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Gospel Grass...Great Losses...Weird Festivals and Traditions

Jan 17 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

Monday morning, Martin Luther King. And I hope you have a dream too. Here in Nashville as far as the weather? We got lucky. We got a little snow, none of it stuck to the road so we can get out. So a best-case scenario. It was pretty to look at with the fireplace on, but we’re not locked in. Best kind of snowfall.



Started Friday morning with a songwriting appointment with Troy Engle up in Pennsylvania. Troy brought a heck of great gospel-bluegrass idea. It fell into a Merle Travis kind of groove (think “9 Pound Hammer”) and I love that kind of musical groove. So, it did not take us too long to write his thought together. And the great thing about writing with Troy is that he’s such and outstanding musician that we never have to hire anyone to record a demo to pitch to whatever artist we want to. He can do it all from his home, and it sounds like a record every time. And all I have to do is listen to it and look pretty.


So because we finished so quickly, we had a lot of time to talk and laugh and reflect. Troy has been like family to Tom T. Hall and his family, and Tom of course has been in the news a bunch lately, so I got some real personal insight into that with my friend Troy. Both of us are and will forever be fans of the Storyteller, and both of us hate that he’s no longer with us.


Just another one of those days where I realized how lucky I am to get to do what I do.



I was certainly sad to hear that Dallas Frazier passed away this weekend at the age of 82. Gosh. Nobody was more on fire with hit songs than Dallas in the 60’s and 70’s. His song catalog is full of gems like “Elvira”, “Alley Oop” (that was a hit for him) one of my mom’s favorite songs “There Goes My Everything” for the late Jack Green and Elvis and countless others, “All I Have to Offer You Is Me” for Charley Pride, “What’s Your Mama’s Name for Tanya Tucker, “14 Karat Mind” for Gene Watson and on and on and on.


My wife and I got to know Dallas and his wife through a great friend Ginny Foley who recently moved out of Music City and is in Texas now. She sent me a text last night letting me know and has put up a loving tribute video taken in her living room where she routinely invited music folks to come over and have food and share songs. The guitar would pass to folks like Jim Glaser, my friend Karen Wheeler, Jack Green, Glenn Tubb of “Skip a Rope, Jeannie C. Riley who once sang “Harper Valley PTA in that living room AND Dallas Frazier. Dallas always wore a little bowler hat and would sit and listen mostly. But every now and then we’d be treated to him sitting behind a piano and singing one of his classic hits. And you could have heard a pin drop. What an incredibly gentle nice man. And he went out of his ways to say nice things to other writers and folks. He came up to me once and sincerely said how much he loved my funny songs and to keep writing more of those because they were so clever.  Meant the world to me as you can imagine. Just another unreal musical loss in this musical town. RIP Dallas.



And we also lost one of my radio heroes as Ralph Emery passed away. I wanted to be him when I was young. I’d play a show with my band from Missouri that might wrap up at 1 in the morning and on my drive home I always turned on the all-night show with Ralph on 650 AM WSM. I can remember thinking how I’d love to do what he was doing…the all-night radio show interviewing all the country stars that routinely walked into his studio. This was at a now forgotten time when the radio host could play whatever he wanted to play without oversight from a Program Director or a consultant.


It was only later that I found out that career wise you don’t want to do the all-night show as it’s the lowest paying radio gig. And then at the very back end of my radio career, I did several all-night shows on WSM. Surreal.


Ralph had a local early morning TV show here in Nashville that ran for years. I got to be a guest on it when I was a kid. I sang “Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got” and was SO nervous. He was kind to me.


Another time I drove to the studio he was working at. It was upstairs at the WSMV TV station at the time and there was an open door. I walked in with a friend and Ralph let us take a seat and watch. There was a piano in his studio at that time that guests like Marty Robbins would play if he walked in. Little Jimmy Dickens was in studio the night I was there. And I watched in amazement as a new artist waited for Ralph to say, “Let me hear your record”. He played it “off air”, listened, handed it back to the hopeful artist and said basically it wasn’t good enough for him to play yet. He had a lot of power and influence.


Many referred to him as the Johnny Carson of country music, and I think that’s pretty accurate. Gone at the age of 88.  RIP Ralph, and thanks for giving me a dream to chase.



That’s the newest Clint Eastwood movie and my wife and I watched it this weekend. Not great…at least for us. Clint is always great, but the rest of the cast for the most part? Not so much. Dwight Yoakam who I like is in it, but his performance just was not anywhere on the same level as Clint. There were some nice moments, but I couldn’t recommend it to anyone. Go back and watch “The Mule” with Clint. Much better movie.



And yep, I did see a LOT of football over the weekend. The Bengal-Raiders game was fun as was Dallas-Frisco. The rest? Not so much. KC blew out Pittsburgh last night at QB Ben Rothlisberger will retire. Big Ben is an immobile QB. Patrick Mahomes and most of the NFL now have moved on to quarterbacks that can run too. The difference in the two styles was painfully obvious to watch last night. I doubt we see many QB’s in the future that play like Big Ben. That said, what a great run. Thanks for so many great moments Ben.



Australia looks to be loosening up some of their tight restrictions. 77% of the citizens there have had 2 doses of the vaccine. In the US only 62% so far.


800,000 cases of Omicron every day being reported. Those in the know say we have not peaked yet, but a former FDA head says he thinks it will start to fade in a few weeks. The CEO of Pfizer predicts Spring.


Fauci has noted they’re working on getting a “one shot” cures all variants vaccine out there. That would be the Army who’s working on that right now. More folks might roll up their sleeves if they knew one shot only would do the trick safely.


Meanwhile you must be vaccinated to work at Apple now. Same for Starbucks, Netflix, and some others. In France they’ve gone hardcore, and one can’t get into a restaurant, arena, and other venues if you haven’t been vaccinated. No wonder remote working is taking off. One of the other problems that solves is it will allow employers who don’t want to lose valuable employees because they’re not vaccinated to work from home and not have to worry about the workplace environment.



Sara Evans, originally from Booneville, Missouri (close to where I grew up) decided to divorce her husband Jay Barker, a former Alabama and pro QB after he tried to run over her this weekend, He’s been charged with felony assault) She’s fine. But gosh, that sure sounds like a sad country song all by itself, doesn’t it? Pretty sure one knows things are over in a relationship when the spouse tries to leave tread marks on your back.



In fact, it’s the food that seemingly has jumped the highest in price at the grocery store. And everything is going up. But romaine lettuce has soared up 61% partly because some farmers are growing less on purpose. Fertilizer costs are up, there’s a shortage of truck drivers to get the lettuce to market and rather than get stuck with excess, they’re cutting back. (Bad joke coming) How long we have this shortage romaines to be seen. (Warned ya)



I love these things. The latest list from wallst.com is a list of weird unique traditions each state has.


For the states I have lived in.


Illinois has a “No Pants Subway Ride”. Happens every year in Chicago.


Indiana, they pour milk on the top of the Indy 500 winner’s head. Seen that. Got speed? Got milk?


Missouri…my home state has the Testicle Festival in the town of Olean. Uh huh. Think Rocky Mountain Oysters. Nope…never gone. Don’t see me going for a plate of those bad boys ever.


Ohio. The “Doo Dah Parade” in Columbus that lets marchers hit the street and express their opinions on anything.


Tennessee. Cooking in century-old grease in Memphis. Never heard of that. It happens at Dyers Burgers where they have been using the same grease since 1912.


Wisconsin. “Snowshoe Baseball” in Lake Tomahawk. You need snowshoes to run the bases.


Who says we don’t know how to have fun? Here’s the complete list if you want to check what weird is going on in your state.



Ever wish folks didn’t tell us everything they know?  Even if it’s the truth? Seems like I see more of that these days. Heck, some country singers (not naming names) get divorced and then share everything about their failed marriage or personal relationship. Some record songs about all of that.  Celebrities die and reporters share things that are uncomfortable, and I wonder, “gosh, do I really need to know that”? 


Pretty sure that’s why Gerald Smith and I wrote this funny take on all that. I was Glad Gerald recorded, “To The Grave” just to get that thought out there to some. In my mind at least, there will be things I take to the grave, and I don’t think it would hurt for some others to do the same.



The average price of a new car right now is $47,100. At least gas is cheap. Right. I picked a fine time to throw away my air pump for my bicycle.



This tweet from a creative Mom. “My daughter wanted to play doctor’s office, so I turned the AC down to 60 and made her wait in her room for an hour and a half”.



I’m writing with Shay Watson for the first time in a long while. I first got to know Shay when he was in a great duo Watson-Nash with Joe Nash who’s now an accountant in Jacksonville. I wrote several songs that landed on their only duo album including “Bring It On”. Shay has had a lot of success since I’ve last seen him as he’s had tons of his music being played on soap operas, Hallmark, commercials, you name it. So I’m looking forward to catching up with him and creating something new for the first time in a long time.


Have a great Monday!















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