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Early Christmas...Another Charley Story...Making Toys

Dec 16 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

Wednesday…9 days until the big guy tries to squeeze down the Chimney wearing his beard…and a mask. And I’m actually sitting here wondering this morning, who exactly are the people that roast chestnuts on an open fire?


Low 40’s in Nashville today…out east is an entirely different story with a ton of snow on the way. I have a feeling that near where my brother Gary and his wife Kay live in Pennsylvania that the Amish are putting snow tires on their buggies right now.



I wrote with Tim Stafford over in Knoxville who just put out a new bluegrass CD. He was running 20 minutes late because he had to mail out some of those CD’s which meant standing in line at the post office for an hour or more. Folks, not a good time to have mail anything.  Once he got back in pocket though we did right a hardcore traditional sounding bluegrass tune together to add to the catalog. Tim is such a great guitar player than I can record a rough tape of the song and send it to him, and then he can send it back to me with him playing the song and it always sounds so much better. Sigh. Tim and his family are getting ready to move to a new home…one they’ve built on a gorgeous plot of land with a Smoky Mountain view to die for. Congrats and Merry Merry to that my friend.  Here’s to more creative time in the New Year straight ahead.



My daughter Heather and her Army husband Casey came down from Fort Campbell last night to have dinner and do some early Christmas gift exchanges. Speaking of moving. They’ll be off to their new home in just a few weeks now as Casey will begin flight training. With any luck whatsoever someday I’ll have a personal pilot who can land the chopper right here on the Whyte House lawn to take me where I need to go.  Right. These days every bit of time we get to spend with them is fun and precious.



I did get a laugh yesterday when a gift arrived from one of my “Hits & Grins” partner’s Victoria Venier and her husband Matt. Two bottles of Pinot. BUT, because Victoria knows I’m not much of a cork sniffer…she also sent to six packs of beer and then a note that said, “Enjoy your 12 days of Christmas”.   Hey, I’m supposed to be the funny one!  I might have to write a song titled “12 Bottles of Christmas”.


 I told her it was sort of like she gave me an alcohol advent calendar.



Speaking of Fort Campbell…they had to close two schools there because they don’t have enough staff during Covid times to keep the doors open for the kids.


So by now, does anyone breathing not know of folks and loved ones who have had Covid 19?  Or maybe you’ve had it yourself? We found out yesterday some dear friends of our…lifelong friends have as does their entire family pretty much.  I’m certainly wishing them a speedy recovery this morning.


The optimistic news is that Moderna’s vaccine is also approved with a 94% safe label on it which should mean more folks will be able to get a shot if they want sooner than later. And this was great to see. A 107-year-old woman in Minnesota just beat Covid.


AND…the first over the counter Covid test was just approved by the FDA. It will cost you about $30 bucks to take one home and find out if you’re positive or negative.



I love a lot of the artists in the Americana Genre. Yesterday they had their awards show and the now late John Prine was named Artist of the Year.  John lost his life to Covid complications this year.  John never wrote complicated melodies. But they are always catchy, memorable, and then you listened to those lyrics!  Hard to pick a favorite song too but for today…I’m listening again to “That’s The Way The World Goes Round”.


The Americana “SONG OF THE YEAR” went to the quartet of talented women “The Highwomen” that features Brandi Carlisle, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires and their song “Crowded Table”. Congrats to them too.


The Americana movement is full of gifted folks who have shown that one can make a great living writing, recording and playing music that never makes it onto the mainstream charts. And that ain’t a bad thing. It’s proof that truly great music will find an audience.



How about the guy in Virginia who bought 160 tickets this month for the Virginia Lottery Pick 4 game and used the same set of numbers on every single ticket? He won $800,000. Kwame Cross said he saw an address on a TV show and just had a feeling. I’ll be paying more attention now to addresses on TV shows.



A lot of folks have been sharing their memories of country great Charley Pride who passed with Covid complications a few days ago. I’m going to share one here that grabbed my attention from the former head of RCA Records here in Nashville Joe Galante


Former Sony/Nashville Chairman Joe Galante: [Ed. Note: Pride’s “Burgers And Fries” was the first No. 1 worked by Galante when he headed RCA promotion in the late ‘70s.] Charley was in town recording, so [VP/Marketing] Dave Wheeler and I took him to lunch. Now, I grew up in New York City and hadn’t really experienced much of the south in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so I asked Charley what it was like being in the business at that time. Around 1970, he’d just had his third No. 1 and was headed from Nashville to Mississippi for a meeting. At some point, he and wife Rozene pulled over to use the restroom. He went into the store and there were no signs, but as he was about to enter one, the clerk said, “Where the fuck are you going?” Charley told him who he was, and the guy said, “I don’t care who the fuck you are, you’re not going to use this restroom.” Charley told us a number of similar stories that had a huge impact on me. I was in my twenties, and it was the first time in my life I knew someone who had gone through that. I had no idea what he had endured and that he continued to be treated that way even though he had become a star. Fast forward to 2008 when Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley and Charley were invited to play for President Obama shortly after his election. Onstage, Charley was choked-up beyond belief. He looked at the President and First Lady and said to them, “I never thought that in my lifetime I would ever see this day.” After the performance, President Obama hugged Charley. It was emotional. From being a “colored” man who could not use the store restroom to being embraced by a Black man who was President of the United States and calling Charley “an inspiration” – it was an incredible moment. 



Forbes just released the list of highest paid celebrities for 2020. In at #1…with nobody else really close was Kylie Jenner of the Kardashian clan who made 590 MILLION in 2020. What pandemic?  In second was her current brother-in-law Kanye West who raked in 170 million. Others in the top 10 included LeBron James, Howard Stern, Tyler Perry, Dwayne the Rock Johnson and others.



That would be a name that’s hard to pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo. He plays basketball AND he just signed an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks for 228 MILLION over a five-year contract. Wow.


I lived and worked in Milwaukee for six years. I not only went to several games (and they were always horrible) but I worked a few games. Went into the locker room and interviewed the likes of Glenn Robinson and Jon Barry. For the record…it was intimidating. You had to hold our mic up real high because of what giants those guys are. And for the most part?  They’re not happy to have to sit and talk to you…or at least it never appeared that way to me. Kind of a “I've got to do this” attitude way too much of the time. So I didn’t stick with that very long as it just wasn’t fun for me.  However, I am glad to see that team competitive for the first time in a long long long time. Not since a couple of guys named Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Oscar Robertson played for them.



Mechanics say they find the strangest things in cars that customers leave them to fix or work on. In England mechanics mentioned these two that caught my attention. Edible undies and one customer actually left a miniature goat in his back seat. Too bad that both of them weren’t left in the same car as the goat surely would have eaten the edible undies. Wonder if some of those are gluten free undies by now?



Eddy Goldfarb is 98 years young. You may not know that name off the top of your head but you surely know some of the hundreds of toys he’s invented over the years…like those talking teeth. His daughter wanted to brag about her Dad so she produced a short film titled, “Eddy’s World”. Good for her. No wonder he’s lived so long…making toys will keep you young.



“Girl Admits To Santa She’s Naughty, Then Demands Air Pods And A Live Panda”. No word on what Santa said about that possibility.



I’ll be in the middle of two talented women and friends this morning on my computer as I join Linda Davis and Irene Kelley.  This will be the first time the three of us have written together. I’ve written with both a lot, and tour some with Linda of course and her husband Lang Scott in our “Evening in The Round” trio. Linda just played a theatre show in Indiana over the weekend with Reba’s sister Susie…so we’re doing the right thing and doing that social distance writing on our Macs and Microsofts.  Irene and Linda were record label mates at one time so they’ll have a chance to share some memories and stories I’m betting I’ve not heard yet before we try to create something together.  I’m certainly looking forward to that.


Have a great Wednesday!

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