My longtime guitar player and band leader, Les Singer, and his wife, Lizzie, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on July 15th, and the next day hosted a get together of family and friends in their new hometown of Franklin, Kentucky. We ate some good food and laughed at a lot of old road stories. Next to me in the picture, left to right, are Lizzie, Les, and our former steel guitar player, Mike Johnson. Football season is almost upon us, and my alma mater, the University of Georgia Bulldogs are the defending national champions. Jeannie Seely gave me this picture of Uga, the Georgia mascot, and I’m encouraging him to lead the ‘Dawgs to another championship season. I hope he was listening! The bottom picture was taken the day we filmed our video for “Someday It’ll All Make Sense.” L. to R.: Danny Nozell, Dolly’s manager; Dolly; me; Trey Fanjoy, who produced and directed the video; and my manager, Lee Willard. What a special day it was!
I tried to talk the person who puts together our photo section into flipping this first picture over so that my birthday candles would read “58”, but he said he couldn’t do it. Besides, that would make my granddaughter, Sophie, “31” and that wouldn’t be fair. We shared our birthdays with each other once again, and as always it was special. It was also special to share the Ryman stage with the current Female Vocalist of the Year, Carly Pearce, a few days prior. Carly is a terrific singer, a super-nice young lady, and the perfect kind of person to help guide the Grand Ole Opry into and beyond its 100th birthday. As I told her onstage, she’s what the future of country music is all about. Our third picture shows three guys who have each had some big nights over the years, and Steve Wariner’s induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was one of his biggest. I was the one who got to hand him his Manny Award after Garth stilled the crowd with his rendition of Steve’s “Holes In The Floor Of Heaven.” Later, as you can see, we were all smiles backstage.
There’s nothing like a good late summer vacation to get a guy ready for fall, and you can tell from the first picture here that I was taking advantage of my time away last month. There was an ocean nearby (a week before Ian came calling, thankfully) sandy beaches for sitting (and walking occasionally), and too many good restaurants to mention. I came home refreshed and ready to pick up a big ol’ heavy pencil and get back to writing songs. The second picture shows me and my dear friend and co-worker, Terry Choate, taken one of the last times I appeared on Larry’s Country Diner. Terry was a production assistant on that show as well as on Country’s Family Reunion, and we worked together closely for well over 30-years. Terry believed in me as a songwriter even when I stopped writing back in the 80’s, and he encouraged me to start writing again by producing new demos on some of my old songs. One of those demos was “The Tips Of My Fingers,” which led to Steve Wariner’s 1992 #1 recording of a song I had written in 1960. Terry passed away last month, and I can’t help but remember what a great guy he was and what an impact he had on my life and my career. Rest in peace, my friend, and thanks for the memories. The third picture here was taken when I visited my friends at “Coffee, Country, & Cody” recently to talk about my duet with Dolly. The show, heard on WSM Radio and seen on Circle TV, originates from the Opryland Hotel where my granddaughter, Caroline, works in hospitality. She snuck away from her desk long enough to come hang out with PawPaw and the gang…but don’t tell her boss. L. to R. announcer, Charlie Mattos, yours truly, Caroline, co-host Kelly Sutton, and Bill Cody.
I had the chance to visit with my grandson, Gabe, on his 18th birthday last month, and you can see here in this picture that we were both all smiles. All he wanted was the latest Lego sets, and as you can tell, he got his wish. He has loved putting together Lego ever since he was a little boy, and he doesn’t show any signs of outgrowing that love whatsoever. All these sets should keep him busy for awhile. In the second picture, I am kneeling on the Opry stage to pose with Joseph Kelley, a longtime fan from Alabama. Joseph had seen me back in 1968 when he was 14-years old, and we’d had a picture taken together. Unfortunately, that picture was destroyed in the film developing process, and this was the first time he had seen me since. I decided we needed to replace his picture, so I paused the Opry show to pose and visit with him. It was a special moment for us both. And speaking of special moments, it’s always special when I get to be alongside two of my best buddies, Buddy Cannon (left) and Bobby Tomberlin. This black and white picture was taken following our recent songwriter’s round at the Bluebird Cafe. It had been a fun night with a packed house and lots of music and tall tales. One or two of the stories were even true!