Last month I received a message from my friend Janice Brooks, who hosts the traditional country internet radio program The Bus of Real Country. She asked me if I was going to do a blog listing my prognostications for the Hall of Fame this year. I told her I didn't want to even think about what they might do this year, given the repeated disappointments when deserved veterans-era acts get older and die without being inducted. When you don't have high expectations it's difficult to be disappointed.
Therefore, when the Country Music Hall of Fame class of 2017 was announced this morning (4/5), I was pleasantly surprised at least, and delighted to see a long overdue name on the list.
Here are the three new Country Music Hall of Famers:
DON SCHLITZ (rotating category: songwriter): Schiltz's long list of classic songs that he's written over the past four decades include "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers, "I Feel Lucky" by Mary-Chapin Carpenter, "When You Say Nothing At All" by Keith Whitley, and two of last year's inductee Randy Travis' best-known songs: "On the Other Hand" and "Forever and Ever, Amen."
ALAN JACKSON (modern era): "I'm in the modern era?" Jackson joked after emcee Vince Gill introduced Jackson as the modern era inductee. His career goes back to the 80s, when he began with the autobiographical song "Chasing That Neon Rainbow" and the ballad "Here in the Real World." Over 60 million records sold later and multiple awards, including several for his touching tribute to 9/11, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," Jackson has deservedly been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
JERRY REED (veterans era): what can you say but, "Son!" Known for his hot, hot guitar playing (he won a Grammy for an instrumental album with Chet Atkins), Reed had many more elements to his career. Many people who aren't country music fans know him from his role as Cletus "Snowman" Snow in the Smokey and the Bandit series of films. His "When You're Hot, You're Hot" was a crossover hit in 1971 (1970's "Amos Moses" was also a pop top ten hit). Additionally, he wrote hits for others, including "A Thing Called Love" by Johnny Cash and "Misery Loves Company" by Porter Wagoner. He was also a prolific session musician before his career as a singer took off. Reed died in 2007; his widow, Priscilla Mitchell, died in 2014.
Congratulations to the class of 2017!