Growing Up with The Best There’s Ever Been
Just wanted to say that as therapeutic as these soapboxes have been, it blows my mind that for many years, dad did these TWICE a week! That won’t be happening anytime soon, but I’m going to do my best to keep them weekly.
People used to ask me what it was like growing up with a famous father, and often I would say that I didn’t have anything else to compare it to.
Ever since I could remember, this is what dad did for a living. He never worked a 9 to 5 job, so it just was what it was.
Some of my earliest memories are of dad coming home late after playing recording sessions, or some club in the area, I remember dad and I staying up late to watch reruns of “Mission: Impossible” until TV went off for the night.
I blame my dad for making me the night owl that I have been most of my life. I’ve just never been an early riser. Dad had to have the flexibility to be both. He stayed up later when he was on the road, and when he was at home – at least in his later years – he got up with the chickens, as they say.
The most obvious thing was that dad was gone a lot. He was a road dog, through and through, and unfortunately, he wasn’t around as much as we would have liked. But that’s just the nature of the business. He loved what he did, and what he did enabled him to provide for us.
It was particularly challenging for my mom, because for a lot of the year, it was almost like being a single mom, in as much as it was just the two of us a lot of the time.
I love my mom, she’s an amazing lady. But growing up, she for some reason felt that since I was an only child, she needed to aggravate me like an older sibling would.
I don’t put much stock in horoscopes, but I was born at the end of April, which makes me a Taurus. And whether or not astrology plays into this at all, I can be extremely stubborn. Sometimes that comes through as determination, but sometimes it comes through as bullheaded.
Mom would frequently comment on how stubborn I was – still does – but let me let you in on a little secret…
She’s at least as stubborn as I am, if not more.
She used to say that I would argue with a fence post, to which I would eventually say, “But you’d be right there taking the fence post’s side!”
I love you, mom. I can at least be lovingly stubborn in that.
Things that other kids didn’t have to deal with that I did, junior high school comes to mind.
I’d be walking down the hallways and frequently I’d hear, “Hey, Charlie, how’s your dad doing?” as opposed to “How are you doing?” I have to admit that it started getting on my nerves.
One time someone asked me how my dad was, and I said, “Great, how’s yours?”
I don’t think they were expecting that.
For a while it started bugging me to the point that when I went away to college, I started introducing myself as “Charles” instead of “Charlie.” Sometimes people would make the connection, eventually, but I felt like some people had a preconceived notion of what I was like, a potentially spoiled celebrity’s son.
Dad did spoil mom and I, but I was always taught to respect what I had, because many people didn’t have the material blessings we had, and I know he worked hard for everything he got for us.
The holidays were always special, dad was home, and as a bonus, after Christmas, I went on the road with the band, and for many of my younger years, I was a virtual “Mini-Me” to dad, complete with hat, boots, a vest and even a pocket watch.
The times on the road were fun, and I got to see dad work. It was easy to take it for granted, but dad was incredibly talented. I remember watching some video from the second Volunteer Jam with him about 30 years ago, and I was blown away watching him make a guitar sing the way he did. He was known for the fiddle, but that was only a small fraction his shows. He was a great, great guitar picker.
One of the most memorable moments was around 1979 or 80, The CDB was touring with a horn section, and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers who were a staple of The Grand Ole Opry for years. I got to know the Smathers family of cloggers from our time on the road together and became friends with them.
Let me be clear, I can NOT clog, but I can fake it enough that someone who doesn’t really know what clogging is supposed to look like think that I know what I’m doing, at least I could back then.
So, we decided to have me come out on stage, unbeknownst to dad. While he was playing his encore, “Orange Blossom Special,” the Smathers family all came out in pairs, do-si-doed and promenaded and so on. I had borrowed one of their red checkered shirts, but since I didn’t have a partner, I watched backstage until I they broke into a line, and then ran out onto the stage and got in line with them. I’m pretty sure dad’s bearded jaw hit the stage, and he missed a few licks in the song.
I did my best to fake-clog along with the professionals, but after a while I noticed he wasn’t looking over at the cloggers anymore and I started to wonder if I made him mad at me (and the cloggers) for our little fun.
Since it was the last song, I ran up to him as we were walking off stage and hugged him and told him I was sorry if I upset him. He laughed and said, “Son, I wasn’t upset, I just couldn’t figure what was going on at first, I thought somebody was after you and somehow got past Skinny, and Cheapshot and you were running for me as your last resort!”
It was a priceless memory.
I’ve got lots more, but this will do for now. My mom and I still appreciate all the prayers and we will always need them, but they are definitely needed now.
Thank you all.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, our country and the Peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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