- 2000, Bill Anderson and Jon Randall write “Whiskey Lullaby”
- 1993, Curb releases Tim McGraw’s self-titled debut album
- 1980, Charley Pride’s remake of Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues” goes to #1 on the Billboard country chart
- 1961, The Marty Robbins recording “El Paso” wins Best Country & Western Performance during the third annual Grammy Awards
- 2006, Toby Keith’s new label, Show Dog Nashville, releases its first album, Keith’s “White Trash With Money”
- 2000, Faith Hill appears on VH1′s “Divas 2000: A Tribute To Diana Ross,” with Mariah Carey and Donna Summer
- 1978, The “Waylon & Willie” duet album is certified platinum
- 1953, Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” owns the top spot in the Billboard country chart
To most of us, she is Kellie Pickler — the same Kellie Pickler she’s been since we met her on American Idol in 2006. But at home, to her neighbors and friends and most importantly her husband, she is just Kellie Jacobs. And that is exactly how she stays closer to nowhere.
Just like in her new single “Closer to Nowhere,” Pickler knows as long as she is with her husband Kyle Jacobs, she’s good.
“I love this song because it’s a love song that’s not too heavy,” she told me when we sat down during ACM weekend in Las Vegas. “It’s all about getting away from the craziness and the hustle and bustle of the world and just being with your significant other. We all need to make time for that. You don’t want to be married to a stranger. I know I don’t.”
Pickler is blessed, she knows, because being married to a songwriter (Jacobs has written hits for Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Eli Young Band and more) means that he can travel on the road with her.
“Sometimes he can’t, but that works for us,” Pickler said. “There are moments when we miss each other. Then when we see each other, we are so excited to be together. We always make time for us. We are our No. 1 priority. Work always comes second.”
Pickler told me her favorite “Closer to Nowhere” spot is a back porch swing her husband built for them. (Yes, he is a woodworker in his spare time. “I worked hard for this, and I found the perfect man,” she said.)
That swing lets the couple look out over the back yard of their Nashville home.
“We have pickin’ parties out there,” she said. “We are like the rednecks of Green Hills, I swear.”
As for that barrel of Jack Daniel’s whiskey they received back in December? It’s in their wine cellar.
“So now our wine cellar doesn’t have wine in it,” she said. “It’s a whiskey cellar now.”
- 2012, Keith Urban is invited by Vince Gill to join the Grand Ole Opry during a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena
- 2007, The former home of Johnny Cash and June Carter burns to the ground in Hendersonville, Tennessee, while workers are restoring it for new owner Barry Gibb. Watching helplessly: Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Tommy Cash, T.G. Sheppard and several Oak Ridge Boys
- 1995, George Strait records “Check Yes Or No” and “I Know She Still Loves Me” at Nashville’s Emerald Sound Studios
- 1989, “Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses” takes Single Record of the Year for Kathy Mattea and producer Allen Reynolds and Song of the Year for Mattea and songwriters Gene and Paul Nelson at the 24th annual Academy Of Country Music awards, aired on NBC from the Disney Studios in Burbank
- 2007, Rascal Flatts and Loretta Lynn are celebrated at the Recording Academy Honors at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza in Nashville. Also recognized are non-country acts Jars Of Clay and the Fisk Jubilee Singers
- 1999, Faith Hill launches her first tour as a solo headliner with a performance at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis
- 1991, Patty Loveless earns her first gold album, for “Honky Tonk Angel”
- 1953, Singer/songwriter Hal Ketchum is born in Greenwich, New York. He joins the Grand Ole Opry in 1994 on the back of such melodic singles as “Small Town Saturday Night,” “Past The Point Of Rescue” and “Sure Love”
“Every day!” Strait told reporters with a laugh. “No, I really think I made the right choice. I do. It’s been a great two years of touring. We’ve probably got about 10 more things to do this year, then we’re done for a while. I’ll probably take a year off, make a record and do a few dates after that, here and there. It’s been a great tour, though.”
Referring to his entertainer of the year win, one journalist asked, “George, what’s it like to stick it to the youngsters?”
With a hearty laugh, the singer replied, “Well, I don’t look at it that way, actually. Most of those people are friends of mine. I know them all, and I’ve worked with them. They’re all deserving of this award.”
He continued, “I’ve got some great fans out there that have been with me 30 years. I still see some of them today that I saw back in the ’80s at my shows. So it’s because of them. … I couldn’t have written this. No way. I couldn’t have dreamed it like that.”
Strait is a five-time ACM male vocalist winner who also collected the 1989 entertainer award. In addition, he is the ACM’s artist of the decade for the 2000s. Beyond all the accolades, though, he is likely the most-admired country star in the format today among fellow artists and fans alike.
At one point during his chat with reporters, Kacey Musgraves burst into the pressroom and hollered, “I love you! Congrats!” then rushed off. Strait just chuckled and said, “I love that. Thank you, Kacey.”
Asked about his influence on the new crop of contemporary artists, Strait shrugged it off.
“What are they thinking?” he said with a smile. “You know, it’s quite an honor. It’s very flattering for them to be like that. I mean, I know that I had my heroes growing up in country music, like Merle Haggard tonight. It was so great to see him here. I haven’t seen him at one of these shows in so long, and just to have him here, I thought it was amazing. I hope he had a great time.”
He continued, “I’ve got to feel like it’s something like that — the way I looked up to George Jones and Merle Haggard. Not that I’m comparing myself to them at all. Because I’m not. Nobody can do that, but if it’s some kind of little piece of that, I’m flattered by it.”
- 2011, Carrie Underwood makes her movie acting debut, playing a church counselor for a youth group as Tristar’s “Soul Surfer” reaches theaters
- 2004, Baseball’s San Diego Padres play their first game at the new Petco Park. Rhett Akins, Chad Brock and Daryle Singletary sing”Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” while president Jimmy Carter throws out the first pitch. The Padres beat San Francisco, 4-3
- 1989, Keith Whitley picks up a #1 single in Billboard with “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”
- 1960, John Schneider is born in Mount Kisco, New York. He portrays Bo Duke on the TV series “The Dukes Of Hazzard,” then shifts into a country career that nets 10 Top 10 hits, including “I’ve Been Around Enough To Know” and “Country Girls”
Long before Charlie Daniels became known as a Southern Rock pioneer or topped the country and pop charts with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” he was a journeyman club musician who occasionally found work as a Nashville studio musician.
It took several more years for Daniels to become a household name, but his reputation as a musician skyrocketed after playing on the sessions for Bob Dylan’s 1970 album Nashville Skyline. Dylan had previously traveled to Nashville to record two other significant albums — Blonde on Blonde (1966) and John Wesley Harding (1967). However, it was the first time Daniels recorded with him. After the Nashville Skyline sessions, he was also featured on Dylan’s Self Portrait and New Morning albums.
Daniels has just released Off the Grid — Doin’ It Dylan, a mostly-acoustic collection of the singer-songwriters songs, including “Tangled Up in Blue,” “I Shall Be Released” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
During a recent interview at CMT’s offices in Nashville, Daniels talked about the challenge of covering Dylan’s music and how it was a fluke that Dylan producer Bob Johnston called him to play on the first session.
CMT.com: I remember interviewing Charlie McCoy about his work on Blonde on Blonde. He said after Dylan recorded that album, the session musicians agreed that everything had just changed in Nashville. How much session work had you done prior to Nashville Skyline?
Daniels: I had done not nearly as much as Charlie McCoy, by any means. I was not one of the first-call session musicians. There was a lot of stuff going on here that I didn’t fit on very well. I came here after 12 years of bang-slam rock ‘n’ roll, playing beer joints and taverns and that sort of thing. I tended to play loud. I tended to play bluesy. I tended to play a different style than what was going on in Nashville at the time. When Al Kooper came to town, I fit good on his sessions and certain people that I played with — Marty Robbins stuff, to some extent.
Do you remember where you were when you got the call to record with Dylan?
I really don’t. I was working in a beer joint or a club. I’d asked Bob Johnston about it. I told him I really wanted to play on one of the sessions. The way it worked out was that the guitar player he had coming in could make every sessions except the very first one. So he said, “You come in and play.” And I thought it was great that I could do that — that I could go in and play that one session. When we got through and I was packing my guitars up to go to my club gig, Dylan said, “Where’s he going?” Johnston said, “I’ve got another guitar player coming in.” Dylan said, “I don’t want another guitar player. I want him.” I was like, “Wow! That’s gangbusters to me.”
Having previously worked with Mike Bloomfield, it could be that Dylan wanted a guitar player who had more of an edge.
I hung on every word that came out of his mouth and every note he played on his guitar. I was trying to interpret everything he was doing to the very best of my ability. I mean, I really got into it. I really concentrated as hard as I could. I played as good as I could. Evidently, I played some notes he liked.
What was the vibe like at the sessions?
It was a great vibe. A lot of Nashville sessions back then, you had to do four songs in three hours. And that was it. It was a financial thing. To make it work, you had to cut four songs in three hours. With Dylan, it didn’t make any difference. If you cut one song in five hours, it didn’t make any difference. It was like he wasn’t in any kind of a hurry. But it went so smoothly, they only used a part of the sessions. I think they had 15 booked, and I think they used only three quarters of them.
Part of that is a testament to the Nashville session players.
Oh, absolutely. There’s no doubt about it. There was a looseness and a good vibe going on. But Dylan was in a good mood. All the preconceived things I’d read about him being reclusive and eccentric, all that kind of stuff just fell out. It just wasn’t happening. He was just one of the guys. Just in there playing music. That’s the way it was. He was having a good time, we were having a good time, and I think it shows on the record.
Recording with people like Dylan and Ringo Starr is some high cotton for a guy who was playing in beer joints.
Everything’s high cotton to me. Making a living playing music, I just thank God I’ve been able to make a living doing something I love so much. … I’m still having fun. If I quit having fun, I wouldn’t do it. The music business, if you don’t love it, will aggravate you to death.
I have to admit that I’m always a little skeptical when somebody makes an album of cover songs, but some of the songs, such as “Country Pie,” aren’t the obvious choices. The arrangements of the famous songs manage to be unique, too.
We tried to make it different. I didn’t want to do Charlie Daniels Does Bob Dylan. I wanted The Charlie Daniels Band Does Bob Dylan Songs. The only thing we literally took were the songs — the melody and the lyrics. We didn’t copy the arrangements. We didn’t copy the tempos. We didn’t even copy the beats, in some ways.
For instance, “Lay Lady Lay,” which I did play on for Nashville Skyline, is one of my favorites. And I wanted to do it for this album. But we could not find a way to do it that would complement the song other than to do it like it was done on the record. It’s the quintessential recording of it. Pete Drake’s got that crying steel guitar behind it, and what Kenny Buttrey played on the drums and what everybody else played made it a special cut. And I couldn’t hear it any other way. So we just left it alone. There were songs like that — songs that we could not put our mark on, basically — so we found songs that we could put our mark on.
What’s your favorite Dylan album?
I like Nashville Skyline a lot. To me that was a departure from anything he’d ever done. I thought it was much more mellow. … I like the early albums. You go back to Freewheelin’ and all those early albums that he did. When I really got into him was when he started adding the other musicians with stuff like ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ My favorite Dylan is him with other musicians, but I like the early stuff.
He has caused so much change in the music business. There was a time when the only way you had hit records was either you recorded something from a Broadway musical or you got something out of the Brill Building from the staff writers or Tin Pan Alley. … When people hear somebody who takes that kind of license and freedom when they create something, they think, “That’s got to be the way to do it. I want to get in that bag. I can’t do it like he does it, but in my way, I want to do it.”
Some artists go through a brief period of creativity and then seem to lose the muse, but Dylan is still making vital music and still touring — and so are you.
I love what I do. I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m 77 years old, and I love it as much as I ever did. I’ve done it on a lot of levels, and I’ve loved every one of them. Dylan, I guess, it’s just that God-given talent that comes out in him, and he wants to express himself. I don’t know if he loves performing live as much as I do or not, but he keeps doing it. He’s fixin’ to go on a tour of Japan and Europe. He’s got to love it.
You previously did a bluegrass album. Are there any other theme-type projects you want to do?
There’s no telling what I’ll want to do. I’ll have to live to be 150 to do everything I want to do.
- 2009, Broken Bow releases Jason Aldean’s album “Wide Open”
- 1999, Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” album is recognized for shipments of 10 million copies, making her the first country female to have two albums reach that mark
- 1959, Marty Robbins records “El Paso” and “Big Iron” in the same recording session at the Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville while cutting the entire “Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs” album in a single day
- 1951, Restless Heart drummer John Dittrich is born in Batavia, New York. He provides harmonies on a string of 1980s hits and sings lead on “When She Cries” in 1992. Dittrich also co-founds the short-lived group The Buffalo Club
- 2007, Luke Bryan sings “All My Friends Say” in his Grand Ole Opry debut
- 1992, Mercury releases Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart”
- 1987, Randy Travis claims four trophies–Top Male Vocalist; Album of the Year, for “Storms Of Life”; and Single Record and Song, for “On The Other Hand”–in the 22nd Academy Of Country Music awards, aired by NBC from Knott’s Berry Farm in California
- 1956, Capitol Records opens its new Hollywood headquarters, the world’s first round office building, at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. Among the artists who record in the studio: Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Dwight Yoakam and Merle Haggard