Tuesday night of the Kentucky State Fair will be filled with the fiddle sounds coming from Charlie Daniels and the Charlie Daniels Band. They will be joined by the Kentucky Headhunters in a historical performance that happened 20 years ago. We recently spoke with Charlie Daniels on his golden career of over fifty years in the business and what fans can expect tonight on stage.
Having over 50 years in the music business, what keeps you motivated to keep you motivated?
My love of what I do. I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I look forward to getting stage with my band every night and playing. I love to entertain people and that’s just an on going thing. I never lose my love for it so I just love doing it.
With your upcoming shows at the Kentucky State Fair and Fortnight Festival with the World Equestrian Games, what can fans expect to see at those shows?
First of all, with the Kentucky State Fair, we are repeating something that happened 20 years ago when they had the biggest crowd they ever had with us and the Kentucky Headhunters. The promoter [Triangle Talent’s David Snowden] of the fair wanted to put that together. What fans can expect – with the KY Headhunters a great set and what you can expect from us is of course the songs they hear us doing (“Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Long Hair Country Boy,” etc) and some surprises to keep it interesting.
You have been involved with the Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concerts, with one stop recently in Cincinnati. How did you get involved with that?
I met Sean a long time ago and started on a professional basis doing interviews. They started to do these a few years ago and they asked to play. It was CDB, Darryl Worley, and Sara Evans were the first talent they had. It was just a one time thing and then they decided to make a tour out of it. It started in Jackson, New Jersey, the first part of the month and goes all the weekends this month.
With these concerts benefiting the troops and their families, and your touring for the troops overseas and here, how do you feel connected to them?
What the Freedom Tour is about, the Freedom Foundation wanted to ensure that the children of fallen heroes, those that have given their lives during service to this country, would be able to have a college education. Which is the very least we can do for anybody. The ultimate price for freedom is to make sure that their family is taken care of and their children get a college education. That’s what this is all about. The proceeds and profits go to that.
With your new record, you feature a track, “Iraqi Blues.” What was it like playing that song for the first time for the troops?
The first time I ever played it, I only had one verse. I only had an idea for one and a blues verse. They liked it, so the second time I went back, I added another one. The third time I went over, I wrote another one. I ended up with three verses and when we got to record the album, I realized we just needed another verse to make an album. It’s great to play. We usually play it for the military and when we know we have a big military audience out front. It’s kinda an inside song of when they get back from Iraq. It speaks from a first person experience when they get back. Anybody can understand it, but it’s really a military type thing.
You also redone “What This World Needs Now is a Few More Rednecks,” on the new album. Why did you decide to modernize it and re-release it?
I’ve always liked that song. It’s true in my point of few. I think the world does need a few more rednecks. Sometimes these talking idiots on tv that have never been outside the confines of New York City that draw their experience of what they know about from reading about it and hearing second hand, don’t really know what the heck they are talking about when it comes to common every day people. They act like a redneck is someone running down the road shooting a road sign and throwing beer cans on the side of the road. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a redneck is someone that is a hard worker, God fearing American, patriotic type of a person that makes this world go around; makes this country go around. I like that attitude. I like rednecks. I was raised what I consider a redneck. I even consider myself one. With this song, it was old. It had Gorbachev’s name in it made it dated really. The meaning is still there and the same, but I decided to update a few characters and update it a little bit.
I love it and the original version. I’m a southern farm girl, so I can relate.
I kinda figured that. I love your accent. I love southern accents as they are the best.
Thank you! I know that you have your “Soapbox” on your website for many years and you are not afraid to speak your mind on what comes to your heart. Has there ever been anything that you have said that you later regretted?
Well if I have made a mistake about something, I’m sure I regret it. I don’t recall any time that I said something I regret. I only write from my heart. I’m not a journalist. I’m not a kind of person that uses a lot of action figures and I write about how I feel usually on situations that belong here in America or in the world. I wrote a piece recently about a family in a car in the parking lot putting their luggage in their car and how they are on the move like America is on the move. My wife suggested that I write about something on the move with people, so I wrote a little piece about that. Then I get into the serious stuff like politics and the way I feel about national situations, about war and our military, a lot of things that I have deep feelings about.
If I do write something wrong, I would be glad to apologize for it if I’m wrong about it. But it would be something I wasn’t aware that I was wrong about. I did a disposition one time and the lawyer told me “watch out, they are going to try to trip you up and do this, that.” I told him that I don’t have anything to worry about because I know I’m telling the truth. When you are telling the truth, it comes out the same way every time – one hundred times, one time, fifty times, so basically any time I speak the truth from my heart. If I made a mistake, I be glad to admit it. I try to talk about things I have deep feelings about and I usually don’t have a whole lot to apologize about.
Recently one of the big issues today is the BP oil spill down in the Gulf. If you were President, what would you changed with the whole situation going on down south?
The first thing I would have done was have gotten help from every corner of the world that was available. I would have gotten my people together with anybody that had an idea. We would have seen what would have worked. Whatever works, we’re going to use. Whatever don’t work, you’re going to go home.
We would have tried out what works and not way so dang long. It took forever to get any action on this thing. I personally, I will be honest with you – we have a President and an administration that has no idea what they’re doing. I think they’re lost. I don’t think they know what they’re doing as far as the economy is concerned. I don’t think they know what they’re doing in the Gulf, certainly not the oil spill or anything down there. Now you can’t string a President as a man of all seasons in everything in the world and take care of everything in the world, but knowing he’s going to be that way you’re going to surround yourself with experience. This man has surrounded himself with a bunch of idiots that have college degrees. He didn’t surround himself with experience. People knocked Dick Chaney but his people have had experience on the national stage. People who know what’s going on and been there, done that. The President doesn’t have any of those kind of people. He’s got a bunch of guys that have idea. They don’t know how to run a business. They don’t know what running a business is like, having a payroll and more. They are out spending other people’s money and some of his people are not very reputable. When they are faced with a situation, they come up with all this stupid stuff.
I mean, what they are doing to the economy is like a story I once heard. There was a pair of guys who were selling watermelons. They were buying them for a dollar and a half. They were trucking them up and selling them for a dollar and a half. They come to the realitazation that they were not making any money. They realized that they needed to do something and decided to get a bigger truck. That’s what the government keeps doing. Instead of actually attacking the problem, like you can’t buy a watermelon for a dollar and a half and transport 100 miles to sell it for a dollar and a half, you can’t keep doing that; they’ll just buy another truck. It’s not working. I wish it was working and that this country was back on its feet back on the trail of prosperity. But it’s not working, it’s never going to work. It’s been tried in the world what’s called socialism. It does not work, never has worked and it just takes our country down the drain. It’s taken every country that has experimented with socialism down the drain. You cannot have a government the size of one that Barack Obama had and then he wants and it succeed. It may take some years but it’s going to fall. It’s going to get so top heavy after a while and you have so many people on assignments and so few people paying them that it just don’t work.
So I’m saying that give me somebody whose got some common sense. Give me somebody that knows your kin. If you look at anybody, even a farmer in a field, he knows that if you can’t get more out of your crop than you put in or you’ll go broke. Give me someone like that.
Our system was never designed for career politicians. It is very obvious that our forefathers designed our political system for someone to serve a certain number of terms and go home. Then someone that is fresh off the street that knows what’s going on out here now, not 20 years ago when someone was elected. Not four years ago when some daughter of some old guy that has no business being there and who only goes home is during election time. It’s not meant for that. It’s meant for someone to go “Hey, listen to me. I’ve got an idea of what’s going on. I’ve met people down in the Gulf that had ideas of getting the oil out of the water.” You don’t give anyone credit that has any sense besides yourself when you’re electoral. Unfortunately we are cursed with a capital full of those right now.
Just like with the unemployment benefits that keep getting extended. Some have said that they get paid higher on unemployment than most jobs available, so they stopped looking.
That’s what these people don’t understand, you can’t expect your way out of trouble. There is no way you can do it. It’s not going to work. I just marvel at how long they give these people before they finally realize that these guys are ruining our country.
In getting back to music, who do you think in today’s country music artists are going to be capable of filling not only your shoes, but those legends that have passed away such as Vern Gosdin, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty, etc?
Whoever wants it the worst. Whoever is willing to stay with it every day when you do write songs, keep recording, keep doing it by entertaining people. Whoever learns to entertain people. If you don’t learn to entertain people, you’re not going to last long in this business. When the records are gone, you’re gone too. If you learn to entertain people, people will come because you entertain them.
Becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry, what other goals do you have set in your life?
I still would like to have every album platinum and every show sold out. That would be wonderful.
Do you plan on slowing down any time soon?
Well I have slowed down some already. I do about 90-100 shows this year. I use to do about 200 a year. When you add about 10-12 Opry performances and a little bit of recording, it keeps you pretty busy. I’m pretty comfortable with what we’re doing right now. I don’t see any drastic slowing down the next few years.
Jessica Bray is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.