HOT DISH: Amazing Garth

Gretchen's Good Book Tells the Truth as She Knows It

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

I was impressed and surprised when I received Garth Brooks: The Entertainer from Nancy Seltzer, along with a note saying Garth asked her to send me the package. I met Seltzer, Garth’s publicist, last year.

Before I could give a look and listen to the entire five-DVD package, Wal-Mart announced Garth as its all-time top-selling music artist. Wal-Mart reports Garth sold almost 20 million CDs during the first year of his exclusive relationship with the retailer. It’s my understanding 1 million copies of the The Entertainer have been made available, and when they’re gone, that’s it. Garth and Wal-Mart are making sure the new project remains affordable to fans by selling it for only $19.96. Keep in mind, this is the same man who refused to charge fans exorbitant fees for concert tickets. Wasn’t his top asking price in most markets around 20 bucks?

The Entertainer contains more than seven hours of entertainment, including 15 music videos. Three of those music videos have never been seen before. The package also features four concerts, including Garth’s unbelievable performance at New York’s Central Park where almost a million fans turned out.

The word I got from Garth is this limited edition package is for his fans and not for scalpers to buy up for resell.

Thanks, Garth. You are amazing. While I’m at it, you, Trisha and the girls have a Merry Christmas.

Gretchen’s Good Book
Most Southerners like me refer to the Bible as the Good Book. But if somebody writes a good book about country music, its OK to say so. Such is Redneck Woman — Stories From My Life by Gretchen Wilson with Allen Rucker. It’s a good book — a page turner and an easy read. Nothing makes me madder than when some half-famous book writer comes to Nashville with a pocketful of advance money — and they don’t know it was four different Hanks who wrote “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On,” “Family Tradition,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m Moving On.”

Gretchen has not written a Pulitzer Prize winner, but she has sure as glory written the truth as she knows it. That’s what country music is: the truth. There ain’t no way a body could tell lies as big as Gretchen’s truths. I don’t know how in the name of God she lived to reach her teens, her ‘tweens and her 20s, but I’m glad she lived to tell it. Dwellers from outside the city limits sign — where double-wides are king and a new pickup truck is a status symbol — know somebody who’s just like Gretchen. For all the right reasons, I recommend her book.

The Loss of One of Country’s Best Friends
The news of Buddy Killen’s death last week was like splashing cold water on my face. I saw Buddy at the Hall of Fame and Museum in August when the Ray Price exhibit opened. Buddy was visiting with our mutual friend, Bob McLean, and stopped me to talk about my cookbook and TV show. My daughter-in-law snapped a great photo of the three of us with my grandson Jeremy Smith, who proudly works at the Hall of Fame.

Beginning as a bass player, Buddy, the former owner of the mighty Tree Publishing Company, worked in almost every facet of the music business from songwriting and songplugging to producing records. At one point, he owned a recording studio, a travel agency and the world-famed Stock-Yard Restaurant in Nashville. With all his fame, success and celebrity friends, Buddy’s greatest accomplishment was taking care of his two daughters, Robin and Linda. And he did it virtually solo, too, including the cooking.

News and More News
My best Halloween goodie was the official Billy Joe Shaver dress-up kit invitation to be a honky-tonk hero. The cut-out doll, e-mailed to promote Shaver’s Compadre album, The Real Deal, features the singer-songwriter in his one-piece long johns. His complete outfit includes shirt, jacket, jeans, belt, boots, bolo tie, belt, belt buckle, hat, guitar and a huge Kinky for Governor badge.

Congratulations to Renee Bell on her new position of executive vice president of Sony BMG Nashville.

Congratulations to Larry Daniels, Bob Moody and Les Acree, the newest inductees named to the Country Music Radio Hall of Fame. And more congratulations to Joe Ladd and Big John Trimble who will be inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame. All of the inductions take place Feb. 27 during a gala dinner in Nashville.

Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Kenny Rogers are featured in the 2007 celebrity pet calendar from St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation.

Sending condolences and love to Bucky Wilkin on the loss of his mother, singer, songwriter and music publisher Marijohn Wilkin. Her passing leaves a huge void in the Nashville music industry.

The soundtrack to Hannah Montana, the hit Disney TV series starring Miley Cyrus debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Miley is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus.

See this week’s Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Waldorf Salad.