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An Opry Song...Charley Pride...Johnny Bench

Dec 14 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

And Monday morning just rolled around with some early morning rain and cooler temps today. 41 the high here in Twang Town after being in the 60’s over the weekend. It looks like we’ll have pretty warm temperatures and NO SNOW over Christmas.


I’ve lived in the South long enough now that snow really doesn’t appeal to me. If I’m going to see a pile of white stuff, I’d rather it be the sand like the kind I get to dip my toes in some down in Gulf Shores.


My long time beach- buddy Brent Burns and I got to talking about that one day and put some of that thought into this song “The Sand Is Getting Heavy in My Shoes”.



Mine started Friday afternoon writing a song with some history laced through it with the bluegrass duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge who just sang at the Grand Ole Opry for a big bluegrass celebration there and will be back on that stage Christmas Day itself for a special show. So, knowing how thrilled they are to get to step on that iconic stage and sing their songs I presented them an idea about how it must feel to stand in and on that circle in the middle of the stage where so many of their heroes have been before them. They loved the idea and we bore down and wrote a song that has some Opry history in it, and it has some of them in it too. For those that may not know, when the Opry moved from the Ryman to the new Opry House, they cut out a chunk of wood from the Ryman stage and with Roy Acuff helping, they placed a circle of it in the middle where all the singers stand when they sing on the Opry. It certainly was fun researching that kind of history and using some of that in this new song we created on Friday.



Another legend gone in 2020. Covid complications took the life of 86-year-old Charley Pride. I feel blessed to have interviewed him. I got to play his first single and album on the air when I was a kid at KPCR Radio in Bowling Green, Missouri before radio knew he was a black man. I sang many of his songs with my band through the years. Who doesn't like Charley Pride?


I shared a couple of personal stories on my Facebook page…one that talks about a baseball conversation we had on air as Charley was a danged good ballplayer…played organized ball…and owned a piece of the Texas Rangers franchise.


My friend Billy Yates who’s show I’ve done in Branson multiple times produced the last Charley Pride album and has great stories he shares about that. He also recorded an album that’s not been finished yet completely but will be. Over the weekend Billy shared a video of the last single Charlie recorded with a video. And it’s a song I heard Billy sing on stage in Branson more than once. Check that out and hear how great Charlie was still singing in his 80’s “Seems I’m Always Standing in My Way”.


Someone else posted a picture on their Facebook that was there with hundreds and hundreds more posts from folks Charley fans. He must have posed for a million pictures in his lifetime. But this one guy showed a picture of himself and his wife with Charley backstage at the Opry one night and the guy asks Charley, “What does it feel like to be a legend”?  And Charley replied, “You have to be dead to be a legend. That makes me a living legend”.  Yes, he was. And now he truly is a legend. RIP.



Well…the vaccine is being shipped as I blog this morning. How soon will folks like me be able to roll up our sleeves?  Waiting to hear.


Pfizer and Moderna could make as much as 32 BILLION off their vaccines. If it saves the world it will be worth every penny.


An optimistic note. A CEO of a big Biotech company said over the weekend he believes we could have the virus under control by summer. Bill Gates is thinking late summer for some kind of half normalcy and that we’ll still be at some risk even into early 2022.


There won’t be many if any Office Parties this year. Will anyone really miss those?  Me?  Not so much. Here’s the funniest office party song I know from an old radio acquaintance out in Seattle Bob Rivers. Some truth tucked inside this "The Christmas Party Song".



Apparently UPHILL skiing is becoming popular. UPHILL!  Uh…no thanks. I can’t imagine how un-fun trying to ski up a hill would be for me. I prefer to take the ski lift up and then let gravity do its thing.


I was in Steamboat Springs a bunch of years ago in the summer. Gorgeous place. I was playing a Festival with the great guitar player and producer Brent Rowan and country artist Gary Morris. I got there a day early, so I rented a bike and took it up to the top of the mountain with a Gondola’s help and then biked back down the mountain. Unreal scenery of course. But about halfway down I pass some bikers riding UP the dang mountain! UP! Yes…they were in much better shape than me but my face was not a deep red and I wasn’t huffing and puffing. Go down boys and girls…it’s more fun.



About May of next year they’re expecting about a billion Cicadas to show up and start making the racket they always do when those Brood X Cicadas show up as they do once in every 17 years. I could do with them just staying buried. Nothing like hearing a constant crunch under my tennis shoes when I’m walking down the driveway to get the mail.



The Cleveland Indians will change their name they’ve had for 105 years for all the reasons you know. And the new name? A lot of them being tossed around but the Cleveland Plain Dealer had readers vote on a few and “Spiders” was their favorite. We’ll see.


My ole High School in Elsberry, Missouri?  Wonder if they will have to change their name too. I played basketball, baseball, ran track as an Elsberry Indian.  Going to have to do some checking there.



The greatest catcher of all time Johnny Bench got quite the surprise a few days ago. Johnny didn’t want his kids fighting over his possessions when he died so he put up a ton of his memorabilia at auction. Priceless stuff full of memories for him. It raised 2 million dollars. And one guy, a rich real estate friend and fan of Johnny’s bought ALL of it.  And THEN…he gave all of it back to Johnny Bench…and Johnny cried.


Hard to believe but as great as Johnny was in his entire baseball career, he made a total of 2.2 million dollars. He played just before salaries went through the roof for players of his caliber. So in a few hours he made as much as he made playing baseball for the Reds all those years.


I got to interview him a couple of times.  He’s a HUGE country music fan, used to sing country songs, and he knew his stuff about country music. You can imagine what a thrill it was for me to be around him just a little bit and hear him tell stories. And he listened to our show. I found that out in a cool way too. I was at an upscale restaurant with a lot of media celebrities at the time in Cincinnati with my on-air partner Amanda Orlando at a press conference that was announcing a charity the restaurant owner Jeff Ruby was a part of.  Johnny walked up and I shook his hand and said, “Hey Johnny I’m” …and then he hugged me and said, “I know who you are”. He told both of us how much he enjoyed listening to our show. Pretty much died and went to baseball heaven right there.



I’ve often kicked myself for throwing away my baseball cards that I had in a shoebox when I was young. Can’t imagine what some of those cards from that era might be worth today. And it’s not just baseball cards.  Get this.  Hockey great Wayne Gretzky just had his rookie card sell at auction for 1.29 MILLION!  I’m telling my daughter to NEVER throw anything away.



The US House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana. And they also voted to expunge the criminal records of anyone convicted of MJ offenses.  It was just a matter of time. You’re not going to stop folks who want to get high to stop. Prohibition could not stop drinking. Might as well tax vice and at least make some money off it to go towards projects that could use the money boost. 


And I will say, considering the climate and temperatures of politicians these days?  Wouldn’t hurt my feelings if some of those folks lit one up and just chilled a bit. You never see Willie screaming or being angry. Just saying.



Survey says, 20% of Americans have reportedly gotten hurt while setting up their Christmas tree in 2020. I’m betting ladders came into play some. And why doesn’t Lowes or Home Depot offer up Clark Griswold ladders for sale? No-one has made a ladder more famous than ole Clark.



I think that might apply to both Dolly and Willie. At the age of 75 Dolly Parton has announced a huge tour in those big venues that you know she’s going to fill up. Dolly admits to getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning and that she gets more done at that time of day than any other. I’m with her. Same way for me. Something about the quiet sets a creative brain free it seems.


And then Willie has a new album coming out full of great Frank Sinatra songs that’s just so good. Here’s a little tease of what’s to come with this Sinatra song that may not be as well-known as “That’s Life” and Wee Small Hours of the Morning” that will also be included on the album. This song is “Cottage for Sale”.


Yep…those two are just getting better and better somehow.




Admission. I suck at math. Never interested me. Thank God we live in an ear of calculators and Siri where I can get my math problems answered easily and without paper and pencil. There was a headline this morning that reads, “Can You Pass This 9th Grade Algebra Test”. I did not have to click on the article to answer, “uh…no I can’t”. I think I got a D in High School out of pity from the teacher who surely must have seen me daydreaming in that class every time I was in it.



I had a cancellation today so I’m going to try and enjoy the open day.


Have a great Monday!






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