Forgive me, but I was so busy yesterday eating cake, opening birthday cards, and fielding e-mails, texts, and phone calls that I simply did not have time to get our November newsletter out on time. Thanks to each of you who sent me birthday greetings in whatever format you chose….over 4,000 messages on Facebook alone! You have a way of making my getting older not nearly as traumatic as it might be otherwise.
I had a great birthday with family and friends, and I’m ready to rock ‘n roll (in a country way, of course) into the month that lies ahead. It promises to be a good one.
On November 5th, I will spend an hour visiting with my friend, Clint Black, on his Circle Network TV show, “Talking In Circles.” I hope lots of you will tune us in. On the 8th, I plan to attend the BMI Songwriter Awards Dinner for the first time since Covid, and the next night I’m taking my 14-year old granddaughter, Hallie, to her first CMA Awards. She loves country music more than any of my grandkids, and she’s over-the-top excited about getting to go to the show. She’s even going to walk the red carpet with me beforehand. I’ve overheard her saying more than once, “This is going to be the best day of my life!” I hope it is.
October was a busy month in Whisperville. I was voted Songwriter of the Year by the members of ROPE, and I appreciated that honor very much. I joined my fellow songwriter, Steve Dorff, for a night of music and fun onstage at the City Winery October 4th, and throughout the month performed five shows at the Grand Ole Opry. On the 16th, I attended the Medallion Ceremony at the Hall of Fame where I was invited to close the show by leading the crowd in singing, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” I appeared as a surprise guest on new Opry member, Carly Pearce’s sold-out show at the Ryman on the 26th, and I got to induct my buddy, Steve Wariner, into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on the 30th. I said it was a busy month, and it was.
I lost some special friends last month, too, with the passing of Loretta Lynn, Jody Miller, Anita Kerr, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I talk about my relationship with Loretta in our Ask Bill column later on, but I enjoyed great friendships with the others as well. Jody and I rode together in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade back in the early 70’s (and nearly froze), plus we co-hosted the TV show, “Country Standard Time,” once or twice on TNN. Anita Kerr’s fabulous singers were the warm, inviting background voices on my recordings of both “Mama Sang A Song,” and “Still,” and played a large role in many of my early recording successes. All three ladies were amazing talents and will certainly be missed.
Jerry Lee and I went back farther than most of you might know. When I was still a disc jockey in Georgia in the late fifties, and Jerry Lee’s career was just shifting into high gear, I booked him to perform at an outdoor skating rink in the small town of Winder. He performed all right…an afternoon concert, an evening concert, and in between he and his band members put on what may have been the best show of all when they strapped on roller skates, and made like Roller Derby contestants across the hardwoods. If you thought Jerry Lee was wild on the piano, you should have seen him on skates! In later years, I toured with him on many occasions, and he recorded at least two of my songs, “City Lights,” and “When Two Worlds Collide.” Suffice it to say, we will probably never see another one quite like “The Killer.”
This Month In Whistory: I was reading through my letter to you from the fall of 2007 after Buddy Cannon, Jamey Johnson, and I had just won the Academy of Country Music’s award for writing the Song of the Year, “Give It Away.” I wrote: “They say what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, but my trophy didn’t. It sits proudly inside a case in my house, and hopefully it’s not going anywhere.” I never dreamed at that point the trophy would sit today inside a Bill Anderson Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Thanks for continuing to make so many of my dreams come true by being the best bunch of friends and fans a guy could have. I wish for you and yours a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you back here in December.