Posted on 02.08.2023

That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 40: Night Hawk

In 2016, the CDB released ‘Night Hawk.’ 

In between the Dylan album and ‘Night Hawk’ there was another live CD and DVD recorded at Billy Bob’s Texas, but this sadly would be the last official album of new CDB - or rather Charlie Daniels – recordings. Once again, “The” and “Band” were dropped from the official moniker.

2016 was a landmark year for dad in many ways, first of all, he would turn 80-years-old in October, he got an exhibit at The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and he got to top it all off by being welcomed into the Hall of Fame as a member.

And for a man who was turning 80, he was still doing over 100 dates a year, so he was quite busy, so squeezing in an album of new music was going to be tight, but he decided to do something he had wanted to do for quite some time, an album of just plain ol’ cowboy songs.

This album was also the first released through new distributor, Bob Frank Distribution. The Megaforce deal was ending, and recoding began before all the ink was dry on the new distribution deal for Blue Hat, so a choice was made to not release it as Blue Hat, but rather CDC Records. This was the only album to ever bear that record label name.

Dad was a huge fan of cowboys, it showed in his attire and he had already done a cowboy album in 1997, although that one was geared to kids.

Probably for the sake of time and costs – as well as trying to stay true to the time period in which many of the songs are set – it was an all-acoustic affair again.

One other notable behind-the-scenes change, if you look at the liner notes on the CD you will notice that under the performers, for percussion only engineer Casey Wood is listed and that is because Pat McDonald who played drums for seventeen years left for personal family reasons. Later in 2016, Ron Gannaway would become the newest member of the CDB, but with only sparse percussion needed on an acoustic cowboy album, Casey filled in until Ron was hired for the road, but Ron’s only recording with the band was on the ‘Volunteer Jam XX’ live album from 2017.

That gets all of the particulars out of the way, so onto the music of the ‘Night Hawk’ album.

“Big Balls in Cowtown” kicks off with a bang, made famous by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, but has been covered by many artists over the years, including George Strait featuring Asleep at the Wheel and while the title may sound provocative, the original title by Hoyle Nix in 1949 was “A Big Ball’s in Cowtown” and is about a local dance party rather than any masculine anatomical parts.

“Billy the Kid” was originally on the ‘High Lonesome’ album, and tells the story of the legendary outlaw as he’s being hunted by lawman Pat Garrett.

It’s less of a story song, than it is just a character study.

Gone are the screaming Les Pauls from the original, the guitar work has more of a Spanish Classical sound, 

“Night Hawk” was originally recorded by C.W. McCall of “Convoy” fame back in 1977, it’s about a mysterious cowboy who doesn’t mind riding the night shift - hence the name Night Hawk – who shows up while the cattle drive hasn’t been able to find water for several days.

He’s a man of few words who lost his family in a range fire, which also seemingly burned out his spirit, leaving him to prefer to ride all night by his lonesome.

“Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” is pure Western swing, and the second Bob Wills song on the album. 

It’s about a dance, and the host of the dance doesn’t want everyone to leave, and keeps coming up with excuses to keep the party going.

Someone - and I’m thinking it was Chris Wormer - plays one heck of a killer acoustic guitar solo in the song. 

“Goodnight-Loving Trail” was originally written and recorded by Utah Phillips in 1976. It takes its name from the trail from Texas to Wyoming taken by Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving to sell cattle to Fort Sumner.

It’s a bit of a lamenting song, sung from what appears to be the cook on the chuckwagon who was once a cowboy, but now is too old, so he beats the triangle to call everyone to dinner, and the trail was so dry at times that “If dirt was a kingdom, then you’d be a king,” and a wind so strong it feels like it’s going to rip the very skin from their faces.

“(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” is probably the best-known cowboy song of all time, although “I’m An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)” might be right on its heels.

“Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” was the original title when it was recorded by Stan Jones – who was also the writer – and it has been covered countless times by everyone from Bing Crosby, to Peggy Lee to Johnny Cash, to The Outlaws - who did a killer rocked out version in 1980 – just to name a few.

It’s the tale a cowboy’s vision of riders eternally cursed with chasing a heard of demonic cattle through the skies, and the riders warn the cowboy that if he doesn’t change his ways, he too will be damned to join them on their endless chase.

“Running With the Crowd” was originally recorded on the 1976 ‘High Lonesome’ album. Both versions have an older wiser cowboy giving advice to a group of younger cowboys and he’s having to spell everything out for them. Everything from “size doesn’t make a man small” and “six guns don’t make a man tall.

And let me tell you, Bruce Brown plays a mean harmonica on this song.

It’s one of two songs on this album that – to me – would be perfect for the TV show “Yellowstone,” it just really fits with the vibe of the show. 

“Old Chisolm Trail” is another old cowboy standard, one that goes all the way back to the 1800s. Its frequent refrain, 

“Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea, youpy yea
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea”

echoes throughout the song, as the singer relates troubles one after another that have transpired along the Old Chisholm Trail.

This is another one of those cowboy songs that has been covered by more singers than you can count. It’s a cowboy standard.

“Can’t beat the Damned Ole Machine” was written by longtime CDB keyboard player, Taz DiGregorio, and frequent collaborator, Greg Wholgemuth.

It’s about an old cowboy talking to a stranger about how the land and his way of life has been pushed aside by machinery and progress, because in the end, “you can’t beat the damned ole machine,” and it features one of the best play on words I can ever remember, the old cowboy says “I’ve heard it said, ever since I was a small child, that cowboys and engines just don’t get along.

It’s the other song on this album that screams “Yellowstone” to me, or one of the other Taylor Sheridan shows that are interconnected with the original show.

I would love to see it happen, dad was a fan of the show, and I know he would have loved to see it happen in his lifetime.

“Yippie Ki Yea” is a familiar closing lullaby if you listened to ‘By the Light of the Moon: Cowboy Songs and Campfire Tunes,’ but it goes further back than that. Dad has a children’s story that we hope to develop into a movie or series, and the father sings this song to his son who has been playing cowboy all day long.

I wonder who dad had in mind when he wrote it…

But it signals the end of the trail, and the end of the album.

The horse in the cover photo is TP New Beginnings, the surviving bloodline of King Bear the stallion whose bloodline built Twin Pines Ranch. Two studs who were offspring of King Bear were in the Twin Pines barn when it burned to the ground in 2011, but this beautiful creature had been born from a mare and King Bear before he died in 2010.

And for the second time, and for the second time in a row, dad dedicated albums to people he had dedicated to previously. 

He dedicated ‘Honey in the Rock’ and 2014’s ‘Off the Grid-Doin’ it Dylan’ to Bob Johnston, and now he dedicates another album to rodeo legend, Casey Tibbs, the first one being 1989’s ‘Simple Man.’

“Dedication to Casey Tibbs

Nobody rode a bronc like Casey,

He set ‘em high,

Wide and handsome

Proud and tall,

Loyal friend and

A cowboy to the bone.

Charlie Daniels 2016”

At this point in his career, dad was worrying less about commercial success and more on doing music that meant something to him, and to his fans.

Check out ‘Night Hawk’ HERE 

Well, sadly, this was the last official Charlie Daniels album of new material, BUT not the last album of new material.

Next, we come to dad’s final album of new music, and it’s not a CDB album, Geau, Beau Weevils!

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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Check Out The Charlie Daniels Podcast!

Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'




Amen, Amen & Amen Charlie Jr, the older I get the more amazed I am at your dads energy level. I will never forget when I got the CD in the mail. The wife and I took a drive just to listen too it without being interrupted. It started out great with “Big Balls in Cowtown” and with the Bob WIlls songs I was reminded of Waylon's song "Bob WIlls Is Still The King".....Another amazing classic album from your dad....nuff said God Bless Plowboy
Posted by Plowboy