Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who is Bobby Braddock and Why Am I Saying All These Nice Things About Him?

Category: Personal

The chorus of an old Freddie Hart song sums up how I feel about this past Saturday: "I just took a trip to heaven, I didn't even have to die."

Sharon Cobb asked me to cover Bobby Braddock's appearance at the Country Music Hall of Fame's Ford Theater for her blog (which I did). The experience was beyond description. Braddock, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, discussed his autobiography Down in Orburndale: A Songwriter's Youth in Old Florida (published by LSU press, 2007) and many of the songs he has written. If you have listened to country music in the past 40 years, you've heard a Braddock composition. In fact, he has contributed two songs to pop culture, songs that people who don't even know or care about country music have heard (or at least heard of): "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" by Tammy Wynette and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones. Other Braddock hits: "Her Name Is...." (Jones), "I Wanna Talk About Me" (Toby Keith), "Time Marches On" (Tracy Lawrence), "Bleep You" (Cal Smith), and "(We're Not) The Jet Set" (Jones and Wynette), a song that's become part of a Chevy commercial (with Dale Earnardt Jr. driving in a convertible singing along to the song's punch line, "We're not the jet set, we're the old Chevrolet [pronounced shev-ro-LET] set, but ain't we got love").

This was a two-for-one special, as I found myself sitting right behind another living songwriting legend, John D. Loudermilk (who wrote "Waterloo," "Abilene," "Break My Mind," 2003 bluegrass song of the year "Blue Train [of the Heartbreak Line]," "Talk Back Trembling Lips," and a list of songs longer than Braddock's only because he had a ten-year jump on Braddock). Bob McDill (writer of "Amanda," one of the most beautiful love songs you'll ever hear, "Catfish John," and a few hundred others) was also in attendance, as was cult singer/songwriter Marshall Chapman (author of the title track from Jimmy Buffett's album Last Mango in Paris). When songwriters show up on a beautiful late summer afternoon to listen to "one of their own," it speaks volumes to the respect Bobby Braddock has in the Nashville community.

As well he should have. Appearing almost shy and, by his own admission, a little nervous, he performed five of his songs ("I Lobster and Never Flounder," "Time Marches On," "I Wanna Talk About Me," "The Nerve," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today") and shared stories of his life as a songwriter, band member (his Nashville career began playing piano for Marty Robbins, and Robbins was the first to record a Braddock composition), and now author and producer (he produces Blake Shelton's albums and can be seen in two of his videos, "Ol' Red" and "Some Beach"). He talked for over an hour and a half, dosing out a healthy amount of humor. (The funniest moment was Braddock recounting a program director being offended by Braddock's song "Dolly Parton's Hits" ["bouncing up the charts" as the lyrics say] and telling him so, to which Braddock replied [complete with self-editing], "Well, perhaps you'll like my next song. It's called 'Porter Wagoner's blank.'")

While the Ford Theater only held about 200 people (it was full), this should have been held at Adelphia Stadium -- with the stadium filled to capacity. Bobby Braddock, although still relatively young (he just turned 67 in August, and certainly looks much younger than his years), is a certified legend in country music. While he joked that he was "always open to getting things I don't deserve," in truth he deserves the attention. "I Wanna Talk About Me" hitting #1 made Braddock one of the very few songwriters to have #1 hits in five decades. Unless things change, we're not likely to see that quality and quantity of songwriter in country music again.

Thanks, Sharon, for asking me to cover the event; and thank you, Bobby Braddock, for all those incredible songs.


Bobby Braddock said...

Hi Karen. I just read your blog about the crazed songwriter who appeared at the Ford Theatre last week. I enjoyed our brief encounter there and appreciate your kind comments. Keep up the good work; I really like the way you write, especially when it's about me.
-Bobby Braddock

Anonymous said...

Bobby Braddock is one of a handful of writers left from what I consider to be one of the golden eras of country music. Wish I coulda been there.

Raizor's Edge said...

Mr. Brad...er...Bobby, thank you so much for your kind words! I'm very glad you enjoyed the article, and I'm honored that you took time to reply. Next time I'm in Nashville hopefully Sharon, you, and I can get together and talk about you (big smile).

Sista, it was a wonderful presentation. In addition to a great subject, the Hall of Fame certainly did things right with their use of photos and footage of Tammy Wynette singing "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful article Karen! But then, I expect no less from you. I'm very proud to count you among my friends.

John Moran said...

Bobby is a legend in his own mind...LOL..got to be with all that talent...The presentation was great as you would expect from Bobby and CMHOF staff.

John Moran