29
May

A Little Vacation

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

This may become the most personal and gooey-sweet blog you have ever read, so if you want to quit reading right now, leave with my blessings.  You have been warned.

My family, Langdon and Alexis and their two – Caroline and Davis; D and Julie and their two  – Sela and Adra; were going to Nashville for a few days as Wilson/Fairchild was performing at the Ryman Auditorium Thursday night and the kids had been wanting to go to Music City.  Debbie and I decided we would go down for the day, also, and make it a family affair.  D made all the arrangements for our day as sort of a surprise to me and it went off without a hitch beginning at:

THE JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM.  As I walked through the door I walked through decades of memories I had not faced in years.  Sights and sounds of old friends and old events that suddenly came rushing back from another lifetime.  There all around me was John; June; Luther Perkins; Marshall Grant; Carl Perkins; Mother Maybelle and Helen and Anita Carter.  All these wonderful people who were so much a part of my young life from 1964 to 1973.  We all practically lived together on the road for those 9 years as we traveled around the globe together. Sang together every night.  Ate together.  Shared our personal lives with one another.  Became a family.  And here I was walking amid the pictures and remembrances of those days and folks gone by.  John “discovered us” as the saying goes in show business.  To be more to the point, if there had been no Cash, there would have been no Statlers.  I left that place with my heart in my hand – so very full of yesterdays and so very thankful for all the memories it conjured up inside me.

The next stop after lunch they laid on me was a tour of:

THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME.  I had only been there once since our induction ceremony June 29, 2008.  That visit hadFamily.HOF been on business but this one was leisure and with all my family by my side.  To stand there in front of the Statler Brothers plaque hanging on the wall amongst so many of my boyhood heroes and to have all my grandchildren standing beside me was nearly more than this old heart can take.  I deeply felt emotions I had never known before and I left there with something inside me that had never been revealed to me from any other experience in my life.  And I wouldn’t know exactly what it was until later that night, because the day wasn’t over yet.

That same evening was the event we had all come to town for:

WILSON/FAIRCHILD AT THE RYMAN AUDITORIUM.  And there was my son, Langdon, and my nephew, Wil, singing on the stage of the

WF.JF.RymanMother Church of Country Music.  Standing where Hank Williams and Roy Acuff and Tex Ritter had stood.  And, yes, we had stood there many times, also.  But this was their night and they captured and entertained the fans like only they can because they were fantastic and I was swelling with pride for them while being drenched in retrospect and reverence of the old building itself.  This very stage is where we first performed on the Grand Ole Opry; where we filmed the Johnny Cash TV Show on ABC every week back in the 60s and 70s.  I practically lived in the place 18 hours a day for years. So by this time I could barely see my hand in front of me through the mist in my eyes, when Wil and Langdon were joined on stage by my brother in song and spirit, Jimmy Fortune, and together they sang one of our hits, “Guilty”.  And then I knew. As I was standing applauding them, I knew what this whole day was trying to say to me.

All of those early years of Cash memories that had flooded me this very morning of when I was 18-27 years old; the Hall of Fame tour this afternoon visiting with my musical heroes of the past and all the sweet recollections of the Statlers’ career; and now sitting here seeing Wil and Lang on stage with my old partner singing a song Harold and I wrote 35 years ago; and doing all this with Debbie and my grandchildren and my sons and my daughters-in-law with me – those I love so dearly. The heaviness of the moment and the entire day dawned on me.  My professional life and my personal life had finally come together in one glorious day.  In one sweet moment in time.  All of those wonderful yesterdays and all my beloved family were in me at the same time and who I was at this very moment is who I truly am.

I didn’t tell Debbie that night but I was almost afraid to go to sleep not knowing what it all meant.  But I knew that no matter which side I woke up on, I have been blessed of life, love and spirit beyond all expectation.  I am one happy, thankful and fulfilled man.

If you’re still reading, see?  You were warned.  God bless you.  We’ll talk again.

DSR     May 29, 2017 DSR.HOF

17
Apr

Meeting My First President

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

I was eating lunch all by myself at home when I got a text today from my son, Debo, who asked, “Do you know where you were on this date in 1970?”  My reply was an obvious, “No, do you?”  And sure enough he did.  He wrote back, “You were at the White House performing for President Nixon.  Give me some memories.”  And sure enough he was right.  I get that a lot from both my sons.  They are great Statler historians and they are always saying to me, “Give me some memories”.  I usually don’t think I have much to offer and maybe I don’t on this, but here goes with what I remember.

IMG_Nixon-Stats

April 17, 1970- 47 year ago – Memories:

We were right in the heat of the Johnny Cash TV show on ABC.  We were regulars on every show; the show was hot and the invitation came from the White House for John and cast to come to D.C and entertain.  But it also came with what was said to be a personal request from the President for John to sing “Welfare Cadillac”.  This was a novelty hit of the day, long gone and forgotten now, by someone named Guy Drake and I never heard of him before or after this one song.  But the lyric was about bilking the welfare system and we knew John was not going to do anything that political at the time even if it was requested personally by the President of the United States. But it was a big national news story for about a week before the appearance and all the country was in suspense as to whether Johnny Cash would sing this political, satiric ditty that Mr. Nixon had requested.

John and June, the Statlers, Carl Perkins, the Carters and The Tennessee Three converged on the White House at 4:30 that afternoon for a rehearsal in the East Room.  (The Statlers would perform a number of times by invitation in that same room for future presidents although we had no idea of those coming events at the time.)  President Nixon personally served as emcee and introduced the show that night.  He was in a particularly good mood as Apollo 13 had just splashed down successfully hours before the show began.  He and First Lady Pat sat on the front row and hopefully enjoyed themselves.  We never knew for sure because they were very somber and staid people and their faces never really reflected whether they were having a good time or not.  It was a rousing good show as I remember it and afterward the Nixons and all the Washington dignitaries there were in a glee telling us how much they enjoyed it.  The President even invited the Statlers to his house in San Clemente a couple of years later.  He gave us each a pair of Presidential cuff links that I always wear whenever I dress formal.

We did a lot of gospel songs with John that night: “Peace in the Valley”, “Were You There?”, “This Ole House”. We learned from John never to turn from the music you’re comfortable with no matter where you’re playing.  It’s your music that has brought you there and you should always be yourself in every situation.  Which brings us right back around to “Welfare Cadillac”.

Just as we had predicted when it first came up, he did not sing that song.  He never sang that song. And to this day it is still a minor mystery as to who Guy Drake was.

And here’s something else I remember.  The audience was full of Congressmen and Governors of the day and familiar faces from the evening news and it was sort of a heady experience to see them all there listening intently as we performed.  But the calming effect was three friendly faces from our own comfort level smiling back at us all from the second row.  Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter and Archie Campbell.  I loved all three of those legends dearly.  I should write about each of them one day.

 

4/17/17    DSR