Last winter I was working on making a CD for a friend. He is 81 years old and his health hasn’t been the best. I placed rhythm and bass tracks on about 9 songs with the plans for him to do his instruments and vocals at a later date when his health was better. Upon realizing the reality of this not happening, I became interested in placing some tracks down for myself as an instrumental CD.. Out of the blue I decided to try my hand at singing on this track. I added more instruments and before I knew it I had a song with seven or eight tracks.
I do not sing and for this to happen still amazes me! One day my wife, Laurie came home while I had the earphones on working on some guitar parts and asked her if she wanted to hear this. She couldn’t believe she was listening to me singing. I couldn’t believe I let her in as to what I had done.
A friend, Marci Williams learned of this through our conversation and she wanted to hear it sometime. She did and discussions occurred and suddenly the concept of doing a CD for my mother evolved. Marci is a great artist, musician and singer and she suggested to sing some harmony and the rest is history!
I began searching for old country-style songs that my mother would be familiar with. In total twelve songs were decided on. Most of the songs were from ones I heard as a boy growing up around the house. My mother, Ruth Smail liked such artists as Buck Owens; Hank Williams; Merle Haggard; George Jones; Hawkshaw Hawkins; Charley Pride; Ray Price; Johnny cash; Mel Tillis and many others. A couple of the songs on the CD are more recent artists such as Vince Gill and Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan.
The process of writing down the words and determining the best key to sing in and arranging happened next. After many, many hours I had the twelve songs down with a lot of tracks per song. My good friend and fellow musician, Dick Vernon placed a number of steel guitar tracks down and the mixing work began.(We don’t allow Dick to sing!) I played all the guitar tracks and the bass guitar.
I, also, borrowed an electric keyboard from my sister Ruthie and by using homemade cheat sheets learned enough of the piano to play on several songs. A few others I used the strings sounds on this piano to sound like orchestration. There was a lot of faking going on here!
Marci sang harmony on all but one song. She sang two-part harmony of a couple of the songs. She did some mighty fine lead vocals with me on a couple of songs. I sang harmony with myself on one song.
Throughout this process, my sister and, I and even my mother, searched for a 1940 era photo of my mother and Hawkshaw Hawkins. This was planned for the CD cover. We couldn’t find it, but we did find a photo of around 1943-46 era of ma holding a guitar. This became the surprise cover. (Hawkshaw Hawkins was a big name country singer who passed away in the very same plane wreck with Patsy Cline in 1963. One of his songs, Lonesome 77-203 is featured on this CD.)
Very recently, I surprised my mother, now married to Bob Miller, with a copy of the CD while at a campground playing music. She wouldn’t believe I sang on a CD since she hadn’t heard me sing since I was 17 years old. She thought this was one of my tricks. When she finally listened to the songs she became teary eyed and later, when I saw her couldn’t thank me enough.
Having her as my mother is thanks enough!
Songs on this CD are: Lonesome 77-203…Hawkshaw Hawkins; So Afraid Of Losing You Again….Charley Pride; Today I Started loving You Again… Merle Haggard; Heart Over Mind… Mel Tillis; Til A Tear Becomes a Rose…Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan; Together Again…Buck Owens; Jackson….Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash; Walk Through This World With Me…George Jones; Crazy Arms…Ray Price; From a Jack To A King…Ricky Van Shelton; You Win Again…Hank Williams; Go Rest High On The Mountain...Vince Gill