(CSC) 1. It is great to connect with you! How has the road been treating you after all these great years of constant touring?!?
Oh good. I love it! I love the road! I love to travel. I love to play my music more than anything. I really enjoy getting on stage with my band and playing for people, as you probably could tell at our shows. It’s something I really enjoy doing. It’s hard to imagine my life without it really.
(CSC) 2. You seem to have a pretty great amount of energy onstage, what is your secret to maintaining that stamina?
Well, you just try to take care of yourself. You try to save the best part of yourself for that day. God has blessed me with health so just save you for the show that night. I use to go out and play golf a lot when I was younger before a show date. I can’t do that anymore. I exercise and try to be at the top of my game for when we’re on stage at night. There’s no secret to it actually, it’s just something you enjoy and can put yourself into.
(CSC) 3. How have the various genres of music that you grew up listening to impacted your sound and style as an artist through the years?
I turned seventy-three years old this past October (2009) and I came from a time when there would be probably one radio station in town and there may not even be one radio station in town, unless you lived in a big town. You may even listen to the one in the next town but the thing was at that time back in the forties, they wrote the mandate, which is still to this day, is to serve the community. The radio stations have kept that very much to heart and that is to play all kinds of music for all kinds of people.
They’d play country music in the mornings when the farmers came in and when they figured they had an audience for it and in the mornings, they’d play some things for the stay-at-home housewives, and people that were homemakers. Then about the time the kids came home from school, they’d play whatever the popular music of the day was. When you’re from the southeast, you’re always exposed to Gospel and to the blues. So, I had quite a wide variety of music on my plate when I grew up.
I guess it was kind of natural for me when I got ready to write original music to just kind of spread it around a little bit, and do a little bit of everything. I had a lot of heroes growing up. Elvis Presley was a big hero of mine when he came along because he turned things upside down. I love bluegrass music. I like some of all kinds of music. I don’t like all of any of it. I mean I don’t want to listen to one kind of music all the time but I do love some elements of all of it.
If you looked on my iPod, you’d find anything from bluegrass to classical. I’ve got everything from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Ludwig Van Beethoven on my iPod. Whatever mood I happen to be in at the time is what I listen to. I may listen to somebody playing the blues. I like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Lawrence Welk. I don’t limit myself by peer pressure because everything’s cool if you like it! If you don’t like it, it’s not cool! I don’t form my musical opinions by the way somebody else or the crowd feels. I kind of go my own way there. There’s a whole world of music out there to be enjoyed. Why not enjoy some of all of it?
(CSC) 4. What initially prompted your interest in Western culture, horses, championship rodeo and Louis L'Amour novels?
When I was a kid in the rural towns in the south, every Saturday there was a cowboy movie on. I did not miss a Saturday that I don’t know anything about. There was Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Sunset Carson, Charles Starrett, Lash La Rue and all these cowboy heroes that I saw for free every Saturday. I just loved cowboys! A friend of mine introduced me to Louie L’Amour years and years ago. He had been reading him. I started reading Louie and of course Louie has about a hundred books out. It takes a long time to read all that material so I really got into him. Then I met him and I dedicated an album to him. I got to be friends with him for many years before he passed away. I love rodeo; it’s just kind of a natural offshoot of the big old western thing. It’s about as good as it gets. I raise horses. I raise cattle. I really have a great admiration for ranchers and cowboys and rodeo cowboys and that sort of thing.
(CSC) 5. Being a valuable part of the country music industry, what would you say is ONE notable trait that you feel you’ve left on the business and why?
Well, our music, that’s what we are. I have kids that come up to me sometimes that are new to the music business and they’ll say something like we’ve been listening to you for years, you were one of our favorites when we were growing up. There’s that kind of thing, kind of a CDB (Charlie Daniels Band) sound out there. Good bad or indifferent that’s our contribution to the music.
(CSC) 6. You played as a session guitarist for a few years in Nashville, what can you recall from being able to work with and witness Bob Dylan at his prime?
I was just a fan, and I still am a fan of Bob Dylan. It was such honor to me to get to be a part of making one of his records. It’s hard to explain. I did three albums with Bob. I did “Nashville Skyline,” “Self Portrait” and “New Mornings.” They were all different to one degree or another. There are so many facets to Bob Dylan and so many facets to his talent and to his style and to all the things that he does. I was always energized when I went into a demo session. I wanted to give it everything I’ve got. I wanted to do the very best I could. It was like you’re a part of history because Bob Dylan had one of the biggest effects on popular music in the world of anybody I could name. To be a part of that was a huge honor.
(CSC) 7. As a strong Christian, why is it important to you to incorporate your faith into all that you do musically?
Well, its part of what I am. Its part of my basic makeup and what I believe in and what is central to everything I’ve tried to string everything I do to my Christianity. I don’t always succeed. I mean I still mess up quite a bit. I like to be a Christian first and everything else second. That is THE big thing.
(CSC) 8. Even though our nation is facing tough times, we are very blessed to live here in America!! How would you suggest that those who are lost return to their faith if they have fallen to the wayside?
Well not just now but at any time, I mean that’s the one thing that doesn’t change. That’s the one thing that you can always depend on. It’s the only thing you can always depend on. You don’t know if the sun’s coming up tomorrow or if it’s going to be cloudy or whatever, you can give it your best guess but you know that God is going to be there. That’s never going to change. Jesus Christ is going to be there. You know it’s just the ultimate thing or should be the ultimate thing in everybody’s life. I would think, good times, bad times whatever, that the uncertainty regardless of how the times are and of course I know that affects people’s psyche, but regardless how the times are, there’s always uncertainty and always disappointment and things happening that are beyond our control but they’re not beyond God’s control. I would think that when people get beat up a little bit, they tend to turn toward the faith more and realize how important it is in their lives.
(CSC) 9. What have you enjoyed most about your many trips to visit and entertain for our troops overseas and how are they doing?
They’re doing great and they’ve done a good job. They have come a long way since the first time we went over there in winning that war. The reason it’s important to me is just to go over and say hey we’re here because we believe in what you’re doing. We believe in you. We thank you for what you’re doing. We want to say thanks for America. I usually open the show up by saying “I bring you greetings from the United States of America.” That’s what we’re doing we’re bringing them hopefully a little piece of home for a little while. Let them kind of forget what’s going on outside the wire and consider just having a good time for a little while.
(CSC) 10. What does your membership at the prestigious Grand Ole Opry mean to you and what are some of the highlights from your induction night?!?
It means everything to me. It’s something I really wanted with all my heart. I’m so glad it happened. I remember saying to the crowd “The Bible says God will give you desires of your heart.” I was standing on the stage and I looked up and I said “Tonight you seen that come true.” And it’s very true. It’s something I really wanted an awful lot. If it had to happen, I can’t even articulate what it means to me. It means an awful lot. We came in to town for that. We were out of town for vacation. We had people from all over. We had the guy that taught me to play guitar came over to stay with us. We had friends and family and people from all over the place. Of course, they had a reception for us. We went over and they had this huge big cake. It was a great, great night.
(CSC) 11. Moving forward, is there anything musically or personally that you’d like to accomplish next in your life?
There are a lot of things. There’s a lot of music that I actually haven’t gotten around to doing yet. I personally want to kill, kill an eight-point buck and catch a ten-pound large mouth bass! (Laughs)
(CSC) 12. Being a proud patriot, how has your life been affected by the historical events in our nation that have occurred during your lifetime?
I’ve just seen so much go on. I’ve seen things that were catastrophic, things that were good. I’ve seen a cure for Polio and Tuberculosis which was a huge problem back when I was a kid and just to see all those things come along is pretty mind boggling! It’s happening at expediential rate and its still happening at expediential rate. Things change so fast anymore, like we have integrated into the computer society so quick. I came from somebody who had two years of typing and no computer knowledge actually and don’t understand how it works or whatever but I’m able to sit down here in Florida and send notes to my office in Tennessee and that’s amazing to me. It’s kind of space-age stuff to somebody that came along. So, I‘ve lived in a very eventful time.