That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 37: Deuces
In 2007, the CDB released their second release of the year, a duets album.
Several names were batted around, “Double Down” “Double Trouble,” etc… but they landed on ‘Deuces.’
I remember walking in on the photo shoot for the cover, dad looked like a cross between Colonel Sanders and Dr. John, dressed all in white except for a silver tie, sunglasses, a Panama straw hat and a walking stick which also brings to mind images of John Hammond, Richard Attenborough’s character from the “Jurassic Park” films
The ‘Deuces’ album would be a mixture of covers – both CDB and others – as well as a few originals, including one written by the incomparable Dolly Parton.
So here we go.
Ray Charles’ classic “What’d I Say” kicks off the album with a bang and it features dad’s “Itty bitty buddy” Travis Tritt.
Dad and Travis trade lyrics on what is one of my favorite songs by the great Ray Charles.
This was the second time the two would collaborate, the first being 2003’s “Southern Boy” from the ‘Redneck Fiddlin’ Man’ album which dad and Travis co-wrote together in a writing session that also produced a song Travis recorded called “Southbound Train.”
Dad and Travis had a special bond that continued to the day dad died. Travis saw a mentor, and dad saw a lot of himself in this boy from Georgia.
Bonnie Bramlett may not be a household name, but you’ve probably heard her voice, but just didn’t know it, or saw her on TV at some point.
Bonnie and her ex-husband, Delaney Bramlett, toured with Eric Clapton in the late 60s and released a live album together in 1970. Later, Bonnie toured with The Allman Brothers Band, was featured on the first season of “Roseanne” – credited as Bonnie Sheridan – and her daughter Bekka is one of the most in demand backup singers in Nashville.
Dad and Bonnie go way back, so he wanted to include her on ‘Deuces’ so they chose Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”
Bonnie has a powerful voice and has mentored a lot of singers in her style, and her voice is on full display here, and it’s a fun take on a classic song.
Next, “Redneck Woman” Gretchen Wilson joins dad for a rockin’ version of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.”
This is the only time that dad and Gretchen got to perform together aside from the Super Bowl pregame show appearance in 2005, and an appearance in Gretchen’s “All Jacked Up” video, but this is a pretty special performance.
Gretchen counted dad as one of her heroes, so I know this was a treat for her. Gretchen has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. She came out of nowhere in 2005 and took country music by storm. I even heard her do a cover of Heart’s “Crazy On You” and KILLED it.
If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s about a couple whose “fire went out.” The man wants to go to Jackson to get wild and the woman tells him he’s just going to make a fool of himself.
The guitars scream a bit more than Johnny and June’s version, but I love hearing dad and Gretchen trade lines and some fun ad libs at the end.
Next, Vince Gill joins dad for The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” an examination of the post-Civil War south by the fictitious narrator, Virgil Caine.
The drum intro brings to mind a military march as Virgil relates his story.
Dad and Vince’s voices couldn’t be more different, Vince sings in a much higher register and after dad had surgery on his vocal cords to remove nodes in 2000, dad learned how to sing the “right” way from vocal coach, Renee Grant-Williams, and tended to sing in a lower register much of the time, but with Vince, dad seemed to try to meet in the middle a little bit so things didn’t sound as drastic as it did on the version of “Long Haired Country Boy” from the ‘Blues Hat’ album.
It’s definitely worth a listen.
“Maggie’s Farm” is a Bob Dylan tune with an assist from Earl, Gary and Randy Scruggs, and Randy’s vocals sound not too dissimilar from Mr. Zimmerman’s original.
It’s about a man who’s forced to work on Maggie’s farm, for Maggie’s brother, for Maggie’s pa and has had enough with the unfavorable conditions and is ready to call it quits, and proceeds to give his reasons.
If it weren’t a Dylan song, it would sound right at home on the ‘Songs From the Longleaf Pines’ album with Earl’s banjo, dad’s fiddle and the Scruggs siblings pickin’ away.
It’s one of the more unique songs on this package.
Speaking of unique, who is more unique than Dolly Parton?
When Dolly was approached for the album, dad asked her to think about a song she might like to record, well, she thought about it, and apparently couldn’t think of anything.
So, she wrote something instead.
And it worked perfectly, “Daddy’s Old Fiddle,” tells the story of a fiddle that was passed down through the family. Daddy made a little money playing fiddle, and Bill Monroe offered him a job playing fiddle, but he turned it down because he would have missed his family too much, but he was there for every local pie supper, square dance and election day playing Cotton Eyed Joe and Sally Goodin.
On the day Daddy died, the child telling the story took the fiddle and played “Amazing Grace” on Daddy’s old fiddle.
Dolly threw in a very clever fiddle pun in one of the verses, “it rosin-ates throughout my soul.” Rosin… fiddle…
Well-played, Dolly… well-played…
See what I did there…?
Two can play that game.
Next, we get a double shot – no pun intended – of Bob Dylan – when dad and Darius Rucker perform a lively version of “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Dad and Darius have fun with the tune. Taz puts his own spin on the infamous B3 sound that Al Kooper put on the original 1965 recording, and at time it sounds like it’s a little further back in the mix on the chorus than it was in Dylan’s.
But Darius is one of the best voices around, and I’ve enjoyed him back in his days with Hootie and the Blowfish, and this cover does nothing to make me change my mind about how good he is.
Dylan songs were pretty good to Darius, about a decade later he’d have a hit with a song built around an unfinished Dylan song called “Rock Me Mama” which was later finished by Ketch Secor as “Wagon Wheel.”
“Evangeline” is a song co-written by dad and Hal Ketchum. Hal and dad each demoed the song years ago, but never commercially released it, but dad invited the great Del McCoury to put a bluegrass spin on this Wooley Swamp flavored song which – in its original form – would have fit well on the Beau Weevils album.
It’s about a young Cajun girl who would sneak out at night to meet Marcel, the son of a rich man, at a local Baptist church when his father left for work.
One night she went out to meet Marcel, and the night fog moved in and she got lost in the swamp never to be seen again along with Marcel, but you can hear what sounds like her calling to her love in the swampy winds.
“And on certain nights…”
Dad could tell great stories.
Dad really wanted to do a song with the incomparable “Little Miss Dynamite” Brenda Lee, and they chose “Let it Be Me,” by The Everly Brothers.
Most people don’t realize that the song was originally written in French and recorded by Gilbert Bécaud as “Je t’appartiens,” which means, “I belong to you.”
This is the only duet love song I can ever think of dad ever recording. Dad did record a live version of a song called “Falling in Love For the Night” with Crystal Gayle at one of the Volunteer Jams, but that was a story song.
This one is soft and tender, everything that you don’t think of when you think of dad.
But it’s a beautiful song, with a beautiful little lady, one who would go on to induct dad into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, even if she had to stand on the “Brenda Box” – because of her diminutive height - and was getting over being sick.
We come back to the classic CDB songs with “Long Haired Country Boy,” featuring Brooks and Dunn. Personally, I prefer this version to the ‘Blues Hat’ version. I think the three voices just blend better than the three on that version.
It’s not a totally different arrangement from the one on ‘Blues Hat’ but it works much better to me.
And for the record, Kix sings the “Tell another Joke” line, for those of you keeping score.
There’s an interesting story about the next song, “God Save Us All From Religion.”
On my birthday in 2004, we were celebrating at Morton’s in downtown Nashville which just happened to be the same night as the GMA Dove Awards at the Ryman Auditorium where songwriters Kim Williams and Doug Johnson had just picked up Country Recorded Song of the Year awards for Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses.”
Dad had written with Kim before, and I knew Doug who had helmed Giant Records for a time as well as being one of the busiest record producers in town.
I saw the two come in and I mentioned it to dad, the two and their wives were dressed up and I realized the Doves had gone on earlier, and figured “Three Wooden Crosses” had won something at the awards.
Dad sent a bottle of champagne over. Before we left dad and I talked with Doug and Kim, and they confirmed the win. Me being the pushy music publisher I was at the time said that the three of them should get together and write sometime.
Dad was able to make work it into his schedule, and this is the song that was born.
The song’s title is provocative, to say the least, but it’s not putting down religion, per se, but it does point out how some organized religion can miss the point of Jesus’ teaching of love in favor of strict dogma.
Marty Stuart joined dad on the track which warns of hypocrites, liars and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The song is framed by two men in a bar, and one man building a castle of his empty beer cans and starts spouting some of his bar room philosophy or religion, “the Jews and the Muslims, the “isms” and the “wasms” and ten thousand flavors of Christians.”
At the end of the song, the castle falls and the man says that if it was up to religion, he’d go straight to hell, but with God’s mercy and faith, and saving grace, he’s forgiven.
Next, two boys from Kentucky join dad for what I have proclaimed as “the rowdiest breakup song of all time,” “Drinking’ My Baby Goodbye.”
They all sound great together, and this makes the second CD/MG collaboration, the first being Montgomery Gentry’s cover of “All Night Long” featuring dad from their debut album, ‘Tattoos and Scars.’
It’s a pretty straightforward cover, and it’s a song that both Eddie and T-Roy knew pretty well, and – as always – the song rocks!
Finally, we end with an instrumental, which is surprising for an album of duets, but it features a fittingly named backup band, Double Trouble, backup band for the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a little guitar picker by the name of Brad Paisley.
He’s not bad.
Anyway, the result is a work of bluesy rock art that Stevie Ray would have no doubt approved of.
After a few dedications to veterans and active military, dad dedicated ‘Deuces’ to LEOs, law enforcement officers and first responders.
“To the brave men and women of the law enforcement agencies and the fire departments of this nation
To those who protect the highways and patrol our borders.
To that Thin Blue Line who spend their midnights in the high crime areas of the dangerous city back streets...
Charlie Daniels 2007”
It’s a bit lengthy, and this has been a pretty lengthy album breakdown, so check it out on the CD for the full dedication.
And I would be negligent if I didn’t mention that the performance of “Maggie’s Farm” with the Scruggs clan was dedicated to the memory of Louise Scruggs who passed away in 2006.
After dad went home in 2020, six more songs were added to the compilation - which never got the attention it deserved - "Waco" with Garth Brooks from 'Redneck Fiddlin' Man,' the aforementioned "Southern Boy" featuring Travis Tritt, "The South's Gonna Do It (Again)" with Keith Urban, but just on guitar, "Texas" featuring Lee Roy Parnell and Ray Benson from Asleep at the Wheel from the 'Fiddle Fire' album, "Long Haired Country Boy" with John Berry and Hal Ketchum from 'Blues Hat,' and "All Night Long" from Eddie and Troy's debut album, 'Tattoos and Scars' and it was repackaged as Charlie Daniels and Friends - 'Duets,' in 2021. Check it out HERE
‘Deuces’ was a great tribute to a legendary career in 2007, and in 2021, ‘Duets’ was - and still is - a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived.
Next time, It’s time for some Christmas Joy to the World, bluegrass style.
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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