1) I recently found an RCA record by Don Bowman with a parody of your song, “Still.” It says it’s from an album called “Whispering Country.” Can you provide any information about this record?
Don Bowman was the comedian on my syndicated television show from the late sixties into the early seventies, and he loved to tease and pick on me. He, in fact, was the first person to ever refer to me as “Whisperin’ Bill.” He came up with the concept of doing an entire album of parodies on my songs, “Still” being one of them. The album was called “Whispering Country,” and the cover photo showed Don standing over a table of my albums about to chop them to pieces with a meat cleaver. He “butchered” my songs all right, but in a funny and creative way. Don had a tremendous sense of humor and was a dear and valued friend.
2) Why are your CDs and other merchandise not shipped to the UK?
We used to ship our merchandise all over the world, but in recent years international shipping has become not only very expensive but very complicated. As you might expect, there are different rates, rules, and regulations for shipping to each country. We are not a large enough company to afford a computer program sophisticated enough to figure all the various international costs. However, if any of our overseas fans would like to order a specific item and have it shipped to you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the cost of shipping to your particular address. She will manually figure the cost for you, and if you have a Pay Pal account you’ll be able to order. Sorry….I wish it were easier, but like so many things these days, it simply is not.
3) Recently we were watching the Country’s Family Reunion DVD where Jan Howard read her poem about her thoughts on growing older. Do you know of any way to get a copy of that? Yes…you have come to the right place. A man named Ron Harmon is the administrator of Jan’s website, and a free printed copy of Jan’s poem, entitled “Aging”, is available through him. The e-copies are free, and you can request one by e-mailing Ron at JanHowardWebsite@comcast.net. For those of you who might like a hard copy via snail mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Ron Harmon, 101 Cottage Place, Nashville, TN. 37214, and he will send you one by return mail.
Our Question Of The Month comes from Byron in Ohio: When I was at the Opry last year, Don Schlitz was on and did a great job. I noticed that he had a notebook on a music stand which I assume contained the lyrics to his songs. He glanced at it ever so often. My thought was that he has written so many songs that it was hard for him to remember the lyrics. I know you have also written hundreds of songs, and I wonder if you remember the words to every song that you’ve written? At times do you have to refer to a “cheat sheet” if you’re singing a song you haven’t done in a while?
I don’t know anyone who remembers the words to all of their songs. People say, “You wrote it…you should remember it,” but that’s not always the case. I forget the words sometimes, and not just to songs I haven’t done in a while. Not long ago I stood on the Opry stage and couldn’t for the life of me remember second verse of “Wherever She Is,” a song I do quite often on the show. One of the background singers finally had to clue me in. I don’t have a notebook like Don, but I will occasionally ask the Opry staff to put the lyrics to one of my songs on the teleprompter. And there have been other times where I’ve simply re-written the song as I sang it. I laugh and tell the audience, “Well, I wrote it the first time, I guess I can write it again if I want to!”
Quickies: Do you have any news on Helen Cornelius? I know she has had a few health challenges and is basically retired. I would love to hear that she is doing well. We would like to hear that, too, but unfortunately I’m afraid that’s not the case. We all need to keep Helen in our thoughts and prayers. I see you are performing frequently at the Opry. Do you have plans to go back on the road anytime soon? I try to never say never, but I really don’t. With my songwriting, recording, Opry appearances, and the time I enjoy spending with my friends and family, climbing back on a tour bus right now is not high on my list of priorities. I miss the shows and miss being with the fans, but it’s awfully nice to sleep in my own bed every night. My favorite gospel group has always been the Happy Goodman Family. I know your former steel guitar player, Jack Smith, was at one time married to Howard and Vestal Goodman’s daughter. I am curious as to what years he played with you. My memory is not good enough to remember the exact dates, but Jack came with me somewhere in the mid-seventies and stayed until the early eighties. He left Nashville a few years ago and sadly was killed in a car wreck in Arizona not long afterward.
Thanks again for your questions this month, although I didn’t receive as many as I usually do. Don’t be shy…if you have something to do with me or country music that you’d like to know about, write me at email@example.com and I’ll try to satisfy your curiosity. If yours is chosen our Question Of The Month you’ll win any item of your choice from our online store absolutely free. See you back here again next month.