Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

Thanksgiving is a state of mind. A meal that many rush through to avoid spending time with family members they don’t particularly care for. A meal that many linger over for hours enjoying spending time with family members they love and wish they saw more than one time a year. A lazy day to gorge on football and turkey. A busy day spent in a hot and crowded kitchen. A happy time making memories and reacquainting with aunts and uncles and cousins. A sad time having memories of days and people gone, missing their faces and their laughter and those old family jokes that live on through the holidays of time.

I could relate to you dozens and dozens of happy times around the family table and I feel blessed knowing I have those wonderful memories to draw from. And thank the good Lord, there was only one Thanksgiving I ever spent away from home. It was rather empty and lonely at the time but it makes me smile now looking back on it.

We, the Statlers, had gone to L.A. to tape the Dean Martin Christmas Special back in the 70s. Freddie Fender, Georgia Engels, Michael Learned, The Gold Diggers and I don’t remember who else and, of course, Dean. We rehearsed and taped all week and then come Thursday, which happened to be Thanksgiving, we had the day off but had to come back on Friday to finish up the week. We were the only east coast guests on the show, and after turning down a number of thoughtful invitations to Thanksgiving dinners, we spent the day at our hotel with not much to do as everything was closed for the holiday. About four o’clock that afternoon, the four of us, Harold, Phil, Lew and myself, talked and decided that even though all our families were 3000 miles away and having turkey and gravy without us, we could at least have dinner together.

Harold, Don, Dean Martin, Lew, Phil

We had been filming down on the beach at Malibu and were staying there to be close to the location, so we jumped into our rental car and rode around, looking for a restaurant. This was the first time I realized just how packed restaurants are on Thanksgiving Day. I had never been anywhere but home on this day and we were shocked to see the crowds. After trying nine or ten and deeming them too crowded, we finally settled on one and took our chances.

I would give anything to remember the name of that eatery as I have racked my brain for decades and had no luck. But it was shoulder-to-shoulder people. Clanging dishes and crying babies and a din of strident noises that never waned. We sat down, ordered, signed autographs, answered a hundred times why we were there, ate our dressing and sweet potatoes and went back to our hotel. We recalled this day many times for years after and I am so glad now that I had it to compare to all the other Thanksgiving days with which I have so richly been blessed. I missed my family. I missed the traditions. But there are so many who miss so much more and do with so much less that I never fail to remember all of them on this very special and quietly religious day. My prayer of grace always includes them and my prayer of thanks never takes anything for granted.

So, wherever you are and whomever you’re with or not with this year, I will say a prayer for you and wish all of God’s good blessings for your health, your comfort and your peace of mind.

May God be with you and everyone you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

DSR  2019


Country Music Documentary

Written by Don Reid. Posted in General

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns Country Music Documentary on PBS each night this week. And from what I have been hearing, so has most of America. So far, after four episodes and eight hours of history, it does not disappoint. The visuals – the still photos and film clips – are just as good as the music. They tend to transport us back to eras we never knew and some that have faded with memory.

I got a letter last week from Ken Burns thanking me for my participation and giving me a few facts I thought you might enjoy. One hundred and one (101) interviews were conducted. Forty-one with Hall of Famers and twenty (20) with people who have passed away since the project began back in 2012.  I have no idea how the rest of the series looks but from what I have seen, everyone has done a good job. I was surprised to see myself show up in the interview chair just 20 minutes into the first episode. My part was done four years ago and the first interview they did, Little Jimmy Dickens, was done seven years ago.

Image result for maybelle L-5 guitar

I loved the Carter Family beginnings the first night. It was way before my time, but yet so familiar because of the years we, the Statlers, spent with Mother Maybelle, June, Helen and Anita in the 60s decade on the Johnny Cash tours.  They were rich with stories of A.P. Carter and Sarah and how they gathered songs and the early recording sessions. Sarah used to show up from time to time and visit backstage with everyone. She would enter the room with a flair in her mink coat and staple style of another generation and it was mesmerizing being in the same room with her and Maybelle. It was like watching and listening to country music royalty reminisce. And when that classic, invaluable, precious F- Hole guitar of Maybelle’s popped up on the screen, it gave me a few chills and weak knees. That very guitar that she picked “The Wildwood Flower” on, I sat backstage and played and wrote songs on between shows. She even taught me the famous “You Are My Flower” lick on it and I can still feel the strength and pull of those wire guitar strings. That beautiful old instrument, full of music, memories and miles now sits in the Country Music Hall of Fame. And so does Maybelle. And a thought just hit me. So do I.

Ain’t life funny!

Tune in for more starting this Sunday night. I’m enjoying every minute of them.

DSR    9/19/19