If you don’t think Charlie Daniels is “The Man,” listen up. Here’s what two former Presidents of the United States have said about the country icon: Jimmy Carter, “Let there be Charlie Daniels!” Gerald Ford, “His love of music is only surpassed by his love of people, especially American people.”
At age 61, Daniels isn’t about to kick back in his rocking chair. He still tours the world, performing 200 gigs a year. And he’s currently releasing the first complete fiddle album in his career, Fiddle Fire. The new CD is on his own label, Blue Hat Records. Multi-platinum albums and hit tunes on more than one chart have kept the fiddlin’ fanatic busy since his first recordings.
Having his own label has taught the music veteran something. “It’s very expensive, I’ll tell you that! We did one release already, a blues release, but this is our first full-fledged album that we’ve done that we have a single off of. Of course, we have promotion people, video people, a publicist, we have a campaign laid out to work the record.
“Basically what this company is all about is, it’s an outlet for me to do what I feel like I should be doing, rather than what somebody else wants me to do. I don’t fit very well in the Nashville picture right now. It’s very much youth-oriented. It’s very much dance-oriented. There’s a lot of good music coming out, but I don’t fit in it. I’m kind of a square peg in a round hole.”
This breath of fresh air for Charlie is a welcome change, since Music City isn’t what it was when he rolled into town in the late ’60s. The town has lost some of its small-town atmosphere. These days, hundreds more people work on Music Row. “It used to be such a small industry, you knew everybody basically. It’s not quite that way anymore, but it’s still probably of all the music scenes that exist in the country, I think this is still probably the best.”
Charlie E. Daniels was born October 28, 1936 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Music influenced the young “Tar Heel” native early on, as folks like Elvis trail-blazed a path for him to follow. Signed by Capitol in 1970, he began a career of unforgettable hits like “Long-Haired Country Boy,” “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” and “The South’s Gonna Do It.”
The familiar cowboy hat and gray beard have long been symbols of Daniels. However, the headgear can sometimes be misleading. Non-cowboy-hat-wearing folks automatically think he’s from Texas. He’s quick to point out he’s a Carolina boy living in Tennessee. As for the beard, it has been a part of his face since the first record deal.
Home for the past 21 years has been a farm in the Nashville suburb of Mt. Juliet. He and wife Hazel share 350 acres with quarter horses and Corriente cattle, a small breed used in rodeos. Although he really enjoys farm life, the singer admits he doesn’t have enough time to play around with it.
That’s because he’s in love with his family and job. “If I didn’t love what I was doing, if I didn’t like being a musician and entertainer, I would probably start slowing down some. But I love what I do. I get on stage and it’s where I feel like I belong. It’s about the only time in my life I really feel like I know what I’m doing. So, I’m gonna be here for awhile– the good Lord willing. Long as it’s His will for me to be entertaining, if people want to hear me I’ll keep at it.”
Charlie admits he isn’t the world’s biggest fan of television. The outspoken veteran says there’s very little on the small screen. So what does he do to relax at home? Spy novels and fiction keep his mind occupied. Computers are also slowly becoming a hobby for him. He has a very nice Website at www.charliedaniels.com (Hope you enjoy www.country.com, Mr. Daniels). On his website, one of the more interesting features is the “Soapbox.” It features Charlie’s opinions on everything from the environment, New York City and his country.
“There’s a lot wrong with America, I’d be the first one to admit that. But with all our faults and with all the problems that we have, I still can’t imagine any other place I’d ever want to live besides America. I think we have more freedoms and more opportunities in this country than any other country in the world. I just wish we could turn our sight inward and forget about China and Bosnia and some of these other places and clean up some of the problems we’ve got, rather than trying to go around and police the rest of the world. We’ve got so much to do in this country, let’s take care of ourselves–get ourselves straightened out, then help the rest of the world.”
Sounds like a future governor or president, right? Wrong he says. He admits that people couldn’t put up with him because he’s too outspoken. Also, he says he couldn’t begin to tell lies to people.
Well, this is no lie. Charlie’s new album is fantastic. Known for his unique fiddle style, this CD showcases that talent, as well as some great singing. Lee Roy Parnell and Ray Benson guest on the first single, “Texas.” Other notable tunes on Fiddle Fire include remakes of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Boogie Woogie Fiddle Country Blues” and “The South’s Gonna Do It.”
Retirement is not in the vocabulary of Charlie Daniels. In fact, his flame is burning brighter than ever with work like Fiddle Fire. He said it all twenty years ago in one of his songs, “I done told you once you son of a gun, I’m the best that’s ever been.”