HOT DISH: Wondering About Taylor Swift’s Inspiration for “Mean”

More News About Ronnie Dunn, Frankie Ballard, Vince Gill, Glen Campbell and Others

(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 hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at

I am so nosy! Taylor Swift’s “Mean” has been on the charts for 16 weeks, and I’d still like to know the name of the person who wrote very mean things about her. Regardless of the hurt she felt at the time, it inspired her to write another hit.

“Mean” is a smash. The 21-year-old millionaire is having a blast with her song. Even though she says she went through a tough time writing it — actually feeling powerless — she admits it’s fun seeing the song doing so well.

I’ll tell you what. I’d like to see her give a Swift kick to that heartbreaker’s butt for making her sad, even for even a moment.

Ronnie Dunn Done Did It
Well, Ronnie Dunn done did it — solo. His self-titled debut CD leaped out of the chute and topped Billboard’s country albums chart its first week out. I really hate that the duo of Brooks & Dunn ended, but it’s over.

Releasing his first music as a solo artist, Ronnie’s made a dent. Of course, there are more male vocalists than duos. What the future holds will speak loud and clear. No two ways about it, though: Ronnie is a great singer and a songwriter of note. He’s started off his solo career as a winner.

I Cried Today
The great Glen Campbell and his wife Kim stepped out from the shadows to announce Glen has the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. Sooner or later, something will strike each of us, and somebody will cry. I cried when I heard the news about Glen.

The John Hartford-penned “Gentle on My Mind” set a precedent. I’d say every practicing songwriter has studied the lyrics and given due credit to Glen for choosing that song to record. And every country music fan who was around in the ’70s watched The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour every week on CBS.

As a session musician in L.A., he recorded with Merle Haggard and even Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. How great is that?! And he actually filled in for the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson on one of their tours.

Although he’s a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Glen would never claim to be a country singer. He always said he was a country boy who sings.

Time spent with Tanya Tucker in the late ’70s supplied plenty of fodder for the tabloids, but both Glen and Tanya moved past it — separately. He fought alcoholism and traded it for Christianity in the ’90s.

Frankie Ballard Visits My Kitchen
Frankie Ballard, cute as they come, stopped by my kitchen to appear on CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks. Of course, Mr. Magic — aka Michael McCall, who does makeup and hair for the show — reached back and pulled out his Taylor Swift red lipstick when he learned Frankie was opening shows for the usually red-lipped Taylor. Wait until you see my photos! My, oh, my!

The 27-year-old Frank Robert Ballard IV hails from Battle Creek, Mich. His dad sang Johnny Horton, Merle Haggard and Elvis Presley songs around the house. From age 5, Frankie sang along. His two sisters could not carry a tune.

Frankie never took music seriously, however, and wanted to play professional baseball. He attended Western Michigan University on an athletic scholarship. He never picked up a guitar until he was 18. Making up for lost time, some days he’d practice guitar for eight to 10 hours. It never felt like work while Frankie was studying the playing styles of Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton and country players such as Ricky Skaggs, Carl Perkins and James Burton.

Watching other bands in clubs, Frankie learned quickly that if you want to keep working, you’ve got to sell beer. He learned how to get the most out of a crowd in Michigan, but he knew he had to get to Nashville if he wanted to get something big going. During a visit, he met songwriters Marc Alan Barnett and Walt Aldridge, who became collaborators and friends. Marc produced Electric Hillbilly, a CD for Frankie to sell at his Michigan shows. Up there, Frankie won Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star regional talent contest and opened for the superstar at two arena shows. Aldridge introduced Frankie to Troy Tomlinson, Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s main dude in Nashville, who signed him as a songwriter. This led to his recording contract with Warner Bros., so he moved to Music City.

Aside from opening shows for Taylor, one of Frankie’s most memorable experiences is his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.

“It was incredible enough that I got to play the Grand Ole Opry, but to make my Opry debut at the Ryman Auditorium was the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “My dad had a bunch of old Johnny Cash TV show videos, and all those shows were done at the Ryman. It’s where Hank Williams and all the legends have sung. I’m a huge Ryman fan. My parents and friends came down from Michigan to see me. I’ll never forget it.”

When he visited my house, Frankie was wearing a retro snap shirt — denim blue trimmed with red flowers. You can hardly find them anymore. If you want to see the cute guy from Battle Creek, tune in to CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks on Aug. 6. The movie is one of my all-time favorites, Fried Green Tomatoes, starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates.

Plumb Perfect Vince
Ever since he co-wrote and sang “When I Call Your Name” in 1990, I’ve called him plumb perfect Vince Gill. Because he is. Since then, he’s won 20 Grammys and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

His song “Go Rest High on That Mountain” has been performed at more funerals than he knows. His upcoming album, Guitar Slinger, contains “Threaten Me With Heaven,” a song he co-wrote with his wife Amy Grant, Dillon O’Brian and Will Owsley. After Vince recorded the song, Owsley took his own life.

“In my lifetime, ’Go Rest High on That Mountain’ has been the song that helped a lot of people through their grief,” he said. “I think this one will, in turn, hopefully do the same thing. It’s a powerful, powerful song. I feel it’s the crown jewel of the new record.”

Vince wrote or helped write every song on the album which was recorded in their new home studio. His star will be unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

More News
Paul Overstreet, dad of Glee’s hot Chord Overstreet, has been honored with a trail marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail. Other singers and musicians previously honored include the late Conway Twitty and Jimmie Rodgers as well as the beautiful Faith Hill and the wonderful Marty Stuart.

Keifer Thompson, half of the hit duo Thompson Square, is often seen these days wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering that reads, “JOPLIN, MO.” That’s his hometown. You can wear one too! Just go to Thompson Square’s official website. All donations will be given to the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts.

Edens Edge, an opening act on Brad Paisley’s tour, are huge Alison Krauss fans and would love to sing “Whiskey Lullaby” with Paisley. As you all know, Brad and Alison had a huge hit with the song.

Speaking of Brad, he sent a hefty guy onstage wearing a yellow bow on his head and too-tight shorts fitted below his belly. It was his birthday gift to opening act Blake Shelton during their concert in Indianapolis.

Jason Aldean will participate in the Taco Bell All-Star Celebrity Softball Game on July 10 in Phoenix. Also planning to play are Nick Jonas, Chord Overstreet, American Idol’s Jordin Sparks and Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams.

Kid Rock on July 2
All you fans who love Kid Rock — like my friend, Juanita Taylor, who has his song on her phone — red-letter July 2 on your calendar. That’s the date CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks airs with my very special guest, Kid Rock. Fans will learn more about the Kid than they ever knew. The movie will be Swing Vote, starring Kevin Costner along with Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer and Nathan Lane in a comedy of errors about a presidential election campaign.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1666330″]Potatoes Au Gratin.[/news]