That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 36: Live From Iraq
As great and as acclaimed as the ‘Songs From the Longleaf Pines’ album was, it didn’t allow me to talk about one of the most significant changes within the CDB, because it wasn’t a Charlie Daniels Band album, and that was the return of Chris Wormer to the band.
This was monumental on multiple fronts, first of all, if you quit the band, dad had no hard feelings. He wished you well in your endeavors, but you were done with the CDB. Dad didn’t want a revolving door band with people coming and going. You were committed to the band, or you were not.
Chris never wanted to leave the band. He did what he had to do for personal reasons, and it was what he felt he needed to do, even though it wasn’t what he wanted.
Then in January of 2005, the CDB was to perform on one of the biggest stages of all, pregame at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, FL. Gretchen Wilson had been invited to perform, along with Black Eyed Peas. The theme for the Super Bowl was “Bridges” because the City of Jacksonville has so many of them.
The NFL used that theme to bridge the age gap between the current bands and their heroes, BEP chose Earth, Wind & Fire and Gretchen chose dad.
There was just one small problem.
CDB guitar player, Mark “Sparky” Matejka, had been involved with a band as a side project with Little Texas co-founder, Brady Seals, called Hot Apple Pie.
In January of 2005, Sparky told dad that the band had gotten signed, so he needed to leave the CDB.
This was about a week or so before the Super Bowl pregame show, and dad took a chance and reached out to Chris to see if maybe he was available. He jumped at the chance, and he stayed with the CDB until July 6, 2020.
Things didn’t work out so well for Hot Apple Pie, Sparky left in 2006 and they disbanded in 2008, but don’t feel too bad for Sparky, he’s been playing around with a little band called Lynyrd Skynyrd for the past 15 years or so. Maybe you’ve heard of them…
How does all of this relate to ‘Live From Iraq’?
Trust me, I’m getting to that.
In 2005, the CDB went on one of their first trips to entertain the troops in the Middle East, right in the heart of the War on Terror through our good friend, Judy Seale, and her organization, Stars for Stripes.
Chris went on the 2005 trip, but when the band went again in 2006, he felt like he should stay behind.
It was decided when the band went back in 2006, they would record a live album from the bases that were actually in Iraq, hence ‘Live from Iraq.’
I’m going to talk less about the individual tracks this time because I’ve already covered most of these songs over and over, so I’m going to gloss over most of them, except when I think it needs more detail
So, on we go.
We start off with the one song that wasn’t live, it’s the introduction that was used for the last several years the band performed, but most people probably don’t know was that it was an original composition by dad… and Chris Wormer.
Dad and Wormey started writing a symphonic piece, I don’t know if it would be correct to say a whole symphony, because I don’t think they ever finished it, but they had aspirations of performing it along with a symphony orchestra at some point, but it just didn’t work out, but after the ‘Tennessee Waltz’ it announced the CDB was about to take the stage.The piece's name, "Notte Perricolosa," means "Night of Danger" and is a fitting track to start a concert in a war zone with.
From there, the CDB goes right into “In America” which was a perfect way to kick things off considering the audience, and he used the updated “Our enemies” instead of “The Russians” as well as the original “Pittsburgh Steelers Fan” instead of the local sports teams he would always try to do when he would perform live, but when you’re dealing with men and women from all over the country, there would be no way to make everybody happy.
Then, the classic “The South’s Gonna Do It (Again)” was up next followed by “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” the coolest ghost story song ever – in my book, but shortly before going into “Wooley Swamp” dad brings greetings from the United States of America and thanks them for allowing the band to entertain them for a while.
Next, dad introduces “Saddle Tramp” which he started doing again in his shows in his later years. I think he liked being able to showcase the whole band on a classic CDB song.
“Simple Man” is up next, and dad introduces it by saying that the lowest form of life on earth is a child molester, and he’s not wrong.
Next up is “Iraq Blues.” Dad introduces the song by saying that he wrote a verse when the band was there in 2005, and he wrote another verse, but had writers block until he got back on this current trip and he wrote the second verse, and jokingly said that if he came back a few more times he could have a whole song.
It’s about getting home from Iraq and loving your baby like she’s never been loved before, and before that, dad takes shots at CNN and the New York Times, much to the delight of the crowd.
By the way, the song did get finished in 2010 and was finally released as a digital single and later on the compilation album “Land that I Love.”
The instrumental “Floreeda Road” is up next and the guitar work is fantastic as always, followed by “Long Haired Country Boy” with the updated lyrics including the “tell another joke” line.
Then we take a trip out to LA with “Uneasy Rider” with updated lyrics and “Dale Earnhardt would have sure been proud” line.
The rendition of “How Great Thou Art” that dad performed was a special one as it was recorded on the evening of Easter Sunday. Dad tells the story of spending a sunrise service with the troops that morning. Just because the song affects me the way it does, I passed it by in my research, but I know it was powerful, because it always is. I just didn’t need the wave of emotion it usually brings today.
“Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye” is up next and rocks as hard as ever. It is, after all, the rowdiest breakup song ever – in my opinion.
Then dad brings some Tennessee hospitality which probably didn’t sit too well with some of the audience, at least those Crimson Tide fans, Gator fans, Gamecocks fans, etc…
Dad even says that those folks won’t like this song too much because every time the Vols make a touchdown, they have to hear this song.
I took great pleasure in posting this version the night Tennessee beat Alabama in 2022. I know dad was watching from the best seat anywhere.
Of course, dad closes out the show with a little song called “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and tells them how much he has treasured being with them and that he’s taking them home with them in his heart, and they would be in his prayers.
That ended the show, but not the story of the album, because it required a LOT of work, and guess who was tasked with making this something presentable…?
Chris isn’t just a guitar player, he’s an engineer, he’s a ProTools whiz and has a great ear.
One day I went into the studio where Chris was working and he wanted to play me something. He played me part of a song that was very muddy sounding, it sounded like it was from a tape recorder that was on a stool at a bar recording a cover band’s happy hour performance. Then he clicked something on the screen and all of a sudden, it was like night and day.
It sounded like a proper live recording.
Chris had used various plugins for the ProTools setup which filtered out the lows and the muddy sound and properly balanced the tones into how it would have sounded if it had been recorded under normal circumstances.
And “normal circumstances” were not going to happen in Iraq.
The bad sound was not the fault of Bob Workman who recorded the performances as best he could while they were there, but you’re in a war zone and not always having the best situations to do a live recording, especially when you are trying to mix for the audience.
Chris later told me that they used part of two shows recorded - both of them actually from Iraq – Taliil and Fallujah, and he picked the best performances and did his best to edit them into what you hear on ‘Live from Iraq.’
Chris did do a little additional guitar overdub work, in fact, he’s credited with that on the album, but aside from a couple of minor fixes that were necessary, what you hear is what was performed live on the bases, as opposed to other live albums by very big bands who basically overdubbed the entire live records that were released, dad and the band were 99% what you hear is what you get, including dad’s vocals. In fact, towards the end of the tour, dad starts sounding kind of tired, something that wouldn’t have happened if it was a studio product.
I don’t think Wormey was ever given the proper credit for what he did to make this sound as good as it does. Personally, I think he deserved a Grammy or at least a CMA nomination, because this was a major undertaking.
I had some discussions with him about the recording before writing this just to make sure I covered everything properly, we may talk about it on the podcast soon. Who knows.
It’s worth noting that Wormey appears on the cover, although he was not on this tour, the picture was taken in 2005.
There was also a lot of video recorded while they were there, and the CD release included a DVD of interviews and behind-the-scenes material and a video of “The Star Spangled Banner” performed against the background of our brave men and women who were serving at the time.
Dad rightly dedicated the album to those brave heroes.
“I’ll never forget my trips to Iraq and having the honor of visiting with the heroes so far away from home who stand in harm’s way daily to keep the torch of freedom burning bright, and with great love, admiration, respect and gratitude, I dedicate this project to the men and women who wear the military uniforms of The United States of America, past, present and future.
God Bless them All.
Next time, two (or more) are better than one with Deuces!
Check out Live from Iraq HERE
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.
PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU POST
Feel free to comment on soapboxes, but please refrain from profanity and anonymous posts are not allowed, we need a name and you MUST provide a valid email address. If you provide an email address, but leave the name as "Anonymous" we will pick a name for you based on your email address. No one other than website administrators will see your email address, not other posters. If you post without a valid email address, your comment (whether positive or negative) will be deleted. — TeamCDB
Check Out The Charlie Daniels Podcast!
Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'