1) In your many years of sharing your music with us, what is the most distant location from home that you have performed?
I should probably go check my grandson’s world globe, but off the top of my head I would say probably Perth, Australia. I was there working aboard a cruise ship in the late nineties. Norway and Sweden, where I went in 1970 with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, would probably be second. I have been to the Far East, but never performed there.
2) When writing a new song, do you write the lyrics first or the melody? Also, listening to your earlier songs, I find that the length of most is under three minutes. Now, a lot of your songs are much longer. Is there a reason for this change?
I have always written most of my songs from a lyrical idea, so typically I start with the words. Some of my co-writers like to start with a melody or a rhythmic pattern, though, so I will sometimes defer to them. In my early days in Nashville, producers felt as though songs should be under three minutes in length in order to maximize their air play on the radio. In other words, disc jockies wanted shorter songs so they could get more commercials into their shows. This began to change during the ten years I was away from songwriting, and when I came back, I had to learn to not try and condense my songs so much. I think in this area, as in many areas of our business, country music was influenced by pop. Their songs were longer, so naturally ours had to become longer too.
3) I love all the music you write and sing, but the best song is “Where Have All Our Heroes Gone.” Please sing this song more because our country needs to hear it now.
Thank you. I hear this comment often, but in 2014 I feel that the words I wrote in 1970 are outdated. The concept of the song….the fact that our society could use more people worth admiring and looking up to…is still very valid, but I think the idea would have to be presented in a different way in order to connect with audiences today. I have tried re-writing the song several times over the years, but so far I haven’t been able to make it work. Thanks for your interest, though, and for taking the time to write.
I appreciate ALL your questions, and I hope you’ll continue sending them to us. Write firstname.lastname@example.org or send your questions to me at P. O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. See you back here next month.