I know this looks like an ad, but it really isn’t. I’m not trying to sell you something; I just thought I’d reminiscence with you for a moment. This box set, just released, is a compilation of our first eight (8) albums on Mercury records – 1970-1974.
It features some songs and some entire albums that have never before been on cd. These babies saw the light of day on vinyl and 8-track. That must sound like caveman talk to many of you. (And I haven’t even gotten up to cassettes yet.)
When it first arrived, I took an afternoon and rode around in my car for a couple of hours and just listened as if I had never heard these songs before. Some I would swear I haven’t, it’s been so long. But each one of them brought back memories that I hadn’t visited for years. Sometimes I was reminded of the writing session, sometimes of the recording session and sometimes I found myself wondering what the next line would be or how the song would end.
To say I was entertained by these songs would sound haughty so I won’t say that. But I will say they made me smile from time to time.
Pictures – That was the song that started all the nostalgia trend for us. It set the mood of the style and subject we would become known for.
Tender Years – An old George Jones song written by Daryl Edwards was the song that first got me interested in country music. I was just a kid, but the structure and the lyric were like nothing I had ever heard before.
When You and I Were Young, Maggie – That’s what my daddy called my mom even though her name was nothing close to it. I never knew why and I remember being barely able to get through the recording of it without crying.
Take Me Home Country Roads- People in West Virginia got mad at us because we changed the words to “Ole Virginia”. I admit we shouldn’t have. Please accept this belated apology.
The Saturday Morning Radio Show (Roadhog) – We never had more fun doing anything in our career. We wrote it in England, suffering from jet lag, and laughed all night. As soon as we got stateside, we recorded it and laughed some more. We have some classic outtakes that are better than what wound up on the record.
I Wish I Could Be – The only song we recorded where we never sang together. Just four solos.
The Blackwood Brothers by the Statler Brothers – A salute to the heroes who inspired us to sing as we sat in the bleachers and listened and learned from their harmonies and stage presence. They were our music education. James Blackwood and J.D. Sumner were our professors. And later our friends. We loved them so.
You’ve Been Like A Mother To Me – Ronald Reagan was sitting on the front row and suddenly stood with his hand on his heart when we hit the verse that says “America, stand up and show it”. It had the same effect on me that “Maggie” did and I finished the song with tears running down my cheeks.
And there are so many more wonderful memories these songs conjure up, but maybe another time. Thanks for letting me bend your ear. God bless and be careful out there Christmas shopping.
DSR- December 7, 2012
Can it really be one full decade to the day since the Statler Brothers’ final concert? Must be. Calendars do not lie but feelings do. Because I’m feeling it was just a few months ago. But then when I stop and look back with a serious eye, I realize ten years ago I had no grandchildren; now I have four. Ten years ago, I used to wake up in one city and go to sleep that night in another that may be thousands of miles apart. Now I sleep in the same bed every night.
Ten years ago I had a schedule to keep that makes me tired just thinking about now. I had to get my voice and body in shape every evening at 8 p.m. to sing and perform and exert energy I wasn’t sure I had saved up for that day. (Harold always said the hardest part of our job was that we had to be at our peak in the evening when it was natural for the body to be winding down for the day.)
Ten years ago I had never written a book. Now I have seven out there.
In Random Memories, the book my brother and I wrote about the Statler career, we talked about the moments before we went on stage and the moments of walking on the stage for the final time. But I don’t think we mentioned walking off the stage for the last time. I remember it as if it were just hours ago. As we stood there after the last note with our arms around one another soaking in that concluding roar of applause, our last bow, I remember what I said to them with a mist in my eyes. It isn’t picked up on the CD or DVD and it’s just as well as I only meant it for their ears. It was such a public, and at the same time, personal moment for each of us.
After the concert, we had a big feast backstage for families and invited friends and we ate and laughed and cried for at least another two hours. So many folks from the music industry and politicians and fans but then it “dwindled down to a precious few”. Phil rode back the 90 miles home in the car with some of his family; Jimmy did the same. And this left only Harold and Brenda and Debbie and me on the bus with our driver, Stuart.
It was quiet. We turned the radio on, pulled the curtains back and watched the night pass out the window. We talked quietly about what had just happened and felt a deep tiredness from nearly 40 years of doing what we cherished and so wanted to do. God had truly been good to us and I think we realized it more spiritually at that moment than we ever had before.
I talked to Phil at the office a few days ago. Jimmy called me from his dressing room Saturday night just before he went on stage. Harold and I had lunch together yesterday. We all wanted to get together today and just spend some time reminiscing, but it was impossible to make it work. But we will soon and I look forward to it.
And about that thing I said just to them that final moment on stage. It was pretty simple and no big secret. I said, “I love you guys”. And I meant it with all my heart and soul – then and now.
–October 26, 2012