A Tale of Two Books - Soapbox Jr.
Thurman Mullins is the ranch manager for Twin Pines Ranch. He told me he had a book for me, one that he had almost dropped in the trash.
It turns out that he had given a photograph of Dad to the writer several years ago and had actually forgotten about it. Then he received a comp copy in the mail and was highly disappointed when he looked at the chapter about Dad.
First of all, I will not be naming the book or the author. I don’t want to give the book any promotion whatsoever, but I will talk a little bit about it.
It starts off nicely enough; as a young reporter, the author was denied passes from the CDB’s management company and concert promoter Sound Seventy Productions for a CDB show in Clarksville.
He was disappointed and was just kind of moping around near the venue when Dad spotted him. Dad ended up taking him backstage and hooking him up with passes.
What a nice anecdote with a happy ending; it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
If he had left it there, then all would be well, but the author – scratch that – writer, lets his politics get in the way from that point on and preferred to take shots at Dad after that initial happy little tale.
He insinuated that Southern pride was pure racism, and he criticized the last few Volunteer Jams for people who brought Confederate battle flags or had them tattooed on their arms. I guess he missed the sixteen Jams from the 70s through the 90s when that wasn’t considered so controversial.
Dad wrote about his feelings on the battle flag – no, it was not the official flag of the Confederate States of America, but rather a flag carried into battle by rebel soldiers, the overwhelming majority of which never owned slaves – in a soapbox in 2016.
For him, it was always about Southern pride and never about longing for the days of slavery again. Dad’s stance is something that most Southerners stand behind.
A perfect example of this comes from Dad’s ranch. For many years, Dad employed a cowboy named Leroy Crawford who was the best ranch hand Twin Pines ever had. Several of his sons also were hard working cowboys on the ranch over the years as well.
Leroy was born in Mississippi and was one hell of a team roper. He did so well in team roping competitions that he won a belt buckle at the Dixie Nationals, and he wore it proudly.
The buckle had the Confederate battle flag on it. Anytime anyone would question his choice to wear the buckle, he always answered, “I’m a Southerner.”
Did I forget to mention that Leroy was black?
He understood the meaning - Southern pride - and was able to divorce the association with the Confederacy.
I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist, and Dad never asserted that either. Dad wrote about growing up in the Jim Crow South and rising above prejudices that surrounded him, which included leaving his job at a creosote plant so that a black man named Louis Frost could keep his job.
Dad felt it was the right thing to do, Dad left to pursue music, and Louis eventually retired from the creosote plant.
So, I will go toe to toe against anyone who dares call Dad a racist. It just isn’t true.
But back to the trashcan-bound book…
The writer apparently holds a grudge because Dad became more conservative and reconnected with his faith. According to him, that made him a walking contradiction because he no longer wished to sing about getting high.
“Long Haired Country Boy” was released in 1974. Many people mature over the years and refocus their lives on what is truly important; God, family and country.
Then there are those that are stuck in the past.
He also goes on to say that “he heard” that Dad found religion when he fell off a horse.
That’s the biggest bunch of horse manure I’ve ever heard.
I could play that game too if I wanted to. I could say that “I heard” that the writer had relations with farm animals. No need for proof, just put out non-factual possibilities without the ability to back it up.
Again… pure horse manure.
First of all, Dad never fell off of any horse, he was an excellent rider when he was in his prime, and Dad had always been a Christian. He grew closer to Jesus in the mid-1980s, and made Him the priority of his life.
The writer also attributes a lot of alleged quotes to Dad, again, without any proof.
So, if you do stumble on the book, read it with a shaker of salt, and please don’t post the name of the writer or the book in replies to this soapbox, please.
I can, however, recommend another book that no only mentions dad, but it quotes him as well.
William Lee Golden from The Oak Ridge Boys begins a chapter in his book “Behind the Beard” called “Making Amends,” in which he quotes dad, “Forgiveness is as healing for us as it is for the one we forgive.”
That quote was originally followed by “Let’s all make the day count.” and it was one of his daily words of wisdom he tweeted every day.
“Making Amends” is a fitting title for the chapter, because William Lee pulls no punches about his life, and the mistakes he’s made. Just like Dad did, William Lee moved on from his old life and he’s walking a straighter and narrower path these days, but is candid about his earlier years.
I highly recommend William Lee’s book over the other one. Golden has no agenda – something the other book can’t say - other than telling his story, warts and all.
Here’s a funny story about William Lee as I wrap this up.
After the 2022 Country Music Hall of Fame medallion ceremony, I went to The Palm. I saw a man with a long white beard and a cowboy hat, but because a few hours earlier, during the profile of Keith Whitley, they showed Keith’s brother, who had a similar look as William Lee.
I asked if he was Keith’s brother, only to be embarrassed when I realized it was William Lee after all.
I didn’t remember seeing him when the members walked in, so it didn’t cross my mind.
William Lee and his table were good spirits about it, in fact, he bought our dinner, much to our surprise.
About a week after Thurman delivered the book he planned to throw in the trash, he texted me that he left another book that I would probably like much better, it was a copy of William Lee’s book, autographed to me,
Thanks for the years of friendship – See you at The Palm Restaurant.
Best Wishes Always
William Lee Golden 2023”
Thank you, Mr. Golden. I appreciate it, and thank you, Thurman, for inspiring this soapbox, and yes, I plagiarized a few details from you.
Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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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