I had the chance to meet Charlie Daniels several years ago with KNIX. He was warm, welcoming, genuine and belly laughing through our whole conversation. I'm thankful for that time together; for that memory. But to really get to know more about the Legend Charlie Daniels ... you've gotta hear it from 102.5 KNIX Secret Show Artist and my friend, Justin Moore.
They tell you to be leary of meeting your heroes. “You’ll be disappointed," they say. That was a thought that always stuck with me. That was... until I met some of mine. None more of an inspiration, to me, than Charlie Daniels. I’ve always talked about my music deriving from a combination of southern rock and traditional country. No one ever did it better than Charlie in that regard. It was seamless. It was beautiful. It was masterful. It was exactly what I wanted to hear, and it was exactly the music I moved to Nashville, to make. And, it was all because of him.
One of my earliest encounters with him was at the Grand Ole Opry. It was one of my first appearances, if not my very first. We met. He was gracious, and he always was. He could sense my nervous nature. I told him I never got nervous to sing. The only exceptions to that rule were church and the Opry. That has yet to change, btw. I'll never forget what he said to me in response. “Son, if you wasn’t nervous, you ort not be here. It's 'cause it matters to you.” Ort is not a typo, btw. Thats how he said it. He said it in his southern way. The same way my pawpaw said it. Therefore, it's the way I say it. I'll never forget it. It made an impact on me. God willing, I'll have the chance to say it to some nervous young buck one of these days, nervous as a cat in a thunderstorm about to make their Opry debut. And, just like me, it will calm their nerves. And, it will make an impact. That right there is how the circle has remained unbroken all these years. That right there is why that will continue for many years to come.
I could go into countless stories of how Charlie Daniels impacted my life, both on and offstage. He made me a better musician and better Christian, alike. But, the one afore mentioned, is a perfect example of his impact. His spirit. His soul. His heart. After that first meeting, we became friends. I thought of him as an extra grandfather, as I had just lost mine. He had that effect on people. I’m sure I’m not alone. I know I’m not. I will forever cherish the chances we had to make music together. I will hold more sacred, however, the phone calls and traded text messages, video messages to each other, etc.
I may never win a GRAMMY, a CMA award, or ever sell out a stadium but, Charlie Daniels told me he loved me, and he was proud of me. That is more of an award than anything I could walk on any stage and accept. That's impact. That's what matters in this crazy world we find ourselves trying to navigate. That's the type of mark I aspire to leave on country music and this earth. A vision I would never have had if I would’ve been too leary to meet my hero. Boy, I’m glad I did.
I know, for a fact, the Lord’s choir has the best honky tonkin’ fiddle man of all time up there, sawin’ on it and playin’ it hot right this second. Our loss is a big get up there on those streets of gold. One more time, my friend, roll em’ easy buddy. RIP Mr. Daniels.