Friday, May 23, 2008

Daniels Says He Still Has Much to Do in Music

From Redorbit

Daniels Says He Still Has Much to Do in Music
Posted on: Friday, 23 May 2008, 15:00 CDT

By Nathalie Baret For the Journal

"People ask me what fires me up after all these years," Charlie Daniels said in a phone interview from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "I tell them I sincerely love doing what I do for a living. It's exhilarating to me. It's in my blood. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

At 72, Daniels seems remarkably at peace. With 50 years of being in the music business, his checklist includes scoring hits like "Uneasy Rider" and the unforgettable "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," earning gold and platinum records that he keeps tucked away in his basement, and a trophy case full of Grammy, Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music and Gospel Music Association awards that are on display in his very own downtown Nashville museum.

There's more: Add two books he's written, one of essays, the other of short stories, and a third that credits him as editor on "Growing Up Country," a book of dissertations by musicians, celebrities and Southern politicians. He's the voice behind the "Road Dog" truckers channel on Sirius Satellite radio, he's listed in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and for those who didn't know, he recorded a children's album titled "By the Light of the Moon: Campfire Songs and Cowboy Tunes."

Are there more hills to climb?

"Sure," said Daniels. "I'd love to do something with B.B. King. I'm a big blues fan of his work. But I'm still working on my first hill -- I want every album to go platinum and every show sold out. I haven't got to that yet, but it's on my wish list."

The legendary entertainer may have some wishes left to fulfill, but on the flip side, he's been blessed with some unexpected, stellar career highlights. His most recent addition was on Jan. 19, when his lifelong dream came true.

During last year's "Christmas for Kids" show, an annual benefit that Daniels hosts to raise money for underprivileged children "so that kids can get on buses and go to large retail areas and go shopping," the singer/ songwriter received a sweet surprise from country star Martina McBride.

"Martina comes out during the show and announces, 'Thanks for doing these shows. Now it's time to make a wish come true for you, too,' " he said. "To be honest, I had no idea what was going on until she actually said that I was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I was at a loss for words, which isn't an ordinary state of affairs for me because I'm very seldom like that. But I was that night. I've seen the tape of it, how I reacted at the time, and it was like this unconscious, 'Wow!' "

The fleet-fingered guitarist and fiddle player has had several more surprises surface during the last five decades. One timeless moment includes "It Hurts Me," a song he co-wrote that was picked in 1964 to be the B side of a record by one of his all-time heroes.

"I didn't know Elvis Presley was going to use it," Daniels said. "I grew up cutting my teeth on WSM, a 50,000-watt radio station out of Nashville that played his music and aired the Opry shows. I was a big fan of his. So when a friend of mine and I wrote that song and submitted it, we really had no idea he was going to record it."

Spurred by the success of that track, Daniels moved to middle Tennessee to do session work. His guitar playing, which to some producers was considered too loud, appealed to Bob Dylan, who welcomed Daniels' eclectic, independent style and hired him to play on three of his LPs: "Nashville Skyline,""New Morning" and "Self Portrait."


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Q&A: For Daniels, There's always another record to cut | Entertainment | Music | Reuters

Q&A: For Daniels, There's always another record to cut Entertainment Music Reuters

By Deborah Evans Price
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - At 71 years old, Charlie Daniels still sets a blistering pace few can match. Whether touring, authoring a book or recording an album, he approaches each project with a sense of creative vision and passion that remains undimmed after 50 years in the industry.
One of the most versatile and prolific artists in American music, Daniels has released 50 albums, 17 of those just since launching his own Blue Hat label a decade ago. Reflecting the broad scope of his artistry, those projects have encompassed a variety of genres, from the blues of 1997's "Blues Hat" to the bluegrass gospel of 2005's "Songs of the Longleaf Pines" to the rockin' country represented on two 2007 releases, "Live From Iraq" and the duet project "Deuces."
Daniels has always had a gift for forging a sense of community and bringing together artists from all musical styles. Whether welcoming an eclectic lineup to the stage during one of his famed Volunteer Jam concerts or mentoring some of today's young country acts during the making of "Deuces," Daniels has always encouraged others to defy boundaries and just create great music.
Q: When you started, did you think you'd still love playing music this much 50 years later?
Charlie Daniels: "I had no idea. You do one day at a time. People ask me what would I have done if I had not been a musician. I'm not a 'What if?' thinker. It's been a long road and a good road and a tough road. I've learned a lot of lessons in the many years that I've been doing this that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else.
"I've learned about adversity. When everyone else gets tired and disgusted, that's when you have to go for it. If you don't have it in your heart to do it that way, you should have never taken the first step."
Q: What did your parents think of your decision to be a musician?
Daniels: "My dad wanted me to go to college and get a degree in forestry because he was a timber man. But I didn't carry that gene or whatever it is to have the same love for it that he had.
"I can see my parents being very frustrated when I first started trying to play music because music was thought of very much as a hobby. There were horror stories about people trying to make a living playing music and how their families would suffer. My parents had apprehensions about me getting into this business, but once I started, it was all I wanted to do. I had no desire to do anything else."
Q: Your first radio hit was "Uneasy Rider" in 1973. It could easily have been pegged as a novelty hit, and that tag could have tainted your career. How did you overcome that?
Daniels: "I just refused to be pushed into that category. I did other records and did what needed to be done to overcome it. It's like, 'Gosh, here we are. We've got a hit record!' It's a blessing, but you've got to break out of that mold. By no means was that close to what (the Charlie Daniels Band) was all about when you hear 'Uneasy Rider.' You've just got to stay with it until the world realizes, 'Hey, they are serious. They are capable of doing more than that."'
Q: What was it like recording with Bob Dylan on "Nashville Skyline?"
Daniels: "I am not a great session player. I don't play other people's music as well. What goes into being a good session player is doing somebody else's idea of what a song should be. I'm so much better off doing my stuff and doing what I do other than trying to interpret other people's music, unless it's the kind of thing like Dylan did.
"Dylan was like, 'Hey, let's go in and make a record. I want you to play like you do and we'll be the Bob Dylan Band and do a Bob Dylan record.' That gives you a certain amount of freedom that you don't experience in a lot of places. That's why I did so well on the Dylan stuff."
Q: When you held the first Volunteer Jam in 1974, did you have any idea it would become such a long-running and successful event?
Daniels: "I had no idea. It was supposed to be a one-time thing. It was a live recording session. Sometimes things take (on) a life of their own. The name Volunteer Jam was a natural. All the elements fell together.
"The first year was an incredible musical event. It sold out. Lots of people didn't get to come to it and lots of people heard about it. People wondered: 'What's a Volunteer Jam? What's this thing everybody's talking about?' It became very obvious that this was something that we should do again, and we did. That first night was like magic. Here we are talking about it 30 years or so after."
Q: Some people, including Wyclef Jean, credit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with being one of the pioneering rap songs. Do you think of it that way?
Daniels: "That goes way back to an old form of music called 'talking blues' that had been around forever. Instead of singing the lyrics, people talk them. I've been hearing it all my life. There was a guy, Robert Lunn, on the Grand Ole Opry that used to do that. He would be using some comedy sort of thing, something he'd sing, and there was a little punch line involved. It's an old form of music.'
Q: In recording your new duets album, "Deuces," how did you determine who would record each song?
Daniels: "It was a mutual consent. It was a song that we both liked. Darius Rucker is a big Bob Dylan fan and ('Like a Rolling Stone') was a good tune for us to do, and Vince (Gill) loved the one we did ('The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'). I could not 100 percent read what somebody likes to do by any means, but I'm pretty good at picking a song that would be compatible for both people and most of the time it worked out.
"Dolly (Parton) wanted to do something she wrote, which is a standard policy with her. She's constantly being asked to do something, but like she says, if she took everything that came down the pike, she'd be going all the time. So what she does is she wants to sing a song that she wrote, which I have no problem with. She's a great writer. We did 'Daddy's Old Fiddle.' You just kind of go along and find something that works for everybody."
Q: What keeps you out there still making music?
Daniels: "I love what I do. People say, 'Why don't you retire?' For what? I'm doing what I want to do. You're supposed to retire to do something you want to do and I'm doing what I want to do. So it would be kind of silly for me to retire.
"I love my fellow musicians. I love being able to get up in the morning and think, 'I'm going to do something today that I thoroughly enjoy.' I'm thankful to God (for) all of these years that I have been able to make a living at something that I enjoy so very much."
Q: What goals do you have left?
Daniels: "There's always something to do. There's always another record to cut. There's constantly something. You never run out of things to do or things to accomplish. You're just never going to do that. There's always another cluster of notes to put together to make a song out of it."


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Charlie Daniels Comments on Pop Country Music

Charlie Daniels: One of a kind
By Roy E. Deering
ADA – For the past 50 years, Charlie Daniels has made a lot of music, made his share of money, and had an awful lot of fun. Friday night, the 70-year-old country music legend will bring his unique style of entertainment to the Robert S. Kerr Activities Center on the campus of East Central University for a concert that will benefit the school's growing Communications Department.

Joining Daniels on stage Friday for the 8 p.m. show will be Oklahoma native Bennin Hunt.

Daniels will honor members of a local national guard unit who have been invited to attend the concert as guests of local businesses and community organizations. Although Daniels is being paid to perform, he said the chance to meet the local guardsmen will be his honor.

"For me to have the chance in person to thank these men and women for their sacrifice and for their willingness to carry the torch of freedom is a tremendous privilege," Daniels told the Ada Evening News in a telephone interview last week.

"I have the utmost respect for the men and women who fight for freedom. I've been to Iraq twice and I have always been a tremendous supporter of our armed forces. To me, it's sickening when you hear some of the national media people trying to discredit and dishonor them these days."

Known for such classic rockin’ country songs as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," and "Long Haired Country Boy," the outspoken Daniels said he'll bring a high-energy family show to Pontotoc County Friday night."

First, it's a family show," Daniels said. "I have always tried hard to provide a show that's suitable for all ages. Second, we will play the songs people want to hear – like 'The Devil' and 'Long Haired Country Boy', because it makes me angry when I go to a concert and the performer sings one or two songs you know, and then spends an hour trying to sell you his new album.”

Winner of two Grammy Awards and numerous Grammy nominations, Daniels has recorded nearly 50 albums in his five decades in country music. Know for his high-energy fiddle playing and back woods, simple messages, Daniels said it was hard for him to comprehend that he was now in his 70s.

"I don't know how long I'll keep playing," Daniels said. "All I know is that I have no plans for retirement. I can't even stand the word. As long as the Good Lord gives me the ability and the desire to keep getting up on stage, I'd rather be there than anywhere else in this world."

Known for his trademark white beard and white felt cowboy hat, Daniels has been a fixture on country – and even rock – radio stations for more than 40 years.

His biggest hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," has been covered by numerous artists over the years. One of those covers was a rap version, one Daniels found "entertaining," but not quite his "cup of tea."

A rebel in life and in music, Daniels said his proudest accomplishment in music is that he has stayed true to himself and has not allowed his music to be controlled by recording executives.

"I love the fact that country music is the fastest growing music out there right now," Daniels said. "But I absolutely hate that all the singers look and sound the same.”

"It's like the record companies use the same little cookie cutter and give them all the same sound, the same look and the same songs. There's no one unique out there any more."

Yes, there is. And his name is Charlie Daniels.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

CD opines on God, politics and Bob Dylan

Busted: Charlie Daniels

The country music legend opines on God, politics and Bob Dylan

Interview by Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP

He's a born again Christian who made his name in the 1970s with a song about the devil. He's also a "Long Haired Country Boy" who is fiercely patriotic. Charlie Daniels' 40-plus year career has never been short on contradictions so it came as no surprise that the Grammy-winning perfomer also wasn't short on opinions either.

Daniels recently sat down for an interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer during Fr. Dave's daily "BustedHalo Show" on Sirius Satellite radio.

BustedHalo: Now I know the tradition you were raised in was not Catholic, but you’ve got an experience of Catholicism.

Charlie Daniels: Yes, I do and it was a very special experience, and it was Easter a year ago. We had gone to Iraq to entertain the troops and we were there Easter Sunday and inside the wire at Talil airbase is the ancient city of Ur. Where Abraham is from. There’s a pagan temple there that’s like four thousand years old. Within the city, or course when Saddam Hussein was in power, nobody could go in. I think it was an English archeologist who had gone in there before Saddam had taken over and located, as best they could, the house of Abraham and they had restored the foundation. In other words, you could tell how big it was, how many rooms it had and everything. But a chaplain took us around over there on a Saturday afternoon and I found out that we were going to have a Catholic Easter sunrise service over the next morning at Abraham’s house, and we went and there were so many people. It was pretty neat being in there on Easter, knowing that the patriarch of the Jewish nation—the race of our lord and savior Jesus Christ —had lived there.

BH: In addition to all your projects, you’re still touring, your book came out a few days ago that you helped edit. But you’re a big proponent on your soap box blog of free speech and freedom of religious expression. Tell us a bit about that. What gets you on your soap box?

CD: Well back when we started our website, one of the guys who helped set it up for us told me ‘You’re very opinionated. Why don’t we start a column where you express your opinion.’ And I started doing it weekly, and then it got a little more readership, so then I started doing it twice a week. I like to write about anything, I write about politics or going shopping with my wife which, in fact, turned out to be two cuts above getting root canal done, so sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s very serious. But one of the things I get very serious about is religion. It seems the ACLU and a few other organizations are constantly trying to crush any symbolism or any expression of Christianity, much more so than any other religion, it seems that Buddhism doesn’t bother them, Islam doesn’t bother them, any other religion. But any time you put a cross up, or a creche, or…

BH: The Ten Commandments.

CD: …anything that symbolizes the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, there is an objection to it and I don’t like that. I really get up in arms about it. And I’ve written some pretty strident things about the ACLU and the United Nations.

BH: Well I’ve often said in homilies and such that it feels like one of the principles upon which this country was founded was the freedom of religion and somehow that has morphed into the freedom from religion. That we can never mention religion in the public sphere, and that’s certainly not what the founding fathers had in mind, and if somebody’s deciding to go in that direction we should probably all vote on that, huh?

CD: Well, yeah, if you read the Constitution, it doesn’t say that. People talk about separation of Church and state is not in the Constitution, that was in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote that had even at that time was not meant to mean that, but it says that congress shall pass no law concerning religion, is the exact terminology.

"Dylan said ‘I don’t want another guitar player, I want him.’ And that was the turning point in my have those words come out of Bob Dylan’s mouth, that made you feel like you’re really worth something.
You need a little self worth once in a while, you need a little pat on the back."

BH: It seems like these days, as you’re pointing out, that a lot of people are moving towards the prohibition of expression.

CD: Well it was meant to protect the Church from the government. Not the government from the Church. When the forefathers came over they never meant ours to be a Godless society, by any stretch of the imagination. If we talk about our federal papers, and what our forefathers intended for this to be, well they came here to practice their religion in a way that they saw fit, whatever it happened to be. So I think we’re off on the wrong road there.

BH: Yeah, and it sounds like your soap box is a place where people can hear more about that. It’s Charlie Daniels

CD: It’s I update it twice a week usually on Friday and Monday.

BH: You’ve played with some great artists over the past 40 years can you tell us some of your memories of those experiences?

CD: Bob Dylan came to town doing an album called, “Nashville Skyline” and being a huge Dylan fan, a friend of mine was producing the sessions, a guy named Bob Johnston, and I was trying to make it as studio musician in Nashville and was working in a night club to make a living. I said [to Johnston] you got to let me play on a Dylan session so I can always say that I played with the great Bob Dylan. So he had me come in one afternoon and I played on some songs. And I was packing my instruments about to leave to go to my club gig, and Bob Dylan asked the producer, ‘where’s he going?’ Johnston told him I was leaving and that he had another guitar player coming in. Dylan said ‘I don’t want another guitar player, I want him.’ And that was the turning point in my life basically because after being low man on the totem pole in Nashville for so long and to have nobody really paying any attention, to have those words come out of Bob Dylan’s mouth, that made you feel like you’re really worth something. You need a little self worth once and a while, you need a little pat on the back once and while you know.

BH: Now, you’ve got a Grammy award, I’ve always wondered, is it heavy?

CD: No it’s not.

BH: Because it looks like a little Victrola. I wonder if they’re going to keep the same shape now that nobody knows that this looks like a Gramophone.

CD: I don’t think anybody’s known what that thing’s looked like for the last forty years.

BH: It should look like an iPod or something.

CD: But it wouldn’t be a Grammy, it would be a poddy, I guess

BH: (laughs) Well it’s time to go poddy I guess. Thank you for joining us here on the BustedHalo Show.

CD: It was a pleasure sir. I had a great time, and I thank you for having me on. Maybe we'll do it again someday.

BH: That would be great. Many of our listeners are truckers on the road and you’re on Sirius’s road channel, right?

CD: I’m the voice of the Road Dog channel.

BH: There you go! And now the voice of the Catholic Channel.

CD: I can do that.

BH: (laughter) Well God Bless and good luck with the many ways that you will be speaking out on behalf of the church and Christians.

Fr. Dave Dwyer CSP is the Director of Paulist Young Adult Ministry and the host of the "BustedHalo Show" on Sirius satellite radio.

Thanks to for the pointer.