Writing A Song •
Introduction by Jim Liddane
In 1958, he wrote his first hit song. In 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2002, BMI named him its first country songwriting icon, placing him alongside Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and James Brown as the only recipients of that award. In 2018, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, while in 2023, a mere 65 years after this first hit, he was nominated for a Grammy for the Best American Roots Performance for "Someday It'll All Make Sense"!
Bill Anderson, a luminary in the realm of music, stands as a testament to the profound impact that a gifted songwriter and singer can have on both the industry and the hearts of millions. With a career that spans over six decades and a catalogue of timeless compositions, Anderson's journey is a resonant melody of creativity, emotion, and connection.
As a songwriter, Bill Anderson's pen has weaved tales of love, heartache, joy, and introspection that have touched the souls of listeners across generations. His vocal prowess is equally awe-inspiring. His voice carries a unique blend of warmth, sincerity, and vulnerability, a sonic signature that lends authenticity to his performances.
Beyond his artistry, Bill Anderson's career is punctuated by accolades that underscore his enduring impact. His songs have indeed graced charts worldwide and his recordings have received critical acclaim, but it is his humility and down-to-earth nature that truly set him apart. Despite his monumental success, Anderson remains connected to his roots, always acknowledging his fans and fellow artists with the grace and kindness that have become synonymous with his name.
In a world that often seeks the next big thing, Bill Anderson's legacy stands as a reminder of the power of consistency, authenticity, and true artistry.
International Songwriters Association asked Larry Wayne Clark to journey to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on a cold Friday night in December, to talk to the man as he once again wowed a packed Giand Ole Opry audience.
A wise man knows it’s best to speak softly and let his accomplishments do his shouting for him, and “Whisperin’”
Bill Anderson is a wise man - not to mention an extremely accomplished one. Nashville is full of songwriters who
can boast long careers, but few can match Anderson when it comes to remaining contemporary before the eyes and
ears of several decades. Long after his own radio career has faded, Anderson has garnered new favour (and no small
amount of monetary reward) thanks to younger artists such as Steve Wariner (“Two Teardrops”), Kenny Chesney
(“A Lot Of Things Different”) and, especially, Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, whose haunting rendition of
“Whiskey Lullaby” made that eerie ballad an instant classic. The song, co-written with Jon Randall, received Song
of The Year honours at the 2005 Country Music Awards ceremonies, held in New York City. A stark drama rife with
alcoholism, despair and a double suicide, “Whiskey Lullaby” will probably become as famous as “He Stopped
Loving Her Today,” with which it shares a certain seductive morbidity, both songs so unmitigatedly sad that they’re
somehow pleasurable to hear.
James William Anderson III was born in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1937, but grew up mostly around Atlanta,
Georgia, where his family moved when the boy was nine. In high school he formed a hillbilly band called the
Avondale Playboys that became popular enough that an Atlanta TV personality would occasionally hire them to play
benefits. That man’s name was Dick Van Dyke. Anderson also rubbed elbows with fledgling celebrities of the music
world, several of them a name-change away from future glory. Joe Souter became famous as Joe South.
Neighbouring schoolmates Jerry Hubbard and Ray Ragsdale became, respectively, Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens.
Anderson worked his way through college as a radio DJ and sportswriter, during which time he also began writing
songs as a hobby.
He was a freshman at the University of Georgia when he got his first song published. “No Love Have I” was
recorded by Arkansas Jimmy on TNT Records, an independent label based in San Antonio, Texas. Suffice it to say
the song did not change the world (Anderson received a royalty check for $2.52), but it was a harbinger of much
bigger things. By the time he graduated from U of G with a degree in journalism, Anderson had written “City
Lights,” his first standard. He recorded the song himself for TNT in 1957. A year later it became a #1 hit for Ray
Price, and thus were established the parallel careers of Bill Anderson: whisper-soft performer and powerhouse
Deciding that music was destined to be more than a hobby in his life, Bill Anderson headed to Nashville.
Signed to Decca Records in 1958, Anderson began recording a string of hits including “Mama Sang A Song,”
“Tips Of My Fingers,” “Po’ Folks” and “Still,” which was also a pop Top 10. His songs were also in heavy demand
by other artists. He helped launch the career of Connie Smith with “Once A Day.” Lefty Frizzell had one of his
career hits with “Saginaw, Michigan” (co-written with Don Wayne) and Jean Shepard scored with “Slippin’ Away.”
“Tips Of My Fingers,” perhaps Anderson’s most pervasive standard, was a hit for him in 1960, then for Roy Clark
in 1963, Eddy Arnold in 1966 and Steve Wariner in 1996.
Bill Anderson songs have also been recorded by Roger
Miller, Hank Locklin, Charlie Louvin, Porter Wagoner, Kitty Wells, Mickey Gilley, Conway Twitty and many more.
For some, Bill Anderson is most familiar as a television personality. He had his own syndicated TV series from
1963 till ’73. He was the first country personality to host a network game show, ABC’s The Better Sex. For six years
he hosted a country-themed game show on The Nashville Network called Fandango. He also hosted a TNN interview
show called Opry Backstage and co-produced You Can Be A Star. For three years he appeared on a daytime soap
opera, ABC’s One Life To Live, and he has been a guest on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Match Game,
Family Feud and Hee Haw.
And let’s not forget Bill Anderson, author. His autobiography, Whisperin’ Bill, was published in 1989. In 1993,
he authored I Hope You’re Living As High On The Hog As The Pig You Turned Out To Be, a humorous and
anecdotal look at the music business that’s currently in its third printing.
Anderson parted company with Decca/MCA in 1982 (his last Top 5 hit was 1978’s “I Can’t Wait Any Longer”),
after which he recorded for Southern Tracks and Curb. His latest CD, The Way I Feel, released on the independent
TWI label, features his own version of “Whiskey Lullaby” and nine other tracks delivered with that trademark
conversational huskiness that seem to sum up the Anderson lifeview: flag and country, Mama, NASCAR, home
cookin’, hard work and good old-fashioned family values, all set to simply chorded, hummable melodies. Think of a
guitar-strumming Will Rogers with a backdrop by Norman Rockwell. Sure, things can get mighty sad at times - just
take another listen to “Whiskey Lullaby” but somehow life marches on and the good stuff prevails.
A recipient of countless awards, Anderson resides in the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia
Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame and South Carolina’s Music and Entertainment Hall
of Fame. In 2001 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Bill Anderson has stayed busy through the years, and these days he seems to be on a real roll. You catch him, if
you catch him at all, on the fly. That’s why I’m standing in the wings of the Ryman Auditorium on a Friday night in
December, watching the glorious chaos of the Grand Ole Opry unfold before my eyes - guitars and basses plugged
and unplugged, drummers and piano players changing over, background singers shuffling - while the audience
listens politely to live advertisements for Cracker Barrel restaurants and awaits the next performance. Here’s Little
Jimmy Dickens looking, well, little. Marty Stuart passes by hand in hand with Connie Smith. I notice that the man
standing solemnly beside me is Jim Ed Brown.
I’m scheduled to interview Whisperin’ Bill between shows. We haven’t yet been introduced but I can see him
standing across the stage in the opposite wingtall and slim in a black, rhinestone-encrusted toreador jacket, supple
and straight at 70, still looking a lot like that tow-headed youngster who came to Nashville all those years ago as he
listens for Eddie Stubbs’s booming baritone announcement:
“And now, ladies and gentleman, your host for this portion of the Grand Ole Opry . . . Whisperin’ Bill Anderson!”
Forty minutes later we sit together in an upstairs dressing room in front of a mirror gilded with makeup lights....
It seems quite appropriate to be meeting here. You’ve been an Opry member for over 40 years.
I joined the Opry in ’61. Yeah, I was four years old at the time! [laughs]. It’s fun to come back to the Ryman because
there are so many memories here. But of course it’s changed. I mean, we would have killed for a dressing room this nice
back in those days.
And air conditioning, I imagine.
Air conditioning, yeah. And you know, a few creature comforts that we certainly didn’t have back then.
You’ve seen some amazing changes in a career that’s spanning almost 50 years by my reckoning.
[whistles softly] It’s frightening to hear you say that! Yeah, I had my first hit song in 1958 and we’re sitting here right
now. So we’re closing in on it.
So you began in radio?
Started as a disc jockey in a couple of small towns down in Georgia. Wrote the song “City Lights” while I was
working in Commerce, Georgia.
While you were going to university?
I was going to the University of Georgia. I was going to school in the mornings and playing country records on the
radio in the afternoons. And I should’ve been studying at night, but I was sitting around making up songs instead.
But you got a degree.
I did somehow!
Plus you had a hit song by the time you left; I’d say you did okay.
[laughs] I guess that was the objective, wasn’t it? I never thought about it quite like that. Yeah I did. I got the degree
and had had “City Lights” by Ray Price by the time I left.
But you released it yourself first, I read.
I brought it out first, yeah. I cut it on a little small record label called TNT Records, which was based out of San
Antonio. I cut my record in Athens at the university. They were building a television studio there and they had only
wired it for sound. They hadn’t finished it but they had enough sound equipment in there that they let me and some of
my buddies go in there. I think they were kinda experimenting with their equipment and we were experimenting with
some songs, and ended up cutting the record there.
My record came out first, and it got to Nashville and got heard by a man named Charlie Lamb who had a magazine in
those days called The Music Reporter. And he was very enamoured with the song “City Lights” and took it to Chet
Atkins at RCA. Chet was producing a young artist then named Dave Rich, who was quite a stylist. I always said Dave
Rich was kinda like Willie Nelson; he was ahead of his time for many years. The difference was Dave gave up and went
into the ministry rather than continue in his singing career.
Willie wouldn’t know how to give up!
No, giving up wasn’t in Willie’s vocabulary!
Same as you! You guys don’t want to retire.
Then Ray Price heard Dave Rich’s record on the radio and that’s how “City Lights” came to be a Ray Price hit.
So it was recorded twice before his cut?
Yeah, me and Dave Rich both had it out. I think what happened was, really and truly - and I’ve talked to Dave about
this a little bit - I think Dave just felt like at that point in his life, when “City Lights” went on to become such a big hit
for Ray, I think Dave felt that “maybe the good Lord just didn’t want me to be in the country music business,” and he
went into the ministry and did a lot of gospel music. And so far as I know he’s still doing that.
So you had yourself a #1 song in rapid order. It was, what, the second song you’d had published? I know you’d
had an earlier cut by Arkansas . . . ?
Arkansas Jimmy [laughs] recorded the first song I ever got recorded, and that was on TNT Records. And I had made
a record previous to “City Lights.” So I’d actually had three songs out when “City Lights” came out, and actually,
ironically, “City Lights” was supposed to be the B-side of my record. This was in 1957 and that was the rockabilly era,
and I had a little rockabilly-type song on the other side. That’s the one they were playing all over Georgia where I was
living and working and everything. I had a little minor rockabilly hit, and then somebody discovered “City Lights” on
the other side and of course it all flipped over.
Talk about the Avondale Playboys.
That was my high school. I went to Avondale High School right outside of Atlanta, and that was my first band. We
billed ourselves as “Georgia’s Youngest Hillbilly Band.” I don’t think we could call us that anymore!
I understand that you went to school with lots of interesting people whose careers would rise parallel with your
own people like Ray Stevens. .
Ray and I were in high school in Atlanta at the same time; we were not at the same school. I had been at the school
where he was and then we moved. Jerry Reed and I were in high school at the same time; he was in a different school. I
say we went to different schools together!
Yeah, Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed . . . Roy Drusky was a disc jockey in my home town in those days, and actually
engineered my very first record that I ever cut. So there was a pretty good little well of talent down there in Georgia at
that time. Jack Greene later came out of there, and several others.
What got you into music? Was there anything in your family to create a precedent for that?
Not really. Looking back on it I think it just must’ve been born in me. My mom and dad tell me I could find the music
on the radio a long time before I could tie my shoes. It was just something that I gravitated toward. Mom or Dad, neither
one had been in the business or anything related to it. Going back a generation, my grandfather on my mother’s side was
a preacher, and my grandfather on my dad’s side was an old-time fiddle player. So maybe I got a little bit from the fiddle
player and a little bit from the preacher. But as far as it really being in the family, I was the black sheep! [laughs]
Not for long, I don’t think.
Well . . . they were good to me. My parents didn’t quite understand this thing called show business, but they never told
me to put down my guitar and get a real job.
Those were also the days when, if you had a bit of rockabilly in you, people didn’t really grasp that there was a
career to be had in that sort of new-fangled music. Obviously there was a lot of money waiting down the road, but
I can imagine back in the ’50s that your parents might have been a little taken aback by your choice.
It was really an exciting time. It was one of the most creative times, I think, in the history of American music, because
the hit records were coming out on these little bitty off-brand labels by people you never heard of. They were cutting
them in their garage. I mean when Sam Phillips started Sun Records in Memphis and turned out the records by Elvis and
Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison and all these people, it just kinda opened up this entrepreneurial spirit all
across the country.
I was telling somebody the other day, during my disc jockey days I didn’t rush to open the packages of records from
RCA or Columbia or Decca or Capitol - the big companies. I opened the ones from these little labels you never heard of
’cause that’s where the hits were, by artists you never heard of before and most of ’em you never heard of again. It was
a very exciting time, very creative time, in the music business.
There was a chance that there might be a gem in there.
Yeah. And I think everybody felt when they went into the studio, “Hey, I’ve got just as good a chance as anybody
else.” You know, it wasn’t politics and all that kind of stuff back then, it was just who had that next unusual sound.
How did the songwriter and the artist intertwine in you? Did you want to be a singer, therefore you wrote
yourself some songs? Or did you want to be a songwriter, so you sang your own stuff to get it heard?
Probably a little bit of both. I’ve always loved to write. When I was in school English was my favourite subject. The
teacher would say, “Go home and write an essay tonight,” and everybody in the class would go, “Awww,” and I’d go,
“Yay, I get to write!” Because I loved to write. At one time I wanted to be a newspaper writer. I was a sportswriter in
Atlanta for a couple of years.
Where does that fit into the chronology?
It was during my last couple of years of high school. I was doing sports writing for a couple of different newspapers. I
love sports, always have. My three loves in my life were always writing, sports and country music. And I think
somewhere along the way I would have managed to have done something with one or some combination of those. It just
happened I ended up doing the writing and the country music.
Did you play any sports?
Yeah, I did. I played football for two years and then I played baseball for four years, and actually had a chance out of
high school to perhaps further my baseball career. But by then I had discovered music and a couple of other guys that
liked to play guitars, so I never went back for baseball.
So it seems that after graduating from the University of Georgia you did nothing but music, is that correct?
Yeah. Well, “City Lights” came out, I guess, during my junior year of college - maybe the early part of my senior year
- so doors were starting to open for me. I remember going back for graduation. Graduation exercises were about ten
o’clock in the morning and at noon I was in my car, driving to Nashville. I mean all I had in my mind was just, “Okay,
I finished school, that’s what my parents asked me to do, now I’m gonna go chase whatever this thing is up there in
Nashville.” And I’m still chasing it - I’ll catch it one of these days!
It seems to be keeping you young. I can do the math and, looking at you, it seems a decade or so has passed you
Well, you’re very kind, thank you. I think this business . . . you know, it is a young person’s business and you
associate with a lot of young artists and writers
You certainly do, and profitably, it seems.
I’ve been very blessed in that regard, because when I started writing again - I quit writing for a period of time, about
10 years - and when I started back I started on a whole new level, writing with a lot of the young new writers, and I
emphasise young because the writers I had known 10 years before, they weren’t really writing much anymore. So to get
back into it I had to kinda connect with some of these young people, and I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if
they would accept me and I didn’t know if I was capable of doing it. But once I found out that I was it just opened up a
whole new world for me.
So it seems. Congratulations, by the way, on your Song of the Year award.
Thank you. A fella just stuck his head in the door and walked out - you didn’t see him - named Steve Wariner. Steve
was very much responsible for me getting back into songwriting.
With “Two Teardrops”?
Well no, before that. In 1992 I’d been away from songwriting for about 10 years, and I’d gotten into television and
done game shows and soap operas and all kinds of stuff on TV. And Steve came out with an old song of mine that was
32 years old at the time, called “The Tips Of My Fingers.” He brought that song back and it went to #1. It was the fifth
time that song had been a #1 record. And it all of a sudden dawned on me, “Wait a minute, I wrote that song in 1960 and
it’s a hit in 1992! I can write that again. I can still write songs like that.” So that’s when it really kinda got in my blood
to see where I could go with this writing thing.
Just to stop you for a minute . . . who were the five #1s? It was you Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Jean Shepard and Steve Wariner.
Five different times. It’s about time for somebody to do it again, ain’t it? [laughs]
So it would seem.
Has that been your biggest copyright?
Worldwide it has, yeah, because of the fact that it has been a hit so many different times, not only here but in countries
all over the world.
Talking about co-writing in general, I don’t know if you heard, but Melanie Howard was recently quoted
talking about some of the new singer-songwriters she’s working with now - Lori McKenna and Mary Gauthier. A
couple of folk-based writers from up north who’ve been enjoying great success, and who write songs on their own
that reflect personal experience. Melanie was saying that that’s what more people in town need to be doing. Do
you think that getting two or three people involved can compromise an idea?
I was always afraid of that. My idea of co-writing early on was: yes, you compromise your idea. You can’t really be as
honest with somebody else there in the room with you; maybe you tend to hold back or something. But I got past that
much quicker than I thought I would.
For years I thought songwriting was this lonely thing you did at three o’clock in the morning with the shades pulled
down. You’d get as miserable as you could get and then sit there and write a sad song. And I did a lot of that. But once
I discovered this co-writing thing . . . I don’t think I would have been able to come back as a writer and have a second
career just writing on my own. I think the co-writing was definitely the answer for me, because the melodies were
changing, they were more intricate in country music. The young writers had much more of a broad set of influences than
I had. My influences were Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb and Webb Pierce and Eddy Arnold - you know, the simple
three-chord country songs. And these kids grew up listening to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and the people that
came from that era and that place, and they had different ideas that they were bringing into country.
And I love to write with people who come at it from a different place than I do. I never wrote with Harlan Howard. I
would like to have, but it was kinda, “Why?” ’Cause Harlan and I wrote a lot of the same kind of thing. It would be like
writing looking in the mirror, you know. But if I write with a young guy like Jon Randall, who’s - I don’t even know
how old he is - but I’m sure I’m 30 years or so older than he is, or more - he comes at it from a whole different place.
And when I can learn from, and absorb from, him and he’s willing to listen and learn and try to absorb from me, that’s
when the magic happens.
I went to Steve Wariner with the idea for “Two Teardrops.” I had written the first two verses and the chorus lyrically,
and I went to him and said, “Steve, I’ve either started one of the best songs I’ve ever written or I’ve gone totally nuts!
It’s a song about two tears having a conversation with each other.” But Steve saw that, he saw the potential in that. He
saw how to take that and put a contemporary melody with it, and then how to take it into that last verse and bring
together the old person dying and and the baby being born at the same time, with the tears of happiness and the tears of
sadness. I don’t think I could have done that by myself. I think I had taken that as far as I could take it by myself. But
then to bring somebody else in and plug them into it, and they bring that fresh idea and that fresh approach - that's why
co-writing works when it works.
How did “Whiskey Lullaby” come about?
I went to the writing session with Jon Randall. We had written several songs prior to “Whiskey Lullaby” - he had
recorded a couple and I’d recorded ’em - but we hadn’t really had a hit together. But we had an appointment to write that
day and I wanted to write a song called “Midnight Cigarette.” I said, “I’ve got an idea for a song about a relationship that
burned out like a cigarette at midnight in an ashtray. You know, it just gets a little dimmer and a little dimmer.” He said,
“I love that thought.” But Jon had been going through some personal things, and he had had some down time and really
kinda crawled in the bottle to work his way through it. He kinda crashed over at a friend’s house for a couple of weeks
and pretty much drank himself into oblivion. And when he came out he was apologising to his friend, and his friend
said, “Aw, don’t worry about it. I’ve put the bottle to my head and pulled the trigger a few times.”
And so Jon is telling me this and I’m telling him about the midnight cigarette, and it’s like, “Whoa, there’s gotta be a
way to put these two together!” So the midnight cigarette is the opening line of course of “Whiskey Lullaby,” because I felt overall his idea was stronger than mine - the bottle to the head and pulling the trigger. I mean that was
one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.
It’s been an amazing hit for you.
You know what, it’s kinda taken on a life of its own. It’s been an amazing thing, because, in the first place, it sat on
the shelf for three-and-a-half years before anybody would touch it. Finally Brad Paisley had the nerve to record it. He
and his producer came up with the idea of making it a duet - we did not write it as a duet - and they came up with the
idea of asking Alison Krauss, which was perfect. And then, the real icing on the cake was the marvellous, wonderful,
incredible video that Ricky Schroeder produced that was like a little mini-movie. A lot of people told me they never
really understood the song until they saw then video. Then when they saw the video: “Oh, that’s what you’re trying to
say.” So the video then took it to a whole different level, and then it just kept going and going. And like I said, the only
way I know to describe it is it just kinda took on a life of its own.
It was nominated for the CMA Song of the Year in 2004, but it didn’t win. It was nominated for the Academy of
Country Music in 2005 and it didn’t win. It took it that extra year, I think, of people really understanding what this song
is and what it’s all about before they said, “Hey, that’s pretty good.” And then they voted it the Song of the Year.
I think of it as “He Stopped Loving Her Today” with a higher body count.
[laughs] Yeah, I told Bobby Braddock, “You didn’t kill but one person in ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ We killed
’em all in ‘Whiskey Lullaby’”!
What do you think it is with songs like both of those? When you think about it it’s an ironic, even morbid, thing
how they’re pleasurable in some way. What do you suppose that process is that runs through a lot of country
music and a lot of old balladry?
Yeah sure, you go all the way back to “The Oxford Girl,” which became “The Knoxville Girl” when we Americanised
Is it just a sense of “better you than me”?
Probably a little of that. I really don’t know. There are some people who are not happy unless they’re sad, but that’s
not a vast majority of people by any means. I think if you take a subject like that - as Brad Paisley said, it’s just your
“typical double-suicide drinkin’ song” [chuckles]but if you do it right, if all the pieces fall in place the right way, I think
people can, if not identify with it, I think they can empathise with it.
I think when that video came out, and the soldier comes home from the war to this beautiful girl who obviously is his
wife and finds her with another guy . . . so many people would say, “Well, that’s probably what I’d do. I’d probably go
out and get drunk. I’d crawl into a bottle.” You know, that would just be such grief to try and overcome.
I think there’s just something in us as humans that we empathise and sympathise with people who find themselves in
situations that we hope we don’t ever find ourselves in.
It’s interesting that this is happening at a time when, as you well know, Nashville is just crazy for “positive
uptempo” happy little songs that will work at radio.
That’s why it sat on the shelf for three-and-a-half years.
I suppose. But on the other hand, how to explain how it became such an instant classic - I mean that song is not
going to go away. And I’m sure at this point in time every publisher in town wishes they had that song. But
they’re probably still gonna go back on Monday and tell their writers to crank out another - well I don't lmow.
[laughs] Turn out another happy little ditty, yeah.
It perplexes me.
It perplexes us too, because as writers . . . you ask 10 writers and nine-and-a-half of them are gonna tell you they’d
rather write a ballad than an uptempo song; they’d rather write something with some meat to it than fluff or cotton
And yet we’re kind of at cross purposes, I think, with radio, because radio wants to play this happy little stuff. What
radio’s trying to do is not necessarily to be pleasant, they just don’t want to be unpleasant. It’s like, “We just don’t want
to be negative. We don’t care whether people tune in, we just don’t want ’em to tune out.”
[laughs] That drives creative people crazy
Was that a Nudie suit you had on tonight?
Well, Manuel made that. Manuel was Nudie’s right hand man. Of course Nudie’s been dead for several years, but
Manuel made most of my stuff when he worked for Nudie anyway.
I notice that all you Opry stalwarts “of a certain age” continue to continue to wear the rhinestones.
Well, you know what, I got into ’em late. When I started in the business I was kinda reluctant to get into ’em, but once
I did, I dunno, there was something about ’em . . . I felt more like a star when I walked onstage.
I had a clothing endorsement deal one time for a couple of years with a major department store, and they wanted me
to wear stuff that people would see me wearing and they’d go in the store and buy it. And it worked well because I’d go
onstage and see 50 people in the audience wearing what I had on! The store loved it but it got to where it bugged me and
I said, “I don’t want to renew this deal when it’s up, because I wanna walk out there wearing something I’m not gonna
see in the front row.”
And you know, there’s some people that put it down, and they don’t want to dress like that, but I can only say for me
it’s the right thing. And when I walk on that stage, and when Porter Wagoner walks on that stage, and when little Jimmy
Dickens walks on that stage, there’s more flash bulbs going off in that audience than for all the rest of them put together.
You know you’re gonna hear some country music.
If they wanna see that then that’s what I’m gonna give ’em.
Do you have family that have followed you into the business?
No. My daughter who’s sitting right over there [indicates daughter Terri, who sits on a dressing room couch]
should’ve been a writer. She’s much better than I am and she’s got a beautiful voice. My kids all love music. They sing
in church and, you know, private things and all, but I think they probably saw the hardships of the business. They know
that everything that glitters in show business is not gold and I think they saw the other side of it, and, while they loved
the music, I don’t think they really were attracted to trying to make a living at it.
Now I have three children [Anderson also has another daughter, Jenni, and a son, Jamey], I’ve now got six grandkids,
and I’m betting one of those grandkids is gonna get the bug [laughs]. One of ’em from somewhere is gonna say, “I may
try what Papaw did!”
It skips a generation.
Well, that wouldn’t make me mad. If it’s something they want to do and it’s something that they’re committed to and
it makes them happy, then more power to ’em.
It seems to be making you very happy.
I’ve been very blessed; I’ve had a wonderful life. Very few regrets. I wrote a song with Dean Dillon that Kenny
Chesney recorded a couple of years ago called, “A Lot Of Things Different”.
And you know, there are . . . sure, you’d do some things different, of course you would; you wouldn’t do everything
the same way. But major, major regrets, I don’t really have any. There are a lot of things I’d go back and change if I could go down that road one more time, but the end result has been pretty incredible.
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