Few country stars can get an army of their brethren together for a “Waffle House Christmas.”
Bill Anderson is one of them, and he’s having a viral holiday season with his new video co-starring Kid Rock, Tanya Tucker, Gretchen Wilson, Jeannie Seely, Trick Pony’s Ira Dean and more.
At age 81, Anderson says he’ll never stop working. At the time of our CMT.com interview with the song’s co-writers Erin Enderlin and Alex Kline, Anderson had just gotten out of a songwriting appointment and a recording session with Seely.
It’s hard to remember a time when Anderson wasn’t part of the country music experience. He’s written songs that have ranked on the charts for the last seven decades. He says what keeps him going is feeling that same hunger he’s felt since he first started pursuing music professionally.
“I’m always working on something,” Anderson says. “You just never know what might happen on a particular day. Right now, it’s a very calm day, and the phone could ring with news telling you the biggest act in the world just cut one of your songs or they just put a song in a movie. It’s just so bizarre the way things can happen in this business, and I still enjoy what I’m doing. When it gets to the point that I don’t enjoy it, I won’t do it.”
Anderson was totally game when Enderlin presented the idea for “Waffle House Christmas” during their co-write, which was in the middle of summer. Anderson has more than a casual connection with the restaurant chain, having graduated high school in 1955 in Avondale, Ga. the same year the first Waffle House restaurant opened there. Additionally, Waffle House meals are a staple for most touring musicians because the menu is consistent at every location. Enderlin got the initial idea after having a Waffle House Thanksgiving with fellow musician, Sunny Sweeney. Anderson loved it because of the action in the opening line, “Momma burnt the turkey and daddy set the tree on fire.”
“I’ve spent other Christmases at a Waffle House,” Enderlin says. “When Sunny and I spent Thanksgiving at one of them, I noticed how many people were there with their families because it’s one of the only places open on a holiday. Thanksgiving is really popular there.”
Kline is known among members of the Music Row community for having some of the best ears in town, and “Waffle House Christmas” was her first collaboration with Anderson. She has been making music with Enderlin for seven years and has written songs for Ronnie Dunn, Tara Thompson and Mitchell Tenpenny.
“That was the first time I had ever met Bill,” Kline recalls. “He was probably thinking, ‘Who is this girl coming in here, and why are we writing a Christmas song today?’”
The video’s director and Anderson’s manager, Lee Willard, says Kid Rock instantly wanted to be part of the video when he pitched the idea to his team. A massive fan of both Anderson and Waffle House, Rock turned down an opportunity to appear on The Simpsons to play the cook. He even owns a Rolls Royce with a Waffle House license plate.
“I wanted Kid Rock to be making a mess on the grill,” Willard recalls, “just have him back there throwing stuff on the floor and eating people’s food off their plates. It felt like something he would do, and he did it without even questioning it.”
The result is holiday magic. “Waffle House Christmas” is from Anderson’s 72nd album, Anderson, which features additional co-writes with John Paul White and Jamey Johnson.