Interview CHARLIE DANIELS
Hello CHARLIE, it makes few years that we haven’t had the opportunity interview you for Road to Jacksonville, webzine dedicated for 15 years to the rock coming from the South of the USA, last time it was about the release of your book Ain’t No Rag, Freedom, Family and Flag.
RTJ : In ten years, do you think that the situation improved ?
Charlie Daniels : Actually I don't think it's improved, nor shows any signs of doing so soon.
RTJ : I had the opportunity to see you in concert in 1996, at Eurodisney Paris, do you remember this concert ?
There was also Confederate Railroad who came but Travis Tritt had cancelled, do you think that you will come back in France or in Europe despite the attack danger ?
Charlie Daniels : I remember the concert and enjoyed playing our music for the French people and yes we would not hesitate to come back to France.
RTJ : Have you a word to say about the attacks of the13 november in Paris ?
Charlie Daniels : We watched in horror as the scene unfolded and now we all look for ways to keep it from happening again.
It's so hard to imagine that happening in the Paris I remember.
RTJ : Let’s speak about music, you released a DVD Live at Billy Bob’s Texas, recorded in February 2015, can you tell us more about this concert ?
Charlie Daniels : It is a live stage performance that we did at Billy Bobs, just straight ahead performance as it rolls off the stage when CDB plays a concert.
RTJ : We just learned the decease of Merle Haggard, did you have the opportunity to share the stage with him ?
Charlie Daniels : We did play a couple of shows with Merle and do a tribute to him in our show now.
RTJ : We were all shocked to learn Joel Taz Di Gregorio’s death, do you have some words to say about him ?
Charlie Daniels : Taz was with me for forty years ,a friend who stuck by me through thick and thin. One day he was there and the next day he wasn't and it was a hard pill to swallow. He left an indelible mark on our music.
RTJ : How did you proceed when you recorded together ?
Charlie Daniels : We have our own studio who nobody but us uses, it stays set up for us and we are very comfortable in it which gives us a relaxed atmosphere to work in.
It is also well off the beaten path and privacy is not a problem.
RTJ : Does it still exist tunes that he wrote and still to record ?
Charlie Daniels : I just recorded one of Taz's tunes called "you cant beat the damned old machine".
So yes there are unrecorded material of his around.
RTJ : You organized in 1974 the Volunteer Jam in Nashville, do you have some anecdotes about this first version ?
Charlie Daniels : It was only supposed to be a one time thing but the show took on a life of its own and we continued doing it. We will do the 42 Anniversary at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville this November 30.
RTJ : At the time of the second version, we saw Grinderwitch of the missing Dru Lombar. This band was sublime. Do you know if the whole performance of the band was filmed ?
Charlie Daniels : I don't recall haven't watched that film in a long time.
RTJ : The festival saw the light of the day again those two last year, will they be other occasions ?
Yes answer above.
RTJ : What are your projects, have you a new studio record ready to be released ? If you have, where and how did you record it and with who ?
Charlie Daniels : We are releasing an album called Nighthawk in the next few weeks ,it is an album of cowboy songs.
RTJ : A question I often ask, will we have someday the chance to get a video box set collecting some videos of your TV appearances ?
Charlie Daniels : It's possible.
RTJ : Some questions I always had in my mind : are the songs "Uneasy Rider" and "Birmingham Blues" autobiographical?
Charlie Daniels : No they are just figments of my imagination.
RTJ : Did you live like the "Long haired country boy" of your song? Why did you modify the lyrics of the first verse of this tune?
Some of your songs are absolute poems. Do you consider yourself as a poet?
Charlie Daniels : I don't live a long haired country boy life, I changed the lyrics because of my Christian beliefs and I have written quite a bit of poetry so I guess I'm a poet
RTJ : Multi-instrumentalist, you played with an incalculable number of stars and you excel in every style (rock, blues, country, bluegrass). Some people consider you as a cornerstone of American music. Do you agree ?
Charlie Daniels : It's difficult for me to see myself in that light, there are so many players I consider to be so much better than I am.
RTJ : For some people, you are the Godfather of the Southern Rock, the one who showed the way to many bands (Lynyrd Skynyrd in particular), while some other ally yourself with the country music. What is your mind about it?
Charlie Daniels : I don't claim allegiance to any one genre of music, we play so many different kinds,
I don't deserve the godfather title, Duane Allman was there long before I was and Skynyrd and Tucker
had hit records before CDB did.
RTJ : It seems that you came in France in the 70's to sing alone with your guitar. Is it true?
Charlie Daniels : No I've always had the band with me, the only other time I played in France was when I was part of Leonard Cohen's band and we played a couple of dates in France.
RTJ : Tommy Crain was a fabulous guitarist. Rumor has it that he would have leaved the CDB to help his woman in her horse breeding business. Can you confirm this version or was there another reason to his departure?
Charlie Daniels : Tommy and myself remained good friends after he left the band. I think Tommy just got tired of the road and wanted to spend more time at home.
He didn't stop playing, he continued with his music with his brother Billy and some other bands.
He was one of the finest guitar players I've ever had the honor of playing with.
RTJ : Have you some particular anecdotes about Ronnie Van Zant, Toy Caldwell and Tommy Crain?
Charlie Daniels : Not really, we put a lot of time in together on the road and had lots of experiences but none come to mind at the moment.
RTJ : Have you particular memories about the sessions with Bob Dylan?
Charlie Daniels : I remember that when I first heard the material for Nashville Skyline it was pretty obvious it was going to be a landmark album.
RTJ : When you recorded the album "The legend of Jesse James", were Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris here in the studio with you or were the vocals recorded apart? Have you some anecdotes about this session?
Charlie Daniels : No singers were in the studio but me, I did my part solo at a studio in LA.
RTJ : In 1980, you came in Europe to play at the Rockpalast festival in Germany, do you remember this concert, have you some anecdotes about this tour ?
Charlie Daniels : That's been a long time ago and specifics are hard to recall.
RTJ : Few bands appear, Blackberry Smoke seems to have made a good start toward the success, did you have the opportunity to bump into them, what do you think of them ?
Charlie Daniels : I think Blackberry Smoke is a great band and will have a long successful run.
RTJ : Last and traditional question here, if you have to stay on a desert island, what are the five records that you would take with you ?
Charlie Daniels :
Fillmore East. Allman Brothers
Wallflowers first album
Phases and Stages. Willie Nelson
Frank Sinatra's greatest hits
An album containing The 1812 Overture, Beethoven's Third Symphony and some Debussy