Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!
2020 hasn’t been kind to the music business.
First, corona took away Joe “I’m a Pickup Man” Diffie.
That was followed by the loss of an all-time favorite, John Prine. I’d actually seen Prine in his prime at Mud Island around 1983 or so then a few years later when I was living in Nashville, he came on stage during a Writer’s Night and sang a few songs.
That was magical.
But this week, Charlie Daniels took his final bow and died from complications from a stroke. The man in the big white Stetson and long beard played a fiddle meaner than anybody I’ve ever seen. My introduction to Charlie Daniels came through an eight-track player in my oldest brother John’s truck. His song the Uneasy Rider seeped into my soul though I was never much of a country music fan. Charlie’s saga was of driving to the West Coast when he got a flat tire in Jackson, Mississippi.
The long-haired country boy soon comes face to face with some local redneck population who have a problem with his bumper stickers and long hair. Charlie finds a way through it all and the story painted by the masterful fiddle player was sheer poetry. I don’t think a music video could have ever done it justice the way his words and rhythm did.
Charlie was simply a master musician, performer and entertainer. I never got to see him in person or on the streets of Nashville but many did. I had no idea of the large shadow he cast over the music business. Before he held the spotlight on his own, he was a studio musician in Nashville and played on three Bob Dylan recordings. He also backed up Ringo Starr and Leonard Cohen in studio.
I’d imagine those sessions among the three were fun and legendary. His more than 60-year career spanned every musical genre it seems.
Most folks will call out his “Devil Went Down to Georgia” that topped the country charts in 1979 and even went to number three on Billboard’s Top 100. His songs always told a colorful story. He was much more than that one song.
Enshrined in several Hall of Fames including the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, his voice and wit were popular on TV.
With two appearances on the cartoon King of the Hill as himself, he also was a part of Veggie Tales.
And if you look closely, he’s in the backup band for Hank Williams Jr.’s Monday Night Football intros back in 2006. Heck, even Elvis recorded one of his songs back in 1964, “It Hurts Me.”
More than a fiddle player, much more. The North Carolina native made his mark on the music industry in many ways. But I’ll always know him as the colorful guy driving to LA by Omaha…Rest in peace, Uneasy Rider.