When you begin following big name artists, it’s hard to tell if their act is just that – an act. It’s sometimes difficult to determine if artists are indeed genuine when the music industry has a firm hold on their words, actions, and music. In attempts to mold artists into efficient profit machines, management and labels can put strict limitations on artist’s lives…
Such restrictions do not apply to Charlie Daniels.
He does what he wants.
He says what he wants.
He plays how he wants.
After an interview which felt more like a casual conversation with a musician full of wisdom, Charlie Daniels proved himself as a down-to-business southern gentleman containing a dangerous mix of rebellious spirit and sincerity.
Country Music Pride: Mr. Daniels, firstly, I want to say congratulations. You’ve just released a new album ‘Night Hawk’, you have your annual Volunteer Jam approaching, and have an 80th birthday in November”
Charlie Daniels: Thank you very much – it’s been a wonderful year. It’s been a blessed year.
Country Music Pride: You’ve lived an impressive musical career. Is there a particular piece of music of your own or perhaps another artist which encapsulates the wild journey of a musician?
Charlie Daniels: There’s really not one. I’ve written many songs. I’ve written a song called ‘Sail Away’ – it’s about life on the road. I’ve written a few things that are particular to some of my brothers and sisters on the road – that sort of thing but haven’t done a ‘quintessential’ song – I don’t think anybody has…about figuring out what it all means – it goes very deep with me I am very thankful to God I get to be writing so much.”
Country Music Pride: You’re Volunteer Jam supports a great charity ‘The Journey Home Foundation’ in which you co-founded. What’s it like to meet the gals and guys which your charity directly supports?
Charlie Daniels: They’re the best we’ve got. There are no finer Americans than the ones in uniform. We’ve been among those in uniform in some desolate places in the world like Afghanistan, Kuwait, a whole bunch of places where they are and it’s ALWAYS an honor to be among them. They’re such an appreciative audience. If I had to put it into a word: thrilling. It’s a thrill to be among patriots like that.
Country Music Pride: Speaking of the Volunteer Jam, you always bring a diverse roster of talent along with you. All your friends make an appearance – friends from country, rock, comedy – what goes into creating a diverse lineup like the one of Volunteer Jam?
Charlie Daniels: We’re pretty diverse. We’re after something that entertains people. We’ve done classical violins, big bands, and things like that. It’s not necessarily something that’s a genre – it’s a musical show. Whatever the best musical gift we can give – that’s what we go for.
Country Music Pride: You’ve done work with artists outside the country music world. You’ve assisted Aaron Lewis of Staind when he debuted a country record. You’ve also worked with Ted Nugent – What’s it like acting like an ambassador to those outside the country music world?
Charlie Daniels: I don’t look at it as if I represent the country music genre. If someone asks me to do something and it’s something I feel good about doing – I do it. Like I mentioned, we’ve jumped genres a few times. The thing is musicians can find common ground if they’re willing to do it. I can find common ground with anybody who knows three chords if they’re willing to take the time. Everyone has to give a little bit. If you’re going to sit in with somebody and do something together that’s meaningful everyone has to give a little bit. I have to give a little their way – they’re going to have to give a little my way. If everyone is willing – it can be a beautiful thing.
Country Music Pride: You’re going to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Back in May, you said you don’t have any words to describe the accomplishment aside from ‘humbled’ and ‘thankful’. Has that changed?
Charlie Daniels: No. It has not changed at all. I’m probably going to be expected to say something and I will then but I haven’t decided how to go about this one yet. It’s hard to articulate. I mean, where do you go for from here? Now, what do you shoot for? Career wise – where do you go? What’s the next thing? They’re are other things and I intend to go there but – this is kind of the mountain top. I’ve been writing non stop for years and could not find a good place to pause. When they put the medallion around my neck I will finally find a pausing place – not a stopping place – but a pausing place where I can tie everything together. It’s kind of like – my gosh – full circle. We started in one direction and came all the way back around to this.
Country Music Pride: Your new album ‘Night Hawk’ recently came out. You’ve always created genuine and organic music. There are other country artists that write music aimed at a radio friendly market. Do you ever feel a back and forth between the music you write and the music other mainstream artists write?
Charlie Daniels: I pay little attention to what anyone else is doing. We just go in our studio and do it the way we want to do it. The way others do it is fine but we do it differently. We’re not affected by what others are doing. We don’t necessarily have to put a radio record out – it’d be great- but we don’t have to. We just do our thing while everyone else does theirs. It’s just two different kinds of music – there’s no reason to create any problems with each other.
Country Music Pride: Night Hawk has a true country roots feel with a very cowboy-esq vibe to it. While recording, do you ever find yourself getting into the mindset of the characters in the songs to help produce those feelings in the music?
Charlie Daniels: I don’t necessarily think of it in that kind of way. I do visualize the things I write about but the album you’re talking about is kind of a back porch album. Some of those songs, I’ve kept for years. I was looking for enough songs to do a working cowboy album – It’s just about working cowboys. It took me a couple of decades to get the amount of songs I was happy with.
Be sure to check out Charlie Daniels new album ‘Night Hawk’ here.