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January 10, 2022

Outsider Radio Episode #82

AIR DATE: December 2021

SHOW THEME: Country Music Hall of Fame

ERIC: Hey everybody, it’s Eric Church back for the eighty-second episode of “Outsiders Radio.”  We’re in the final days of 2021…a year that began with a lot of questions: Would we get control of the virus?  Would we ever tour again? The answers came quickly.  April was a pivotal month: We released “Heart & Soul,” and announced the Gather Again Tour.  We haven’t slowed down since.

For the first time in two years, the Country Music Hall of Fame held its annual Medallion Ceremony, where they officially induct its newest members.  Because they didn’t hold a ceremony last year, they inducted the Class of 2020: Marty Stuart, songwriter Dean Dillon, and Hank Williams Jr.  I was actually part of this year’s ceremony, and you’ll hear what I did later.  First up, Marty Stuart.  After performances by Emmylou Harris and Ashley McBryde, Marty was inducted by his wife, Hall of Famer Connie Smith:

Connie: Marty’s never pretended to be perfect. Our friend Cowboy Jack Clement used to talk about the need to grow from setbacks and disappointments.  Marty has done that. I’ve watched him grow in every area of his life.  I’ve watched him let go of so many things and grasped on to something better.  I’m as proud of who he is as well as all of all his accomplishments.  He’s earned and he deserved to be in this hall of fame. It’s the fulfillment of a lifetime dream for him. It’s now my honor to formally induct Marty Stuart into the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Marty) And I get to go home with her tonight…how about that!

The newest member of the Hall of Fame Marty Stuart.  One of the first things he did as a member was to acknowledge the OTHER inductees: Dean Dillon and Hank Williams Jr.

Marty: I am so honored to share this night with Dean & Bocephus.  I was downtown one day after the announcement, and I saw the billboard with all three of our pictures.  I just laughed, and thought, those are the three chief knuckleheads of all time. I’m so proud of em.  Bocephus had a song called ‘We are young country, we are the pride, the sons & the daughters of American life.  Our hair’s not orange, we don’t wear chains & spikes, but we know how to have fun come Saturday night.’ Brilliant writing, brother, thank you. I was trying to get started, and Bocephus let all of us young artists jump up on his shoulders and hang out on that song, and he helped us get started, thank you thank you thank you.

Hank Williams Jr. with some guests including Steve Earle, Highway 101, Keith Whitley, and Marty Stuart.  A few weeks ago, Hank & Marty were inducted as the newest members of the Hall of Fame, and here’s some of Marty’s acceptance speech from that night.

Marty: When I first got to Nashville, I got off the bus, and I thought I’d done something wrong. Maybe I’m at the wrong place, but I went around the corner, and saw the Ryman Auditorium. It was so beautiful to me, it was tired and weary, but I felt like I belonged in that place, I wanted to be in that family. That’s all I wanted to do, start there and call it home. The greatest asset of who I am is my mama Hilda.  I want you to say hi to her, thank you for comin’, mama.

The newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame: Marty Stuart.  We’re revisiting the induction ceremony that took place a few weeks ago on Outsiders Radio.  The next inductee was songwriter Dean Dillon.  He’s written hits for many people during his career, but perhaps the biggest beneficiary of his songwriting has been George Strait, who was the first performer to honor Dean.

Strait: Well it all started back in 1981, our life together had just begun. Our musical career & friendship started in 1981, when I was able to Unwound from you. Luckily Johnny Paycheck, you know the story, was in jail.  Man, all those years, all those songs Dean, here we are today. How bout that?  Amazing, right?  I was doing interview and was being asked about Dean.  I said, ‘If he’s not the best songwriter in Nashville, he’s in the top 2.’ That was when Hank Cochran was still alive.  So anyway, thank you for giving me this song, Dean.  It’s called The Chair.

That’s one of many George Strait hits written by new Hall of Fame member Dean Dillon.  As we said, there were other artists who recorded Dean Dillon songs.  One was Kenny Chesney, who was on hand to honor Dean.

Kenny: I was a kid in East Tennessee, and I saw this guy become a successful singer/songwriter, and it gave me hop, it validated my own dream.  Dean, you did, I appreciate you very much, so proud of you. One more quick story. I was in Orlando Florida, I went to see Bruce Springsteen, and Brice said he wanted to say hi to me. He goes, ‘One of the reasons I wanted to say hi to you was because this song Lot Of Things Different. Did you write that song?’  I wanted to say yes, but I said, ‘No Dean Dillon and Bill Anderson wrote that song.’  And he went on about what that song meant to him. I was very proud of that song, wish I’d written it, and I’m very proud of you.  Thank you for having me here, and I love you more than anything.

Kenny Chesney with a song written by Dean Dillon: Lot Of Things Different.  Dean was recently inducted as one of the new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the man who did the honors was Dean’s longtime friend George Strait.

Strait: Man all those years, all those songs, here we are today. Amazing right? This is the pinnacle of what we do, right?  It’s hard to dream about being in the hall of fame, because you never think you’ll be here. you always saw people in the Hall of Fame, and though of course they’re in the hall of fame. Like you, Dean, I knew you’d be in the hall of fame. So hard to dream about, I guarantee if you asked Dean, he’d say ‘Hell no, I ain’t gonna be in the hall of fame.’ But you are man, and I couldn’t be more proud of you, and I couldn’t be more proud that I’m the one to put this medallion around your neck, brother. Welcome Dean Dillon to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

That’s another one of the many George Strait hits written by Dean Dillon.  I’m Eric Church and we’re revisiting last month’s Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Outsiders Radio.  The next inductee that night was Hank Williams Jr. One of Hank’s musical mentors was Waylon Jennings, and so the first person to honor Hank was Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings.

Shooter: You’re one of the greatest songwriters, most unsung songwriters in country music, in my opinion, and I’m a lucky guy because you laid a path that wasn’t there before, about your dad and what you went through, and all that.  But one thing I always say is there were twelve records that started with Hank Williams Jr. & Friends and ended with Major Moves, and that was the greatest run of records that anyone’s ever done, in my opinion.  So I love you, Hank.

Shooter Jennings with a song written by Hank Williams Jr. called Living Proof.  If anyone can relate to being the son of a legend, it’s Shooter Jennings. The next speaker in honor of Hank Jr. at the Hall of Fame was yours truly.  For context, I will tell you that Hank was sitting in the front row.  Off to his left was a group of about a dozen Hall of Famers, including Brooks & Dunn, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, and Alabama’s Randy Owen & Teddy Gentry.  I came out with my guitar, sat on a stool, and here’s what happened next.

Eric: I came to this town to catch some dreams, and I caught most of mine, and I caught ‘em because of Hank’s music. We’ll get into that in a minute. But I want to tell you a quick Hank story. Hank was kind enough to take me out at a time when the industry wasn’t so kind to me. We were in Cajun dome, Lafayette Louisiana.  I had a song called Smoke a Little Smoke, and it was doin’ OK. I went out, feelin’ my oats, had em goin’ and I remember being side stage, because I always watched Hank’s show.  Hank came up and he goes, ‘Heard you had em goin’ cousin.  Watch this.’  He proceeded to follow ‘Watch this’ with ‘Country music singers…’  I’m a dead man.  But I wanna talk, real quick, some of my favorite memories was listening to Hank’s music. I had a companion, and it was my little brother. I don’t have my brother any more. But what matters to me, that journey, is being here that night. This is one of my favorite nights I’ve had in this town. Because that’s what music is.  It’s about here. It’s about passing that on. So when I sit here this night, it’s about honoring Hank. But also I think about my brother. So I’m gonna take some liberties, I hope that’s OK, and thank you.

         COUNTRY BOY CAN SURVIVE—Eric Church (from Caught In The Act)

So honored that I got the chance to sing that song at Hank Jr’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The next performer that night is a current member of the Hall of Fame: Alan Jackson. Here’s part of his speech.

 Alan: Columbus Georgia, 1982 or 3, my wife & I went to see Hank at the Coliseum. Memorable moment for me. I was just a young man, had a small band, played on the weekends, never in the world thought I’d end up in Nashville, or sittin’ here singing for you. That’s a long road, a lot of your music led me to Nashville, and I appreciate that so much. One thing I really miss, I’ve got to say it, I know they’ve probably said it already because it’s important. ‘Are you ready for some football.’ I miss that.  It ain’t Monday night no more. That junk they got on now ain’t got no character. I don’t care what they play now, it don’t sound right.

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Hank Williams Jr. with a song that became the theme for Monday Night Football.  A few weeks ago, Hank Jr. was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, with tributes from Shooter Jennings, me, and Alan Jackson.  Here’s more from Alan.

Alan: I have to tell you, I sang your songs a million times in bars and wherever getting started. Always tried to remember that some people forget, they always connect you with the rowdy, getting’ drink and crazy stuff.  But you’re a great songwriter. You’ve written some sweet things and great things that aren’t all party stuff. It meant a lot to me, impressed me, and your music led me to Nashville.  I appreciate and I just wanted to say all that. As far as the Hall of Fame induction, I just gotta say it’s way overdue.

         THE BLUES MAN—Alan Jackson (from Under The Influence)

That’s Alan Jackson with a song written by Hank Williams Jr.  Alan performed that song at Hank’s induction ceremony into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The induction was done by the legendary Brenda Lee, and then it was time for Hank to speak.

 Hank: Lotta people to thank. I know who they are, they know who they are.  That part about the family with the open arms, that may have been different in my case. But I went to Muscle Shoals Alabama. All my rowdy friends are comin’ over tonight, I was born to boogie, and this is a family tradition.

 

What an incredible night: The Medallion ceremony inducting the Class of 2020 into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I was honored to be a part of it, and glad to be able to share it with you here on Outsiders Radio.

As we wrap up 2021, we’re looking forward to another big year in 2022. We will continue to “gather again.”  Happy New Year, everybody!   I’m Eric Church, see you next time on Outsiders Radio.