight of them. I treasure it. And I treasure the memories of Jan Howard and Charley Pride, both of whom we lost last year. This picture of the three of us was taken backstage at the Opry in 2012. The bottom picture shows the bass player in our Po’ Folks Band, James Freeze, modeling his “Good Day To Have A Good Day” t-shirt. If you haven’t added one of our “Good Day” items to your collection, I invite you to check them all out in the SHOP section of our website. Thanks…and have a “good day!”
My journal this time is not something I have written, but rather a letter from my daughter-in-law, Beth, in which she shares with you the latest news regarding her family and, in particular, her son, Gabe, and his ongoing battle with cancer.
It took a lot for Beth to open up her heart the way she did in this letter and bring you inside our family circle during what promises to be a very hopeful yet stressful time. We are facing some anxious days, but we are optimistic that the outcome will more than justify the anxiety and the fear. Thank you for taking the time to read this…and thanks in advance for your help and your prayers which I know will be forthcoming.
She begins her letter by addressing everyone as “Team Gabe.”
10 Years!!! This month marks ten years since our sweet boy was diagnosed with cancer. Ten years of treatments, ten years of ups and downs, and too many surgeries and trips to the hospital to count. It was very important to Jamey and me when Gabe was diagnosed to be intentional about sharing what we thought was essential for prayer and support, while trying to not be “the cancer family.” We have tried to be as “normal” as we could and treat life as “normal” as we could. We now feel that we have no choice but to share more details about what is going on with Gabe and the coming months. After seeing all of the specialists at multiple hospitals across the country, and trying countless chemo treatments and therapies, we have run out of things to try and put Gabe’s cancer into remission. Our Amazing doctors and nurses have been able to treat Gabe’s cancer and maintain it from spreading, but nothing has ever been able to put it into remission or cure it.
When I say that many prayers have gone into our next steps, that would be an understatement. After consulting our doctors, nurses, our pastor, therapists, and lots of prayer, we have decided to go “all in” and do a bone marrow transplant. Gabe ultimately made the decision and we are so thankful for his maturity and growth in the Lord to come to this decision. This is Huge and we do not take these next steps lightly. The first prayer that was answered was finding a perfect match for Gabe. The Lord was faithful in answering our request and his sister, Hallie, is his Perfect match!! For those of you that don’t know, this is not usually the case and a perfect sibling match is the best case scenario for the transplant to be successful.
We are planning on starting the transplant in March of 2021. We are just a few months away from that and are already planning our next steps. We are having to be extra careful and vigilant to keep our family safe during this awful pandemic. This past week we moved Sophie out of in person school and completely online. Gabe is already online and we are being even more strict with where we are going and who we are with. All this to say, please don’t be offended when we hang back from crowds, don’t give hugs, and aren’t comfortable talking with you if you aren’t wearing a mask. Our kids aren’t allowed to do much of anything outside of school and limited activities.
The verse that we have always clung to for Gabe through the years has been Joshua 1:9.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The Lord has been so faithful and Gabe has been so brave through everything he has been through, and now Hallie is too. She is not only pleased that she is the match, she is willing and anxious to try and help Gabe. We are so grateful for her spirit and attitude with this. What a gift!!
This will be a huge transition for our family as Hallie will be having a painful surgery, and Gabe and I will be in the hospital away from family anywhere from 5-8 weeks. We are making new Team Gabe shirts that will be coming out in January for order!! Jamey and I felt like we needed to let people in and keep you updated so you know how to pray for us. You can follow our page at https://facebook.com/Team-Gabe-102255765085555/ for updates throughout the process. Please feel free to share with family and friends so that they can pray for us as well.
Thank you for loving us so well the past ten years and continuing to support us through your love, support, and prayers. We appreciate it more than you know! Hopefully this time next year there will be no more virus and No More Cancer!!
If you would like to join Team Gabe and help support Beth and Jamey in their struggle, I hope you’ll start by wearing one of the shirts they have had made and by keeping all of us in your thoughts and prayers throughout these next few months. We are being presented with a great opportunity here, but we also understand that we could well be facing a long and bumpy ride.
Thanks so much…and God bless.