1) I recently watched a half-hour show on PBS called “The Songwriter,” which seemed fairly new, and featured you plugging your last book. It went very smoothly, and I wondered if the questions were submitted ahead of time. It seemed to be entirely spontaneous on your part.
No, there was nothing submitted ahead of time. And if someone had tried to tell me the questions beforehand, I would not have listened. The only true way to make something seem spontaneous is for it to BE spontaneous. I’m glad you enjoyed the show and hope you will be watching for other episodes. This is a very good series, sponsored in part by the Nashville Songwriters Association.
2) Did you ever write with Vern Gosdin? I have always loved his singing, and grew up not too far from his hometown.
No, I never got to write with Vern, but I was a big fan of his music. I’ve talked with others who did write with him, and they said he was a good writer and was fun to be around in a creative setting. I worked a few road shows with Vern, but never got to know him as well as I would have liked.
3) Jan Howard hasn’t been seen on the Opry in a couple of years. Is she still in good health? I’ve gone to her website and it’s years out of date. Can you please update?
I can’t speak to Jan’s health from a clinical perspective, but as an observer, I don’t think she is strong enough right now to go through the rigors of appearing onstage. I’ve been with her several times in group settings where we’d have dinner and laugh and tell old war stories, and her mind is very alert. However, she’s not as strong physically as she once was. We talk on the phone occasionally, and she can be just as “sassy” as ever…which I love. I know lots of you miss her performing on the Opry, and I do too. I’ll let her know you continue to ask about her.
How is Mike Johnson doing? I don’t hear any news on his battle with cancer.
Mike is doing well and is back appearing with Reba on her shows in Las Vegas. He plans to go on the CFR Cruise in January.
Have you written any songs with Terry McBride?
Yes, and he’s a great writer. We’ve just never gotten any of our collaborations recorded!
You have brought numerous artists to the spotlight. My question is who brought you to the spotlight?
No one person “discovered” me, but my help in the early days came from my first Nashville publisher, Buddy Killen, my record producer, Owen Bradley, and my first manager, Hubert Long.
Thanks for your questions, and keep ’em coming in the New Year. Send yours to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. Stay curious.