That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 12: Windows & A Decade of Hits
In 1982, the CDB released ‘Windows.’ The break between album releases may seem longer than with previous albums, and that’s true, but 1981 still saw two CDB releases, ‘Volunteer Jam VIII’ and ‘The Saratoga Concert’ which was a concert video from Saratoga Springs, NY which was released on VHS tape and Laserdisc formats. The show also happened to be one of the first concerts broadcast on the then-new MTV network. You know, back when they actually played music.
And as a side note, George McCorkle from The Marshall Tucker Band told me that MTB was the first concert that MTV actually broadcast.
Needless to say, a lot has changed since then.
Anyway, back to ‘Windows,’ the band lineup and production team stayed the same for the third straight album, and the album had a lot of great songs.
So, let’s get to them.
The album kicks off with “Still in Saigon,” the biggest song that the CDB had that was not written by dad or anyone else in the band.
I remember being on the road with dad when he got the song pitched to him. The biggest thing I remember about the demo was that the drum intro was a lot longer, but the song struck a chord with dad, and after the door that was opened with “In America,” this was the other side of that door.
It’s a song about the plight of the Vietnam veterans, many of whom returned home to be criticized and spat upon after the politicization of the war. Many suffered from PTSD from the horrors that they saw there.
Dad felt it was the right song at the right time, and he was right. The song was a hit on the pop charts. I’m not sure if the label made a conscious decision to not work the song on the country format because it had such a rock edge to it, but that would make sense.
The CDB also got to perform “Still in Saigon” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on Saturday Night Live later in 1982.
But more importantly, it resonated with the vets who lived the song, and began a kinship with dad and veterans’ groups that lasted until the day dad died, and still continues to this day with The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project.
Next up is “Ain’t No Ramblers Anymore” which is all about traveling and seeing the world, and that so many people are content to not travel broadly. It’s a great song with lots of Taz’s piano throughout.
One line that was tweaked from the song’s live performance on “The Saratoga Concert” was changed from “a taste of red eye, women and the road” to “a taste for whiskey, women and the road.” I think there was some concern that the line might be heard as “Red-eyed women,” so the change was made.
Taz’s song for the album was “The Lady in Red.” It’s about a “lady of the evening” in Texas who murders her man, then goes on a multi-state crime spree. The twist is that clients are looking for her and her services, and then the law is looking for her. By the end of the song, she is found and the law has her surrounded. It’s left ambiguous if she went down in a firefight or not, but the devil waits for her so she can burn.
While “Jitterbug” “No Potion for the Pain” and “The Lady in Red” are unconnected, they almost form a trilogy of similar themes of crimes, be they crimes of passion or not.
“We Had It All One Time” is a melancholy reflection on the life of an older cowboy looking back on his life, and love, and how life goes “flying by in the blink of an eye” all he’s got left are memories, but he’d love to do it all again.
Next up is “Partyin’ Gal,” the story of a wealthy young woman who moves from Atlanta to Dallas, get her heart broken by a cowboy shortly after arriving and then goes hog wild partying all the time.
Later on, she picks up a preacher whose car has broken down and she seduces him, and takes him skinny dipping in the City Hall fountain. She escapes while the preacher gets caught in the buff.
“Ragin’ Cajun” is the story of Rupernac, a young Cajun who is doing 10 to life for a beer joint fight with a knife.
Two years later he hears that his little sister is now a heroin junkie who is being forced into prostitution in Buffalo. He breaks out of prison, finds his sister and sends her back home to Louisiana then goes looking for her pimp.
Rather than killing the pimp, he beats him senseless and “kicks him in his forked end” before returning to the prison to do his time, apologizing for his leaving and says “A feller owed me somethin’ and I had to make him pay, Besides I’m kind of proud, I’ve been a coonass all my life.”
This was released as a single, and they came up with a really hot mix for the song which included an echoed fiddle pluck, but unfortunately, that version has never been released, except on 45.
“Makes You Want to Go Home” is about the frustrations of struggling in the music business after having left home to become a musician, but those struggles lead to thoughts of just giving up and going back home, but knowing that “you can’t ever go home anymore.”
Dad knew those struggles well, and he offers this advice, “Hang in there, son, the reward will be worth it someday.”
“Blowing Along with The Wind” is about a man who sounds like a former love child of the sixties who marched for peace and was a bit of a drifter.
Now he’s older and looking back while being thankful for every minute God gives him, holding his woman’s hand and loves his life, and he tries to help people when he can.
“Nashville Moon” is Tommy Crain’s contribution to the album. About a lonely man thinking about the love he lost when he was a musician playing guitar in Nashville, he meets a girl at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Broadway.
He and the girl hit it off and they talk for quite a while, but then he starts telling “foolish lies,” and she abruptly gets up and leaves him standing alone on Broadway. He does say that he should have told her that he loved her, but “he thought it was too soon.” I kind of agree with him, telling a girl you just met in a bar that you love her is probably too soon, but apparently, he never found anyone else and still replays the memory over and over.
The last song on ‘Windows’ is “The Universal Hand.” Musically, it has an Egyptian feel, and the basic premise about the conflicts that have resulted from differing religions or, and puts forth that most world religions are basically the same and no matter what you call Him, they are all the same entity.
I think this is one that dad would like to have back – at least partially - in retrospect. Dad really delved into his Christian faith a few years after this song, and I think he would have tweaked it a little bit if he had it to do all over again, but the message of unity despite differences still holds true.
The album cover painting is a wraparound cover that has little representations of the album’s songs hidden throughout the painting which is fun to check out, especially if you have it on vinyl. You can find "The Lady in Red," the "Partyin’ Gal" and other songs represented.
‘Windows’ was dedicated to Pat Hines, who was one of the CDB’s truck drivers - who passed away when she was driving bobtail (without a trailer) and hit a slick spot and lost control of her rig.
“There’s something about a highway
Stretching like an endless black ribbon
Through an Arizona desert in the
Bright early morning sun.
There’s something about a highway
Winding through the late evening mists
Of the Mississippi bottom lands or
Reaching towards heaven across a tall
Wyoming mountain top.
Yes, there’s something about a highway
for us who spend the quiet hours of
darkness morning, always moving, a call
that beckons to the restless heart to come
and see what’s over the next hill.
You heard the call, you answered.
We’re gonna miss you Curly Que.
Charlie Daniels 1981”
A Decade of Hits:
Since there were only three new songs on the CDB’s first greatest hits package which was released in 1983, I decided to add them at the end of this soapbox rather than do one for only three songs.
The lone change to the band/producer lineup was the departure of drummer Jim Marshall. Dad decided not to replace him, so they moved forward with just Freddie Edwards as the lone drummer for the first time since 1973 or 1974.
The most notable of the three new songs was “Stroker’s Theme” recorded for the opening titles of the Burt Reynolds NASCAR movie, “Stroker Ace” and is incorrectly listed as “Stroker Ace” in the movie titles.
It begins with dad and Tommy playing twin banjos, and the verses were somewhat spoken ala “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
It’s a catchy tune, and some have said that it was the best thing about the movie. It was also the first official music video for a CDB song to be released. There were some scenes shot for a video of “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” for ‘The Saratoga Concert’ and some photos and b-roll for “Carolina, I Remember You,” but this was the first to be commercially released, even though it had no footage from the movie.
On a side note… somewhere - and I’m not sure where - there is a music video for “Uneasy Rider” shot back in 1973. We watched it one time on a movie screen in the house of Joe Sullivan – who managed dad back then – and then it seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Somewhere it exists, but I don’t know if it will ever be found.
“Let it Roll” was written by an Englishman named Paul Kennerly who had written a project that dad was involved with called ‘The Legend of Jesse James’ which also featured Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and The Band’s Levon Helm. He also went on to write songs for The Judds, Marty Stuart, Tanya Tucker and Patty Loveless just to name a few.
It’s about a father who gives his son a guitar and encourages him to play music for a living instead of doing something dangerous like mountain climbing or sailing.
The final new song is “Everytime I see Him” which I have found on old rehearsal/work tapes as “Getting High” which is what the character in the song is always doing “everytime I see him.”
Hip hop artist Whiz Khalifa said that “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” could be considered the first country rap song, but “Everytime I see him” sounds even more like a rap song, the rhyming scheme is just right there.
It’s got a fun groove.
The album’s cover is a beautiful photo-realistic painting that looks like a hand-tooled leather cover with cracked porcelain lettering and image of dad playing the fiddle. We still have the original cover art, along with the cover painting of ‘Windows.’
There was no actual dedication this time, but rather a lengthy piece about being blessed, but he ended it with:
“And so the last ten years are history
But let’s not call it a decade
Let’s call it the first decade
The first of many more”
And it was…
In fact, he was three years shy of 4 more decades.
Not too shabby at all.
Next time, I’m going to do my best to review an album that you’ve never heard before.
Yep! You read that correctly.
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!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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