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….