There is not much more that can be written about this week's host of the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree that has not already been written. He is a singer, songwriter, actor, author, host, producer, spokesperson and the list goes on and on. "Whisperin'" Bill Anderson is the total package when it comes to entertainers, and he shows no signs of slowing his pace. His appearance on the Midnite Jamboree is timely as he is in the first week of the release of his latest recording project, an album entitled "LIFE!".
Anderson, who was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and raised in Metropolitan Atlanta (Griffin), Georgia, attended the University of Georgia where he earned a degree in journalism. This achievement seems appropriate, and not at all surprising, to those who have been the benefactors in one way or another of his songwriting. Many of the penned thoughts he has recorded himself. Other renderings have propelled the artists who recorded them onto the musical charts and established their prominence among the industry giants. As the story goes, Ray Price, a superstar of Country music in the 1950s recorded a Bill Anderson tune entitled "City Lights" in 1958. The success of this song (#1 on the Country charts) enabled Anderson, the 19 year old songwriter/disc jockey, to move to Nashville, Tennessee to follow his dream of songwriting, professionally. He was soon signed to a recording contract with Decca Records. From there, the opportunities and success kept amassing. Anderson kept writing and recording his songs which were garnering him a lot of attention from the industry and, probably more importantly, the Country music fans. Songs like 1959's "That's What Its Like To be Lonesome" (his first chart hit), 1960's "Tips Of My Fingers" (his first top twenty recording), 1961's "Po' Folks", and 1962's "Mama Sang A Song" (his first number 1 hit) established his credibility as an all around entertainer. The song which really exposed Anderson to a wider audience outside of the Country music circles was the 1963 number 1 hit "Still". Not only was it a number 1 hit on the Country charts, it crossed over and went to numbers 3 and 8 on the Adult Contemporary and Pop charts, respectively.
During those early days and beyond, Anderson has proven himself time and again as a genius songwriter. Beyond the Ray Price classic recording of "City Lights" (which was also covered and went to number 1 by Mickey Gilley in 1975), he has written songs for Connie Smith, Wanda Jackson, Lynn Anderson and Jim Reeves. In what would be termed the "Modern Era", Anderson continues to show his innate ability not only of the written word but matching the right singer with the right song. Examples of this statement are reflected in the recordings of Kenny Chesney ("A Lot Of Things Different"), Brad Paisley and Allison Krause ("Whiskey Lullaby"), Mark Wills ("Wish You Were Here"), Steve Wariner ("Two Tear Drops") and George Strait ("Give It Away") just to name a few. It has been stated that an artist can be identified by the way his or her band plays before the artist is ever seen on stage. The same is true of a songwriter. No truer statement has been made as in the case of a Bill Anderson song. Emotional, heart-felt, in tune and realist are all words that come to mind in describing Bill Anderson and his songwriting style. It is no wonder that he has been on the road entertaining people from coast to coast and around the world for more than 50 years. As a Grand Ole Opry member he brings his music to a world wide audience practically every week through the facilities of 650AM WSM radio. A true legend, in every since of the word, it is also no wonder that he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
Anderson's latest offering is an album he called "LIFE!". It is an album of ten new songs, some of which have been performed on the Grand Ole Opry and other road dates on which Anderson has appeared in the preceding months leading up to the March 4. 2014 album release date. Two of the songs which have gotten positive feedback are "Old Army Hat" and "Bubba Garcia's". On one end of the lyrical spectrum, "Old Army Hat" is an emotional tune reflecting on the memories of an American Armed Services veteran. On the other end of the spectrum is a song that sums up "LIFE!" for some as the story of a young man affectionately known as "Bubba Garcia" embarks upon a restaurant enterprise known as a "BBQ Cantina and Moonshine Margarita Stand". This collection of songs on "LIFE!" perfectly demonstrates the songwriting ability, capability and flexibility of Bill Anderson and shows how he has been able to remain among the top echilon of the industry.
You can catch "Whisperin'" Bill Anderson on this weekend's Opry shows as host of tonight's Friday Night Opy 8:15pm (CST) portion. On Saturday night, he hosts the 8:45pm (CST) portion of the world famous Grand Ole Opry. Join Bill Anderson at the Texas Troubadour Theater in Nashville's Music Valley as he hosts the Midnite Jamboree. The Texas Troubadour Theater is adjacent to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop #2 and a short walk from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House. I have it on good authority that a "Meet and Greet" will take place after the Midnite Jamboree performance. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop #2 will also have copies of Anderson's newly released album "LIFE!" on hand, as well. If you cannot be there in person, listen live on 650AM WSM via radio or the Internet at www.wsmonline.com. For more information, contact (615) 889-2474.