Daniels Says He Still Has Much to Do in Music
Posted on: Friday, 23 May 2008, 15:00 CDT
By Nathalie Baret For the Journal
"People ask me what fires me up after all these years," Charlie Daniels said in a phone interview from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "I tell them I sincerely love doing what I do for a living. It's exhilarating to me. It's in my blood. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
At 72, Daniels seems remarkably at peace. With 50 years of being in the music business, his checklist includes scoring hits like "Uneasy Rider" and the unforgettable "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," earning gold and platinum records that he keeps tucked away in his basement, and a trophy case full of Grammy, Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music and Gospel Music Association awards that are on display in his very own downtown Nashville museum.
There's more: Add two books he's written, one of essays, the other of short stories, and a third that credits him as editor on "Growing Up Country," a book of dissertations by musicians, celebrities and Southern politicians. He's the voice behind the "Road Dog" truckers channel on Sirius Satellite radio, he's listed in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and for those who didn't know, he recorded a children's album titled "By the Light of the Moon: Campfire Songs and Cowboy Tunes."
Are there more hills to climb?
"Sure," said Daniels. "I'd love to do something with B.B. King. I'm a big blues fan of his work. But I'm still working on my first hill -- I want every album to go platinum and every show sold out. I haven't got to that yet, but it's on my wish list."
The legendary entertainer may have some wishes left to fulfill, but on the flip side, he's been blessed with some unexpected, stellar career highlights. His most recent addition was on Jan. 19, when his lifelong dream came true.
During last year's "Christmas for Kids" show, an annual benefit that Daniels hosts to raise money for underprivileged children "so that kids can get on buses and go to large retail areas and go shopping," the singer/ songwriter received a sweet surprise from country star Martina McBride.
"Martina comes out during the show and announces, 'Thanks for doing these shows. Now it's time to make a wish come true for you, too,' " he said. "To be honest, I had no idea what was going on until she actually said that I was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I was at a loss for words, which isn't an ordinary state of affairs for me because I'm very seldom like that. But I was that night. I've seen the tape of it, how I reacted at the time, and it was like this unconscious, 'Wow!' "
The fleet-fingered guitarist and fiddle player has had several more surprises surface during the last five decades. One timeless moment includes "It Hurts Me," a song he co-wrote that was picked in 1964 to be the B side of a record by one of his all-time heroes.
"I didn't know Elvis Presley was going to use it," Daniels said. "I grew up cutting my teeth on WSM, a 50,000-watt radio station out of Nashville that played his music and aired the Opry shows. I was a big fan of his. So when a friend of mine and I wrote that song and submitted it, we really had no idea he was going to record it."
Spurred by the success of that track, Daniels moved to middle Tennessee to do session work. His guitar playing, which to some producers was considered too loud, appealed to Bob Dylan, who welcomed Daniels' eclectic, independent style and hired him to play on three of his LPs: "Nashville Skyline,""New Morning" and "Self Portrait."