Posted on 06.17.2022

That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 9: Midnight Wind

The CDB’s 8th album would be the end of the Paul Hornsby era. He had been the band’s producer since ‘Fire on the Mountain’ and it also would be the last album with drummer Don Murray.

The album had some challenges. One of the biggest being the album cover. Since dad came from the relatively small Kama Sutra Records imprint of Buddah, he was used to being very hands-on with the album cover design. There apparently weren’t any issues with CBS/Epic on the first two albums under their imprint, ‘Saddle Tramp’ and ‘High Lonesome,’ but when it came to the cover of what would eventually be called 'Midnight Wind', dad had his idea and had an artist working on a concept which would have been a winding road at night with “The Charlie Daniels Band” and “Midnight Wind” written in an embossed silver reflective foil and the winding road continued to the back of the album leading to the Alamo Café which is referenced in the title song.

Epic had a different idea.

They wanted to use this black and white photo of a man and a woman in an old car from the 30s or 40s and the emblem of the car was a stylized “CDB.”

Dad hated the idea.

What they finally ended up with was a compromise, a cover everyone could hate equally.

The name wasn’t as cut and dry either, from what I understand, dad wanted to originally call the album, “Hammer.” I had a conversation with a former radio guy a few years ago, and he gave me a little more information. Apparently, dad told someone, maybe who worked at the same station, that he was thinking about calling the album “Hammer.” What I THINK happened, is that the guy dad told his plans to another guy at the same station who told this other radio guy and he decided to have some fun with dad… so he was doing an interview and told dad that he had heard he was going to call the album 'Hammer.' From what radio guy said, dad was taken aback and abandoned the name altogether.

So… legend or not, that’s what I was told.

Now onto the music…

‘Midnight Wind’ kicks off with… you guessed it… “Midnight Wind.” It’s a smokin’, dark, eerie, rockin’ uptempo about a mysterious stranger who shows up at the Alamo Café and sweeps a young woman – possibly a waitress there – off her feet and they go to her home together.  She didn’t trust him, but that doesn’t keep her from loaning him money or letting him drive her car.

Eventually, he disappears, and she sometimes thinks she hears his footsteps, but it’s really that midnight wind that is blowing. There’s nothing really supernatural about the song, but it’s still kinda eerie.

Next up is “Sugar Hill Saturday Night” - which dad wrote, but Taz sang - which describes a place… it’s not really specified, but it must be a town or area of a town because it describes a lot of less than reputable people, music and music venues, “A juke joint they call Big Mama and a joint called the Rising Sun” and the festivities last from Friday evening to Sunday night. 

The song lends its name to a hill on mom and dad’s Twin Pines Ranch, in fact, Sugar Hill is home to the two pine trees which dad named the ranch for, long before Marty McFly clipped a tree from a different set of pine trees in “Back to the Future.” 

Speaking of Twin Pines

The next song is a special one, he wrote it for mom and even dedicated it to her on the album’s liner notes, it’s called “Heaven Can Be Anywhere (Twin Pines Theme)” and it’s one of the sweetest songs that dad ever wrote.


“And while we’re dreamin’ baby

You don’t have to wonder, maybe

Heaven can be anywhere

As long as you’re there.”


Without getting too far away from the album breakdown, I have to tell a quick story about this song. When dad was sued by Acuff-Rose publishing for allegedly plagiarizing a song called “Bad News” with “Long Haired Country Boy,” the case went to trial, and dad went on the witness stand with his guitar. There was apparently a mild similarity between the two songs, but dad probably won the case when he played the melody for “Heaven Can Be Anywhere” AND then played the melody for Randy Vanwarmer’s hit, “Just When I Needed You Most.”

Listen to the songs, the melodies are nearly identical in places.

Randy had a huge hit with his song, but dad wrote and released his first.

Dad pointed out the similarities on the witness stand and asked, “Should I sue Randy?”

I think that was what won the case, and it established a precedent that two separate minds can independently put together musical notes in a similar fashion.

“Maria Teresa” is a Spanish-flavored song which at least partially came from the name of the nanny who worked for dad’s friend and mentor, Bob Johnston in Nashville.

The song is about a cowboy who is heading down to Mexico to see his girl who is a “Rich Señor’s daughter.” The cowboy says he’d fight him and half of Texas for her.

“Indian Man” is about the plight of Native Americans, 

“You didn't fit the white man's plan
So he herded you off down the Trail of Tears”

“From the East they came

With the Calvary soldiers and the wagon train

With a treaty of peace and a rifle in their hands”

It also mentions several tribes by name. 

The song was inspired by Buddy Redbow who we met when dad was recording at legendary Colorado recording studio, Caribou Ranch a few years before, and the song is dedicated to Buddy.

“Grapes of Wrath” borrows the title and concept of John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” but dad tells a different story than the book and later movie adaptations.

Like the book, it tells the story of Oklahomans or "Okies" as we prefer, who were forced to move to California after the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The song tells the story of a man from Oklahoma and his wife, Ruby, who travel to California and the man works as a sharecropper for the richest man in town.

His employer had eyes for his wife and sexually assaults her while her husband is working in the fields.

After getting no justice from the local police, he takes matters into his own hands and blows up his employer’s mansion with thirteen sticks of dynamite, but we never learn the couple’s fate.

Next up is the rowdy fiddle tune, “Redneck Fiddlin’ Man” which has always been one of my favorites. The song could probably have been a radio hit if it was a little shorter, but at 5:15 when a lot of stations didn’t want to play anything longer than 5 minutes – with the exception of the AOR (Album Rock Radio) format – it had to be content with being a very cool album cut.

As the song’s title suggests, it describes a fiddler performing in a local bar. Two “boys from town” came into the bar and criticize the man for not playing rock & roll, the fiddler then plays some rock, mountain soul, blues, and jazz, just to show that he could do it all.

Sound like anyone you know? In fact, dad re-recorded the song and made it the title track for his 2002 album.

Tommy Crain is featured on the next song “Ode to Sweet Smoky” which is a love song to Tennessee – a frequent subject of Tommy’s songs – in this case, it’s to the Great Smoky Mountains, but it’s ambiguous enough because he says “that she was the first girl I’d ever seen Dressed in a robe of tall evergreens.” Still another memorable song from Tommy.

“Good Ole Boy” is a fun song, but it’s kind of strange… much of the lyrics were recycled from “Billy Joe Young” from ‘Te John Grease and Wolfman’ which Taz sang. Much of the groove is left intact with more emphasis on the guitar work, and the song is sung from the first-person instead of third-person like “Billy Joe Young,” so… can we say that “Good Ole Boy” is the same story but told from BJY’s perspective? Seems likely.

 The album finishes up with “Black Bayou,” another fun uptempo about a man who’s lost his money playing poker, kicked out of his woman’s bed, ends up in jail and his best friend won’t even acknowledge that he knows him, to which he threatens his “friend” and he vows that he won’t ever forget his name once he gets out of jail, but everything seems to be the result of an “ill wind” or “evil breeze” which put the hoochie-coo on him.

Or could it have been the same “Midnight Wind" that blew through the Alamo Café? Food for thought.

This has turned into the longest soapbox on the CDB albums so far, but I have to mention… unfortunately the album is out of print, not available on streaming, and never officially released on CD by Epic/Sony… however…

It was released as an import in 2009 as “Midnight Wind …Plus” which added three live tracks from the ‘Volunteer Jam III and IV” album, but the “…Plus” version is also out of print, but it’s available from sellers on Amazon, but for a pretty penny, over $75.00.

Hopefully we can do something to fix that in the near future.

Aside from the two previously mentioned songs, the album as a whole was dedicated to Duane Allman and Berry Oakley from the Allman Brothers:

“Dedication to Duane Allman and Berry Oakley

Lest We Forget,

Smoke and fire, thunder and lightning, nipped in the bud of full bloom leaving memories and magic ringing across the years. – Charlie Daniels 1977

As I mentioned last time, this was the end of the Capricorn Studios/Paul Hornsby era.

Major changes were coming, and so was unimaginable success.

What do you think?

Let’s all make the day count!

Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.

God Bless America!

#BenghaziAintGoingAway #End22

—  Charlie Daniels, Jr.



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Love em All
Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie Jr, you cannot imagine how much I enjoy reading all the behind the scenes history about your dad. I was reminded of Grapes Of Wrath while back when Dwight Yoakam was telling about how the way not only Okies were treated by California, but all dust bowl era migrant workers. This haunted Buck Owens all of his life. I have often wondered if Wynn Stewart, Merle & Buck would have had the Bakersfield Sound with Fender?. As your future soapboxes will show, major changes can be a good thing. Last but not least, your line "What they finally ended up with was a compromise, a cover everyone could hate equally." is a classic, kinda reminds me of the setting president.......nuff said God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy