The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #5 – Charley Pride

Hey.  It’s Me.

For lovers of traditional country music (that’s me) it just doesn’t get any better than Charley Pride.  I recall taking a friend of mine to see Charley Pride in concert and at one point looking over and seeing tears of joy streaming down his face.  That’s not an exaggeration, but as Pride says in this interview he’s “in the business of feelings, lyrics and emotions.”  If that’s what Charley Pride is selling, he can consider himself a successful salesman because of the gusto with which people consume his music.

Charley Pride is honest and down-to-earth in this interview and we talk about his latest album Music in My Heart, featuring 13 new recordings and the man behind the music.  It’s all here folks.  Welcome to it.

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The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #2 – The Dean Dillon Interview

Dean Dillon is one of my favorite songwriters and in my humble opinion, the song “Tennessee Whiskey” is the greatest country song. It’s been recorded by George Jones, David Allan Coe, and most recently by Chris Stapleton, rightfully securing it’s place in music as a standard.

Other great songs he wrote include “A Lot of Things Different,” co-written by Bill Anderson and recorded by Kenny Chesney. He’s written songs for the most successful recording artists of our time, but perhaps he is most known for the many well known songs George Strait recorded: “Unwound,” “The Chair,” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” and “Marina Del Rey,” just to name a few.

2017 saw the release of the film TENNESSSEE WHISKEY: The Dean Dillon Story (directed by Cole Claassen) which tells the story of the great songwriter.  This excellent film and the incredible song catalog of Dean Dillon inspired and guided this interview.

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The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #1 – Willie Nelson

A postcard I wrote ended up in Willie Nelson’s hands.  He responded warmly.

For episode #1 of The Paul Leslie Hour, I want to invite you on Willie Nelson’s tour bus for an honest and light-hearted conversation with the man himself.

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Randy Moore: Singer-Songwriter, Performing & Recording Artist

WALKING into a bar in downtown Nashville, I heard Randy Moore singing and playing his guitar.  He sang with the utmost sincerity.  I knew he had a story to tell and as it turns out, not unlike the life of many artists, Randy Moore has done some incredible things including performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and was a friend and song co-writer with the late, great Carl Perkins.  Let’s meet Randy Moore.


T. Graham Brown: Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist

T. GRAHAM BROWN is one of the most unique voices in country music.  His most recent album “Forever Changed” has been called by some his best work yet. “Forever Changed” received a Grammy nomination for Best Roots Gospel album. If we are judged by the company we keep, T. Graham Brown is the cream of the crop.  His friends in the rock, soul, country and Christian music genres all contributed their vocals to the project, a diverse list that includes Vince Gill, Jason Crabb, Leon Russell, Jeff & Sheri Easter, The Oak Ridge Boys, Steve Cropper, Booth Brothers, Three Bridges, Sonya Isaacs, and Jimmy Fortune.

In addition to original songs co-written by T. Graham Brown, “Forever Changed” features interpretations of songs like the Curtis Mayfield classic, “People Get Ready” which fits perfectly in Brown’s hands.  The album ends with a version of “Wine Into Water,” which deals with the topic of addiction.

 In this interview, T. Graham Brown talks about his roots, the inspiration behind “Forever Changed,” the challenges he overcame and his friendship with songwriter Bruce Burch.


Jim Ed Brown: Singer

“Country music is the poetry of the American spirit.” -Steve Maraboli

Our special guest  is country music singer and recording artist Jim Ed Brown.  Jim Ed Brown will be talking about his  first album in 30 years, entitled “In Style Again.”  He has recorded with his sisters Maxine and Bonnie in their trio “The Browns,” and had hit songs like “million selling “The Three Bells.”  In a duo with Helen Cornelius, Brown recorded songs that would become classic country recordings, like “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You” and “Lying in Love With You.”  Jim Ed Brown has also recorded as a solo artist withsongs like “Southern Loving,” “Morning” and his signature song “Pop a Top,” which Alan Jackson also went on to record.  On his first album in 30 years, Jim Ed Brown also recorded duets with Vince Gill, the vocal group The Whites, and even reunited with Helen Cornelius on one song.  “In Style Again” was produced by Don Cusic and the title track was produced by country music artist Bobby Bare.  In addition to his career as a singer, Jim Ed Brown is also a radio personality.  He hosts “Country Music Greats Radio Show” and the daily short format “Country Music Greats Radio Minute” both heard on over 300 radio stations as well as online.  Jim Ed Brown is an active member of the Grand Ole Opry, having been a member since 1963.  


Bruce Burch: Songwriter, Educator

Bruce Burch, a native of Gainesville, Georgia is the writer of songs recorded by the likes of George Jones, Billy Joe Royal, Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton and many others. Songwriter Bruce Burch is also known in the world of academia, he is the Executive in Residence of the Music, Sports and Entertainment program at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia. His other passion is the John Jarrard Foundation, where Burch serves as a director. The John Jarrard Foundation is an organization that supports songwriters and a number of great causes.


Who is Bruce Burch?

Well, Bruce Burch, first and foremost, is a songwriter. Uh, that’s what got me in the music business and what, uh – probably I made more money doing that than anything in the music business. Uh, I have become, uh, through – when the money quit coming in so much as a songwriter I moved over to the business side and became a music publisher and, uh, worked for the EMI Publishing, one of the biggest companies which now has just been, uh, bought by Sony ATV. But, uh, that moved me into that direction and then I got into academia over at the University of Georgia, since then Kennesaw State and now at Brenau University teaching the music business. So, but first and foremost, and the thing that got me there, the thing that I’m just, uh, still in love with is songwriting.

I think most stories are best from the beginning. What was life like growing up?

Well, I grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, uh, the poultry capitol of the world and, uh, my dad was in the poultry industry so I spent a lot of time in chicken houses. I always say now that, uh, no matter how much poop I have to walk through in the music business, it could never top the poop I walked through in the poultry industry (laughs). So, uh, you know I grew up there and, uh, loved music always. I was a big Beatles fan, obviously – you know, everybody who grew up in the ‘60s was – and the Rolling Stones, and really didn’t listen to country music, um, until, um, until college age, you know? So, uh, but it was – always music was involved, you know? I loved music from the time I – even though I didn’t play and didn’t sing growing up.

What got you hooked on country music?

Kris Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson. I think when I first heard him it was like, uh – even though the guy was not a great singer, not a great guitar player – uh, but just an amazing writer. And I’d, I’d, you know I’d started – I’d always been into poetry and, uh, he was the first guy who I think put poetry into country music. Maybe not the first guy but he was the guy that, uh, sort of became the guy who carried that flag of – kind of put Bob Dylan and mixed in with Johnny Cash and, you know, the rest is history.

Tell us about the song For the Good Times.

That song is the reason I am in the music business. Uh, I heard it. I had, uh, broken up with a girlfriend. I had quit – I had gone to East Tennessee State University to play football. My freshman year I had quit football. So I had lost the two loves of my life, I had lost, and so it was just I was feeling a sense of loss when I heard that song. And it hit me just like it was – when I heard Kris Kristofferson singing that song when I walked into my apartment one night it was like, uh, he was singing my life. And it drew me into – like I said, with country songs, the best country songs you feel like they’re singing your life and that what I always, when I look for a great country song, that’s what I look for in it.

Tell us about the first song you wrote.

That would have been, uh, a song about my grandma. I’d, like I said I’d been listening to Kris Kristofferson and, uh, and Mickey Newberry and a lot of – I started listening to some other writers and the next thing you know, I pick up a guitar and began writing and, and the first thing that popped out was song about my grandma. We’d come, we’d been up to visit her and came back, and I wrote a song called Grandma Mackie. And, uh, and I’ve probably written more songs about my – other than a woman – I’ve probably written more songs about grandparents and family than anything else. You know, I think that’s sort of been a theme that’s recurred throughout my career as a songwriter.

You mentioned Kris Kristofferson. What songwriters have influenced you the most?

Well, definitely Kris Kristofferson. Uh, Mickey Newberry early on. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He wrote Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In, and put An American Trilogy together. Uh, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, you know, were two. John Prine. Uh, more of the folk/country artists. Uh, and then I got into, once I got into country music I mean, guys like Bob McDill, guys like Harlan Howard. Uh, you know, the simplicity of country music. You know, the writers, the pure country writers not so much the artist/writers.

How did you feel the first time a song you wrote was recorded by an artist?

Well, the first time it was recorded it didn’t – uh, it was one by Slim Pickens, the character actor, you know, that he had been – it never got released. It was called – I was running a hot dog shop at the time and I chopped onions every day and I wrote a song called It’s Only These Onions that’s Making Me Cry. And because I was, you know I was, when I chopped the onions I would tear up, you know? And it was kind of a comedy song. Well, Slim cut the song and it never got released so it was disappointment the first time my first song got recorded. But the good news about that is he recorded one other song out of the Combine Music Catalog, which is where my song was published by, and that was a Kris Kristofferson song. So I took it as a sign that, even though that song had not, was not released to the general public and nobody ever heard it – I never even heard it, his version of it – uh, because he cut a Kris Kristofferson song, I took it as a sign that I was meant to keep doing it. So, so that song getting recorded, probably meant more to me than just about any other song I had recorded because it was at a point in time when I was just about ready to give up. And even though I didn’t have any financial success with that song, it gave me the, you know, the passion to keep going on, you know? I thought ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ You know?

But you never heard the song.

Never heard the song. Not that he recorded, no. You know, I still do it. When I play out, I do it live ‘cause I always tell that story about it. I didn’t get to meet him. I was so busy, I was still working my job at the hot dog shop and so when he was in recording I was working all day so I didn’t get to meet him. But one of the pluggers, the song pluggers that had gotten that song recorded went over there, met him and said ‘You know, Slim, this is this boy’s first cut he’s ever had.’ And he said – if you remember Slim Pickens, how talked – (imitates Slim Pickens) “Well he’s dang sure startin’ at the bottom!’ (Laughter) And, um, (laughter) sure enough, I was starting at the bottom. But it was, it was a real – like I say, the first song that I ever had recorded that got released was by the Oakridge Boys, back on their very first Christmas album and that’s the one, I guess, made me realize I could do this because I actually got to – when I got recorded, I got to go to the bank and get a $15,000 loan against earnings to come in, and that could’ve been $150,000 at that particular time. I mean, it meant so much to me to know that I could make that kind of money writing songs that I knew then that I was going to be a lifer. You know, it’s what I call a lifer in the music business, is somebody that never – you know, is going to figure out howto make a living at it (laughs) for the rest of my life and that’s what I did.

When you heard that song the Oak Ridge Boys recorded, was it on an album or was it on the radio? When was the first time you heard it?

The first time I heard it was just on, yeah, on an album. It got played – it got a good bit of radio play, though, over the years. The beauty about Christmas songs, you know – I don’t know if you’ve interviewed any guys that have written big Christmas hits. This wasn’t a big hit but it still gets played to this day because Christmas songs come back year after year after year, you know?


I mean I used to talk to the guy whose dad, I think, wrote Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. When I was at EMI they published that song, and I used to talk to the son of the guy who wrote that. Every year he would call and ask “Who recorded that song? Who recorded the song this year?’ And sure enough, every year it would get re-recorded and, of course, got, you know, unbelievable amounts of airplay. So the guy who wrote that’s son is still living on that song, you know?

Tell us about the song you wrote, Rumor Has It.

Rumor Has It was my first #1 and that will always be a special song because of that. It got recorded, um, several times before Reba McEntire recorded it. Uh, it got recorded by, uh, Freddie Hart. It got recorded by Ricky Scaggs and Tammy Wynette. But they never – I think Freddie Hart released it but Tammy didn’t ever release it and, uh, Ricky Scaggs never released it. And so, thank goodness, when Reba recorded it, it came out and not only was it a hit, a #1 single, it was also the title of the album and that really sort of put me on the map as a songwriter. Uh, I mean, I had had a couple of Top 10’s before that but this was, having a #1, you know, it definitely puts you on the map.

What song, of the songs you’ve written, are you most proud of?

Probably the song called Wine into Water that T. Graham Brown – a guy named T. Graham Brown who I knew from Georgia, uh, we co-wrote that song with a guy named Ted Hewitt. And that song has probably affected more lives than any song. It’s about a recovery. It’s basically a recovery song, you know? And they used it in – I mean, I don’t know how many people have come up and told me that they’ve been in AA or treatment, you know, for substance abuse that they use that song in there. So I think it’s saved a few lives so that’s been a really meaningful song to me. And it’s probably if not my best song, it’s definitely up there in my top five best songs I’ve ever written.

He recorded another song, The Last Resort.

T. Graham did, yeah. Last Resort was a Top 5 record and my first Top 5 record. And that was a special song because, I mean it was the first Top 5 and T. Graham was so good to me. I mean, he recorded I think eight songs that we either wrote or – or actually, I think we co-wrote all of them. And, uh, he was a guy from Georgia. You know, we had become friends and, uh, he sort of gave me the – that song sort of put me on the map, I guess, since it got me in the Top 10 and opened a lot of doors for me. So, uh, I’ll always be indebted to him and he’s such an amazing singer. Still, to this day he sings. I mean, he’s my age, which is I’m 59 and I think he’s got to be about, maybe a little younger than I am but he still sings like a 20-year old, you know?

You’ve written with the late Dobie Gray.


What are your memories of writing with him?

Dobie was, uh, boy, talking about a singer now. He was probably – I wouldn’t say he was the “best” singer but he definitely – I used to get chill bumps writing with him just because he sang so beautifully. And we wrote one song in particular called It’s Not Because We Didn’t Try that I still think, uh – it’s not been a hit for anybody. Pam Tillis recorded it one time but it never got released. I got a lot of those songs that don’t get released it seems like (laughs). But, uh, I still think that song has got life left in it and, uh, Dobie was a, he was a special person. He had a lot of soul, probably the most soulful guy I ever wrote with.

There’s a song you wrote that was recorded by Billy Joe Royal.


What was the inspiration behind Out of Sight and on My Mind?

Out of Sight and on My Mind – I had that title and, uh, ended up writing it with Rick Peoples. And Rick and I – I’ll be honest with you, when we wrote the song I thought it was OK. I didn’t think it was a great song. I thought it had a good feel to it and we demo’d it. The demo came out really good and, uh, but Rick and I never wrote another song. We wrote that one song together and it came out and it became a Top 10 hit. And, of course, Billy Joe Royal – I’d grown up listening to Billy Joe Royal so it was a big thrill to get a song recorded by him because he’s such a great singer. And that was like a ‘50s kind of a song and I was really into the whole ‘50s music scene, too, so that was a pretty special song. Yeah, I still like that one.

It had to have been incredible when George Jones recorded that song.

Yeah. That song has been recorded now three times. T. Graham – I wrote it with T. Graham Brown and Bruce Bouton. Bruce Bouton is a songwriter but he’s also a great steel guitar player. And we wrote Last Resort together as well, T. Graham and Bruce and I. And, uh, George, yeah – when T. Graham had that song he did a great job on it. Trisha Yearwood, by the way, sang the demo, which you ought to hear the demo. It’s really great, too. And then to get George Jones to record it! And then it just got recently recorded. Someone heard it on George Jones’ album and took it and recorded it. And that was Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent and their version is great. So I’ve been lucky on that song. That’s the, like I say, three times it’s been recorded. And I say it still, Trisha Yearwood’s version is right up there. I wish we could get her to record it because she did such a great job on the demo. And I think we paid her $40.00 (laughs).

Speaking of Gene Watson, he recorded I Catch Myself.


What was the inspiration behind that one?

That song I wrote by myself which is something I rarely do. I went through a little period there where I just took some time and sat back and wrote by myself. And I wrote that song which got recorded by Gene Watson, and another song called I Was Losing You that got recorded. It’s been recorded four times – by Wayne Newton, uh, I can’t remember who else has recorded it but – but, uh, I don’t know, that one came pretty much straight out, it just fell out of me. I didn’t start – usually I start with a title and I didn’t start with a title. I just started with the first line and, uh, and worked down and then when I got to the title it was a hook, ‘I catch myself’ and ‘I’ve fallen in love’ is what the kind of the hook was. And I didn’t have, but I didn’t have that originally. That’s the first time I’ve ever come up with a kind of a hook right in, you know, uh, in the middle of the song. The hook just kind of came out. And that, usually you start with a hook. Or usually I start with a hook. And, when by a ‘hook’ I mean a title or something, you know, and in that case I didn’t. So that, that was a rare occasion. And a rare occasion that I wrote by myself. I should do it more often because I really think you write a different kind of song by yourself than you do when you co-write. Uh, I’m not saying it’s a better song I write by myself but it’s just usually more heart-felt, you know? It’s not as, uh – it’s not been edited down as much sometimes, I think.

When you wrote the song, You Can’t Keep a Good Memory Down, which John Anderson recorded, did the title come first on that one?

The title did come first. I had that title and there’s an interesting story behind that song. I wrote with a guy named Roger Murrah and his brother Michael Murrah. And, uh, Roger was a guy who had had several hits already. He already was a pretty hot songwriter at the time. I was still waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant and Roger used to come in and I’d wait on him. Well, Roger drank iced tea, a lot of iced tea, and so I’d just keep his iced tea glass full. And so, one day after I’d been waiting on him – I’d never told him I was a songwriter and Roger, uh figured it out though, ‘cause I kept his iced tea glass so full and probably ignored some of my other customers because I was being so attentive to Roger – and he says ‘You’re a songwriter, aren’t you?’ and I said ‘Yeah! How’d you know?’ He said ‘I can just kind of tell that you were, you know, you spent a lot of time waiting on me.’ (Laughs) And I said ‘Yeah, I am.’ And he said ‘Well, you been such a good waiter’ he said ‘let’s write a song next week.’ And so I went over and we wrote, that next week, we wrote, that was the first song we wrote. So that was my first Top 40 record so I always tell people that I got my first Top 40 song not by being a great songwriter but by being a good waiter and keeping somebody’s iced tea glass full. I tell my students a lot of times, you know, even if you’re working a menial job you never know who you’re going to meet through that menial job, you know, and that might be the person that gets you to that next level. So always remember that when you’re out there waiting tables or running a hot dog shop or being a desk clerk, which are all jobs I had in Nashville before I was able to make a living writing full-time.

What about My Train of Thought?

That was a song I wrote with a guy named Michael Woody who was a – that was the only thing that we ever had recorded together, I think. But Barbara Mandrell recorded it and she was pretty hot. It was a Top 20 song and, uh, it was just an honor to get a song recorded by her because at this particular time Barbara had been on national TV and probably took country music – I think was probably the first female artist to take country music to the level, the national level like that. You know, Johnny Cash had had a TV show and I think Roger Miller had had something and Glen Campbell had had a TV show but, as far as I know, Barbara Mandrell might have been the first country artist to have her own TV show – The Barbara Mandrell Show or The Mandrell Sisters, I believe. I can’t remember exactly but, uh, she was an icon and, uh, was so nice, too. I got to meet her and get a picture made with her and stuff, and was just such a nice lady. And I’ll always remember that song because she did such a great job on it, too.

A lot of the artists that have recorded your songs are country singers.


But we can’t leave out the great Wayne Newton …

Wayne, man, Wayne.

… who recorded your song.

I get a call from a guy named Rhubarb Jones who was a DJ, a Hall of Fame DJ or a ‘radio personality’ as they call them now – as they call you now (laughter) – and, uh, Rhubarb said – he was good friends with Wayne and he said, uh, ‘Man, Wayne Newton is looking for some songs. Why don’t you send me some and I’ll send them. He called me and asked me to help him find some songs, and I told him I’d call some of my songwriter friends.’ So I sent Rhubarb the tape and, uh, he sent it on out to, uh, Wayne and Rhubarb called me back about a week later and said ‘Man, Wayne loves three of those songs you sent.’ And I thought OK, sure, great. Maybe I’ll end up with maybe getting one song recorded if I’m lucky, you know? Well, he said ‘Send me some more.’ So I sent Rhubarb some more songs and he called me back about a week later and he said ‘Man, Wayne likes two more of these songs. He’s coming to town in a few weeks and he’s going to record and he’s going to cut, record five of your songs.’ And I said – well, I still thought well there’s no way that will happen. He, maybe he’ll probably end up recording one of them, you know? But he really went in and not only did he go in, they called me up and invited me down to the studio so, you know, even though I’m not a producer at all, I sort of got to chime in on the songs. And he recorded all five of those songs. And I went on to write a couple of more songs with Wayne on another, for another project he was doing and got to know him. And, uh I’ll tell you he, speaking of nice people, he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, as far as an artist, you know? And when my mamma passed away this past, uh, August, I get a call one day. From all the people I’ve known in the music business at that level, you now, I didn’t hear from anybody but Wayne Newton called me and told me he was sorry to hear about me losing my mamma. And I kept that tape because that meant so much to me. And he’s a special person, he really is, and a great talent. Amazing. Obviously, one of the greatest entertainers of all time. And, uh, you know people, a lot of people make fun of Wayne Newton but I’ll tell you what – I’m proud to have those songs recorded. And he actually did one of them on The Roseanne Show.

Yup. Wow.

Yeah, and that was a pretty good, it had a pretty good run on TV and it made some pretty good royalties.

Let’s talk about another songwriter. Let’s talk about John Jarrard.

Wow. John Jarrard, uh, and I grew up together, uh, as I told you, and, um, here in Gainesville, Georgia. And John and I both got into country music at the same time and one – we didn’t even realize it. I used to see him at country concerts but we didn’t realize that each other had both started writing songs until one night he stops in at – I’m working as a desk clerk out of the Days Inn here in Gainesville, Georgia and, uh, he, uh, he stops in out there to see me. And I had my guitar behind the desk and he says ‘What’s – what are you doing with a guitar back there?’ And I said ‘Well, I play and write a little bit, you know?’ And he said ‘Well, I do, too.’ And so I said ‘You’re kidding!’ I didn’t – we didn’t have, we had no idea that – you know, we had grown up together and both went to the University of Georgia but neither one of us had any idea ‘cause he wasn’t real musical either. I’m, you know like I said, I was not a musical person, you know, growing up. He wasn’t either. And we both got into country music and started writing songs and so we sort of fed each other’s fire. In fact, we recorded our first demo, it was down there – and we had figured out that, you know, it’s always said the bathroom was the nearest thing to a recording studio if you were going to record. So we got us a reel-to-reel player and we went down and set up in the Days Inn bathroom and that’s where we recorded our first demos. And they’re god-awful sounding but they – you know, we fed each other’s fire is what I always said. And after I moved to Nashville first, he moved up there about eight months later and he would always say ‘You know, you’re the reason I moved to Nashville.’ And I would always tell him ‘Well, you’re the reason I stayed.’ ‘cause he had had, you know, he had great success. He had eleven #1 songs and, uh, I always felt like I was trying to catch up to him, you know? Because he got, he did such a, he had such an amazing career. And also, the guy was, you know, had a lot of physical ailments that – to hell and back – and he still was able to have eleven #1 songs. He was a childhood diabetic and so he had lost his sight. Uh, he had, uh – he lost his sight after he moved to Nashville, as a matter of fact. Uh, he ended up losing, uh, his – he had a kidney and pancreas transplant. Uh, he ended up having parts of his fingers, uh, removed and then both legs removed at the knee before he passed on about ten – well it’s been 12 years, 11 years ago, I believe, now. Almost 12 years ago now. But to be able to achieve all that he achieved with that was a true an inspiration, not only to me but, uh, you know, hundreds of songwriters in Nashville that he – that’s why we’re so glad to be able to have this concert that we have in his name here in Gainesville, Georgia now, and to keep his memory alive because he was truly a unique and amazing human being, you know?

Well, tell us a little bit about this concert. It’s going to be on September 15th.

Yes. We have it every year in the fall. We do this concert, we call it just The John Jarrard Concert. He and I used to do, uh, some benefits down here when he was alive and, uh, after he passed away they asked me to keep on doing these benefits. And I told them, I said well, the only way I’ll do it is if we dedicate to John, call it the John Jarrard Concert, and we donate it to the causesthat John supported while he was alive which were the Boys and Girls Club, Good News at Noon, which is a homeless food program, Good News at Noon Clinic which is a homeless medical program. And then we’ve gone on and given to some other charities now ‘cause we’ve made, we’ve raised over a million dollars in the 10 years we’ve been doing this concert. But it started out just real small. We had 30 tables of eight people, I think, so we had like 250 people at the very first one and, uh, and now we have about 1200 that show up every year. And we bring down songwriters from Nashville and it’s a songwriters show which is unusual because it’s not a headliner. Usually, we don’t have a big, you know, Garth Brooks or anybody like that coming down. We usually have just songwriters and people have really grown to love the show. Uh, like I said, the community supports it amazingly here in Gainesville, Georgia. Uh, and that’s one thing I said when decided to do it, too. I said I want to name this thing after John and have the right people involved. And we obviously got the right people involved because it’s just been a huge success every year. And we’ve now started a thing called “First Verse” which is a songwriting program that we’re trying to go in to schools and teach kids how to write songs because it’s such a, songwriting is such a great way to learn the language. I know I use a dictionary probably more than I ever did after I started writing songs, you know? And learned just so much about the language, you know? And, uh, and just discipline, you know – writing, how writing songs is such a discipline, you know? And, uh, a craft, you know? I think it really teaches you patience and, uh, sort of like putting crossword puzzles together, I guess, in a certain way. But, um, but we’ve done all this to try and keep John’s memory alive and carry it on into – keep songwriting, to make songwriting, to make people realize that there are songwriters out there. It’s not just about the artists, you know? That songwriters are the, I mean, they’re the lifeblood of this industry. You know, I still think even now, when so many artists are writing their own songs – still, to me, the best songs come from the pure, what I call pure songwriters, you know? That aren’t necessarily singers, you know, aren’t necessarily performers but they are the guys like the Johnny Mercers, the Irving Berlins, you know, the Cole Porters, you know, that never really were known as performers so much but were really more so known as writers. And I hope that we can keep that – that’s one of our goals of the John Jarrard Foundation, too, is to point out that fact and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it because we – like I say, it continues to grow every year.

So this is going to be September 15, 2012, at the Campus Green, Brenau University.


Tell us about some of the songwriters that are going to be there.

Well, we’ve got, uh, Jim Collins coming who is, uh – he wrote, uh, Big Green Tractor for Jason Aldean. He wrote She Thinks My Tractor Is Sexy for Kenny Chesney, so he’s had a lot of love of tractor songs (laughter). He also has written, oh, several other songs for Kenny Chesney. And he just had a big hit this last year with, uh, oh I can’t think of the name of the group but Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?, a big country record this last year. It was probably the most played song of the year – by Thompson Station, I believe it was, that’s the name of that duo. And then we’re having Jeffrey Steele, who has probably had more songs recorded in the last 10 years than any songwriter in Nashville. Again, I’m not as familiar with all of his songs but Jeffrey will be there. We’ll have, uh – if you Google ‘Jeffrey Steele’ you can see, uh, his number of songs. I know he did write a big Rascal Flats thing – oh wait, I’m drawing a blank on the title. But anyway, we’re going to have, uh, Tony Arata who wrote The Dance, among many other hits he’s had, and a guy named Fred Knobloch who has not had that many hits but Fred is one of those writers who has had a lot of songs recorded. And he’s one of those writers that’s just a great performer-writer, you know? Some writers are not such great performers but this Fred is. And he’s coming down because he was a big John fan and a friend. And, uh, so we’ve got – that’s the four we’ve got nailed down. We’ll probably have some others that we’ll announce in the next few weeks but, uh, but we’re really looking forward to this year. I think it’s going to be another great year.

What is the web site for The John Jarrard Foundation?

It’s and you can go there and check up and get updates and who’s going to be there as we announce – we’re, we’re still two months out so we’re going to nail it down in the next couple of weeks as to who all we’re going to have there. But you can go to that web site and see, learn a little more about the songwriters. And I obviously didn’t prepare to tell you about the song titles today (laughs) – sorry about that.

That’s Okay (laughs). What is the best thing about being Bruce Burch?

Whoo! I can tell you a lot of reasons not to be Bruce Burch but I must say, the best thing about getting to be Bruce Burch is I’ve gotten to meet all of my heroes. Not all of my heroes but I got to meet a lot of my heroes. I mean, I got to meet Kris Kristofferson, you know? And get to know him and pitch his songs when I worked at EMI. And I told him one time. I said ‘You know, you’re the reason I’m in the music business.’ and he says ‘Don’t blame that crap on me!’ (laughs). And you know Kris and his voice, I – to hear him say that. But I got to meet Tony Joe White, you know? I’ve gotten to meet Wayne Newton. I mean, I’ve gotten to meet just a lot of people that I never dreamed I would meet, you know? Reba McEntire. Barbara Mandrell. I mean, and it still goes on, even today. I mean, I meet – I’m trying to think of somebody I’ve met that has just blown me away. But meeting a lot of my musical heroes and I think, you know, I got – oh! Johnny Cash actually did, on a Collin Raye song I had recorded one time, Johnny Cash actually did a narration part on the front end. We had written a narration part of it and he actually did that. So I can sort of say I had a Johnny Cash cut, you know? (Laughs) I guess, you know, I mean, that’s the best thing about being Bruce Burch is that I’ve gotten to make a living in music and the music business. And it has not always been easy, you know? I mean, I always say I did not have the talent but I definitely had the desire and the drive and the determination and the perseverance, I think, more than anything. I tell songwriters, I always like to say the thing that is really the most – I think the best talent you can have if you want to be a songwriter is perseverance because it took me seven years to give up my full-time job running a hot dog shop, and then it took me another three years to give up my part-time job of waiting tables and along with being a desk clerk in the early years I was in Nashville, or the first year I was in Nashville. So I did a lot of things to do what I wanted to do. I did a lot of things I didn’t necessarily like doing to be able to do what I wanted to do (laughs). And so, uh, it’s paid off even though sometimes the music business can be a grind. And it can seem – it’s tough. It’s a tough life sometimes. You can ask anybody, they’ll tell you, especially for your wife and family, if you have those, it’s not always easy being around a songwriter or living a songwriter life but I don’t regret any of it, ever, you know, because I got to do all of that. That’s the best thing about being Bruce Burch.

You’ve been involved – well, more than involved – you’ve been a very big part of the John Jarrard Foundation. You’ve taught people about the music business. You’ve written songs. You’ve plugged songs. A lot of people have crossed paths. Some of them we know and there’s countless others. Some of them are going to be listening to this interview. And there’s other people who are going to be listening that haven’t met you yet. What do you want to say to all the folks who are listening in, whether they’re listening on the radio or they’re listening on the internet?

Well, uh, I guess the best thing I can tell you, the best piece of advice I could give anybody is whatever their dream is, if you’re going to do it, you know, believe in it enough to give it time because it definitely – dreams don’t happen overnight. I mean, anybody that you see that’s doing what they want to do, whether it’s being a songwriter or, you know, running a big company or whatever. It takes time to work your way to that position. They didn’t get there overnight and I guess that’s – my daddy, uh, never had a lot of success as a businessperson but he was really a hard-working man. And my mama too. And, uh, that’s what I learned from them is just to work hard and try to keep believing in yourself even when (laughs) you don’t necessarily believe in yourself, you know? Fake it ‘til you make it, you know? I just really believe that that’s the thing that I, that my life has been about is – because I’ve struggled in the music business at times – but it’s to keep going and keep believing in yourself, even when you don’t (laughs) sometimes, you know? It’s just to try to keep that perseverance and, uh, sticking to it until you be successful. And success is, that’s another thing I’ve learned is success is, there’s varying levels of success. And you’ve got to find success in the little things because that’s what – you know, like now, my success now for me is having two grandkids, you know? And that, to me, when I see them that’s the thing I’m most proud of. More so than my songs or anything. And that’s the thing that I’m still learning, you know? I’m 59 years old and I’m still learning a lot about life and things like that, things that really matter. And success is a term that changes as you grow older.

Well, Bruce Burch, it’s been a great pleasure.

Absolutely! Pleasure for me, too, Paul, as always. Good to see you, buddy.

Thank you.



Diane Schuur: Singer

Jazz legend Diane Schuur has released her new album “The Gathering,” on Vanguard Records. Although Diane Schuur is one of jazz’s leading singers, “The Gathering” is a collection of country songs mostly written during the 1960s. Produced by Steve Buckingham, the album features Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Larry Carlton, Mark Knopfler, and Kirk Whalum. Diane Schuur or “Deedles” as she is called by fans and friends alike, has a career spanning almost 30 years. She’s collaborated with the likes of jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Caribbean Jazz Project, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, Ray Charles, and bluesman B. B. King. She is a two time Grammy award-winner

Tom T. Hall: Singer-Songwriter

TOM T. HALL stands as one of the best songwriting storytellers of our time.  The writer of songs like “I Love,” “Harper Valley PTA,” and “Itty Bitty” for Alan Jackson among so many others talks about his songs and more in this face-to-face interview.

It’s a great pleasure to welcome Mr. Tom T. Hall on our program.  Thank you so much for joining us.  How do you do, Mr. Hall?
I’m in very good spirits today.  Been working on the farm and things are going well.  If you see a black cow with a white spot on it’s nose, bring it to me.

(Laughs)  So, who is Tom T. Hall?
Well, let’s see.  Who is Tom T. Hall?  Boy, you hear that question a lot (laughs) more than some of the others.  Tom T. Hall is six feet tall, weighs two-hundred and ten pounds, lives in Franklin, Tennessee…he’s an ex-country music superstar and, uh, he has a farm with chickens, cats, dogs, turkeys, and, uh, I hope I don’t leave any animals out…raccoons, squirrels, birds, and he takes care of all of them. 

I think most stories are best from the beginning.  What was life like growing up?
Well, I was born in, um, Olive Hill, Kentucky and Olive Hill, Kentucky is in a valley and there’s not an olive tree within probably 2,526 kilometers, but it’s, uh, a beautiful little town.  The population was 1,300.  Everybody knew everybody else and, uh, great town to grow up in and, uh, I feel like I’ve got a lot of friends there and I’ve written a lot of songs about people I’ve met….I grew up with and stories I heard from people I grew up with too.  So I was very fortunate to be born in Kentucky and I’m very proud of it and doubly proud to be an American. 

What kind of music did you enjoy the most?
Well I just mentioned that I grew up in Kentucky so you would imagine that the primary music that we all listened to was Bluegrass music.  Bill Monroe…theory has it that he started the music there way back when he was a kid and, um, so, we were listening to Flatt and Scruggs and all the, um, theoretical spin-offs…the Stanley Brothers and Reno and Smiley, Jimmy Martin, and Flatt and Scruggs and on and on and on and I, uh, my first musical experience was playing, uh, playing the bass fiddle in a Bluegrass band.  I remember as a kid, standing out under a tree….I don’t think the music…I’ve come a long way and done a lot of music but I think that’s the best music I ever heard, even though I was playing some of it.  And I was the “Oh Lordy” guy….we did a lot of gospel songs and my voice was too low to sing High Lonesome so I was the guy who’d lean in once in a while and say, “Oh Lordy,” which always got a nice round of applause. 


How did you feel the first time you got a song of yours recorded?  What song was it and who recorded it?
Well, uh, the first song I ever had recorded was by Jimmy C Newman and was called ‘A DJ for a Day.’  And I was a disc jockey at the time and had sent the song to Nashville and I stayed up till about 2 o’clock in the morning to hear Grant Turner play it on WSM and it sounded wonderful and I thought they’d play it five or six more times but they didn’t that night.

What lyricist do you find the most impressive?
Uh, I think, uh….I hate to pick out favorites…there’re a lot of great songwriters in this town and they’ve come and they’ve gone but, uh, I think I liked Harley Allen’s writing about as well as anybodies because he, uh, he wrote the way I liked to write….a lot of imagery in his lyrics and everything.  Harley, of course, passed away some time ago…a couple years ago…God rest his soul…but, uh, I always thought he was a remarkable wordsmith, if we may say that. 

What composer do you like the most?
Well this may….this would be melodies, I think…I would say Chopin.  He was a classic piano player and he wrote ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and that may surprise some people, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What inspired your song, ‘Harper Valley PTA’ and did you know it would be as successful as it was?
Well to answer the last part of the question, I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen to a song.  They never have any way of knowing.  If there was somebody in the world who knew that they would practically own the world but that’s what makes music, uh, the music business so interesting because, uh, you gotta get lucky and have a little talent and everything’s gottahappen just right at the right time.  But, uh, the song was inspired by a true story about an incident that took place in my hometown when I was, uh, a kid and it always made a big impression on me and I wrote the song when I got to Nashville because I was thinking back on some interesting things that happened in my childhood.

Can you recall writing the song ‘Little Bitty’?
I can recall that very vividly because I was on tour in Australia at the time and I…when I toured these foreign countries, there’s not an easy way to get a lot of exercise and I’m a big exercise person, so I would get up every morning and walk for two or three miles.  If I was in a city, you know, I’d walk six blocks this way, six blocks this way, six blocks this way and six blocks back and if my math worked out right, I’d wind up back at the hotel.  Sometimes I didn’t and I’d have to find a phone and call a radio station and ask somebody where I was staying so I had some big adventures.  But I got up one morning and I was dragging and I went for a walk and I was in a really small town so after about a mile, I was out in the country and I’m walking along and I pass this little white house with a little picket fence and a little dog in the yard and a car parked in the garage and a little flower bed and I thought, “You know this whole idea of having a house and a car and a dog and a family is a universal thing,” so I started singing “A little bitty house,” and however the song goes…I never sang it much.  I just wrote it.  But, uh, I went back to the little motel where we were staying and I walked in and the coffee shop was open now so, I didn’t know if ‘Little Bitty’ was something I picked up as a kid…an expression…I wanted to find if everyone knew what “Little Bitty” meant.  I wasn’t sure.  So a lady came over and brought me some coffee and I said, “I want to ask you a question,” and she said, “Yes sir,” and I said, “Does “little bitty” mean anything in Australia,” and she said, “Oh yes sir!  It’s something very tiny.”  I said, “Okay, I’m on my way,” so I finished up the song.

What inspired you to write ‘I Love’?
I live on a farm.  We have sixty acres outside Nashville.  It’s called ‘Fox Hollow’ and, uh, I had a friend who was a psychiatrist.  I wasn’t a patient.  I couldn’t afford it.  I needed it but I couldn’t afford it.  But, uh, he told me to get up in the morning and write down a list of everythingI didn’t like and you’d find out that the list was not as long as you would think it would be.  Well, I’m not a very negative person so I did that a couple days and I said, “That’s no fun.  I’m going to turn the whole thing around and just write down a list of things I love.”  Well, I was about halfway through the list and I started humming it and singing it.  Now, that’s the nature of a songwriter…and so it turned into a song instead of a list of things I love but they’re all in there and the song was two minutes long.  I recorded it in one take and sold a million records and I think it’s a…or more maybe by now…but, uh, it makes a very good statement about brevity so it doesn’t take as long to write or record a hit song as you might think. 

Can you say there’s a favorite version of one of your songs that someone else recorded?
I always liked anything Bobby Bare sung of mine because he could really, uh, do…he understood my songs and I traveled around with Bobby for a number of years.  We were in the same agency.  I liked the way Bob sang my songs.  But, uh, I think one of my favorite versions of a song was by a young man named Buddy Miller who I think is an alternative country music guy and, uh, a great person.  He did a version of a song I wrote called ‘How I Got to Memphis’ and I’m terribly fond of that and I hate to pick out favorites, but that’s it. 

What is your favorite all-around song?
I think my all-time favorite song for some strange reason is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’  There’s something about that melody and those words that just stuck in my head when I was a kid and heard it for the first time and I go around humming that a lot.  (Sings)  “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.”  Well, I’m not getting paid to sing here so…
(Laughs)  Tell us about writing songs with Miss Dixie.  What is she like to work with?
Miss Dixie and I write songs together all the time, but we write a little differently.  I’m…I write very quickly and I’m kind of impatient and I don’t like to stay in one place too long, but we can get a song started and find out what it’s about and maybe get a verse and a chorus and then sometimes I go off to bed…I go to bed with the chickens and get up with the chickens.  I don’t sleep with the chickens, but we have the same schedule.  And she’ll spend sometimes a week or, you know, everything…she likes to go…she was trained as a newspaper reporter…a newspaper editor…so she goes through and edits all these songs and comes out with some great finished product, but some of them I don’t hear them until they’re finished and some, I’m too lazy to work that hard but she’s really great at that. 

What is the best thing about being Tom T. Hall?
I think the best thing about being Tom T. Hall is not having to work.  I’m retired and, uh, I don’t owe anybody anything.  I don’t want anything from anybody and so, I can, if I take a notion some days, I can be a real butthole so that’s probably the best deal. 

What is it you like about music?
Well that’s a question that is very difficult to answer because all human beings are wired up a little differently here and there.  That’s what makes us individuals.  But, uh, I love music so much as a little child…I was four years old and there were a lot of kids in our family, but I would have my mother wake me up…she would get up very early to fix my father’s breakfast so he could go off to work, but she would get me up even before my father and, uh, while she was cooking breakfast…and let me listen to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville, Tennessee.  They had some live bands back in those days.  They had, uh, you name it back in those days…they had Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs and I think the Wilburn Brothers…I don’t know who all, but I was only four years old and I would get up and sit in the chair and listen to that music and that…I was one of the weird kids in the family in that regard. 

What makes you happiest?
I think what makes me happiest is to see other people happy.  I don’t, uh, I’m pretty…I’m kind of a loner and I’ve got my own take on life and I do my own thing and Miss Dixie lets me hang out at the barn and talkto the chickens and ducks and animals and so I think what makes me happiest is to see other people doing well and being happy and I try to contribute to that if I can.  I do that by staying out of their way, I think.

What is your favorite sound?
I think, uh, I’m not certain now, but, uh, when I was a kid, the most beautiful sound in the world was a five-string banjo early in the morning.  Go figure that out.

My last question:  this interview will be heard by people in a lot of places.  What would you like to say to all the people listening in?
I would like to thank, uh, all the people who are within earshot today for, uh, listening to my music, playing my music, giving me a break when I did something lousy or bad or wrong and, by doing that, giving me the great privilege to be an old man, sitting on a farm outside Nashville just having a hell of a good life and I wish you all the same.