Let’s all Make 2024 Count: A Year of CDB Landmarks - Soapbox Jr.
Goodbye 2023, hello 2024!
It’s a fresh start on another 365 days for us to seize and – as dad would say - make count, and if he was still here, I have no doubt he would still be making his days count.
He always did.
We actually have one more day to make count since this is a Leap Year.
But since he’s not here to make the days count anymore, it’s up to us to try to live up to the high standard he set for himself and always encouraged others to do.
But for me, it’s more personal.
Dad’s not here to make things count, so I feel like it’s up to me to not only make my days count, but also make Dad’s days continue to count, even in his absence, and that is my goal, my resolution for 2024.
If Dad was still with us, 2024 would be a year full of celebrations, because 1974, 1979 and 1989 were full of landmarks which will always deserve celebrating, and it just works out that so many of these anniversaries line up together considering that every 5 years since anniversaries that end in “0” and “5” are the ones that generally get the most attention.
In 2024, the CDB will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of the ‘Simple Man’ album, the 45th anniversary of a little tune called “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and the 50th anniversary of the landmark album, ‘Fire on the Mountain” and the 50th Anniversary of the legendary Volunteer Jam shows.
There is one more album anniversary which is virtually unknown, but I’ll talk about that a bit later.
In 1974, Dad was determined to record a CDB album that would establish the band as a force to be reckoned with, and for the first time, he would try to find his own true voice, rather than trying to emulate established artists as he did when he was performing in nightclubs throughout the late 50s and the 60s.
After releasing several albums where his vocal style was all over the place, he decided that he would stand in front of the microphone and whatever came out that was authentically Charlie Daniels, is what they would use. It turned out to be a good move, as the album gave the band the breakout success they were looking for, and three of the songs continued to be staples of the CDB set for close to five decades.
One aspect of the ‘Fire on the mountain” album was the inclusion of two live tracks, “Orange Blossom Special,” and a live performance of “No Place To Go,” a song from a previous album, “Honey in the Rock.”
Since they wanted to include the live tracks they had to set up a show in order to get the performances on tape. Since the CDB’s success had been limited to this point, they booked War Memorial Auditorium, a 2,200 seat venue in downtown Nashville, because it was a hall they felt confident they could fill. Dad also invited some friends to join the band onstage and Jam after the album recording was completed, Dickey Betts from The Allman Brothers Band along with Toy Caldwell and Paul Riddle from The Marshall Tucker Band.
Because Tennessee’s nickname is The Volunteer State, the one-night-only show was christened, Volunteer Jam, and it was held on October 4, 1974, eight weeks later, ‘Fire on the Mountain’ was released marking 2024 as the 50th anniversary of both the landmark album and the concert, which turned out to not be so one-night-only after all with twenty official Jams total, not to mention Jam tours and one-off Jams with TV specials and live broadcasts aplenty.
Needless to say, 1974 was a pivotal year for Dad and the band, as was 1979, just five years later.
The band had for all intents and purposes finished recording what would become the ‘Million Mile Reflections’ album, Dad and producer John Boylan, realized that they had not included a fiddle song in the material they had recorded. So they took a break from recording and moved into a rehearsal studio to write a fiddle tune for the upcoming album.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, so with a little inspiration from a poem Dad read in school, contributions from all the band members and a line that popped into his head, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a song took shape and what began as an afterthought became the band’s signature song 45 years ago. In fact, it was recorded in December of 1978, so the 45th anniversary of the creation of the song has already occurred, but the song was released May 21, 1979, and with everything that song brought to Dad, the band and our family, the anniversary of the little song that almost wasn’t that paid huge dividends is definitely worth celebrating.
Ten years later, after some career ups and downs, the CDB hit it big again with the song “Simple Man,” from the album of the same name, no, it’s not the Skynyrd song, this was originally written as a movie pitch for a Patrick Swayze movie called “Next of Kin.” The music directors passed on the song, so he reworked it into a popular if controversial CDB song. It got lots of attention, mostly good, but it also had its detractors. Unfortunately, some of them were in radio and held the album hostage, meaning, it never got into the top ten because certain powerful stations refused to play it at the height of its popularity.
35 years later, the song still hits the nerve of controversy with certain social justice warriors trying to twist Dad’s words to imply he’s saying things he didn’t.
The song is about crime - and violent crime in particular – being out of control and not pointing the finger at any race. But this was the CDB’s last major label success, so here’s to the 35th anniversary of a outspoken CDB classic.
Oh yeah, I promised to tell you the story of the other milestone in 2024. That would be the 40th anniversary of an album that was never released, ‘Honky Tonk Ave.’
‘Honky Tonk Ave’ was intended to be the follow up to 1982’s ‘Windows’ album, and the first album released through Nashville’s CBS/Epic Records offices, but ultimately Nashville’s CBS label head, Rick Blackburn and other executives didn’t like what they had presented to them.
It’s really a shame because it is a very unique CDB project, and one that I’m still determined to see released one day.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll have a ‘Honky Tonk Ave’ album in time for the 40th anniversary of the album’s non-release, we’re still trying to locate the masters in Sony’s vaults – Sony now owns the CBS/Epic/Columbia Records catalog – and so far, we haven’t been able to get a list of what is in the Sony vaults, but I still intend to find a way to get this outstanding album out to the fans before I leave this world.
I’m stubborn like that.
I even regularly tweet and post a hashtag urging Sony to finally release the album.
So there you have it, those are the major CDB anniversaries we are celebrating in 2024, but that’s not all there is to celebrate.
I’ve mentioned some projects that we’ve been working on for a close to a year, but I’ve been very cryptic about what I’ve shared.
If things go the way they look like they are, I may be able to at least announce one of these projects either later this month, or in February.
I can’t wait to finally be able to tell everyone about this. It’s gonna be something special, and hopefully just the first of many CDB-related projects to come, and there are several in the works.
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day (and all of 2024) count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
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