A couple days ago, Charlie Daniels received a Career Achievement Award from the Country Radio Broadcasters. It honors the artists who have made "a significant contribution to the development and promotion of country music and radio." And he has certainly done that. But he's also made a smaller and perhaps less significant contribution to the world of music: He inspired a very unlikely fiddle player in my six-year-old daughter. If there was an award for that, I'm pretty sure he'd get that too.
Taylor Swift gets an awful lot of credit for bringing a younger demo into country music, but guys like Daniels are doing it too. While adults bask in Daniels' rebel brand of Southern country-rock, all my budding fiddler knew was that the music was so good she wanted to rosin up her bow and play that fiddle hard. She knew nothing of his heyday in the early 80s. She had no idea what his political stance was, or what his lyrics meant. ("Chicken in the bread pan pickin' out dough/Granny does your dog bite? No, child, no"
Who does know what that means?)
This Charlie Daniels epiphany my daughter had at such a young age gained some closure when Gretchen Wilson admitted in "Redneck Woman" that she knew all the words to every Charlie Daniels song. Her little mind seemed to reason that if he was good enough for Gretchen, he was certainly good enough for her. He is the quintessential country boy, she is the quintessential little girl. They made an odd pair the day she finally met him, and she asked him to autograph her pink fiddle. That fiddle, her first and therefore most beloved, has become something of a trophy in our house. If my prodigy sticks with this talent of hers, she may go on to win her own mantel full of ACMs, CMAs and Grammys. But the fiddle with Charlie Daniels' name on it will always be the one she treasures most.