Country Music People December 2018 - Page 58

Many of Connie’s 70s recordings epitomise everything that was so great about the era. Swooping strings a la Lynn Anderson on the 1976 song I Don’t Want to Talk It Over Anymore being a perfect example. Reflecting, Smith says, “I started in ’64. I’ve always felt like I was one of the lucky ones to get to be in on that era and I still feel that way. I just feel so privileged to get to be one of the old timers now so I got to be taught by some of the ones before me and then now I get to share what I’ve been through and what I know with the folks that are younger than me. I love the kids, of course. I love kids period. “I was so fortunate. That’s what I couldn’t believe when I look back and look at the writers that actually brought songs in for me to record. I counted it an honour.” As well as her initial connection to Bill Anderson, there are many songs in Smith’s catalogue from Whitey Shafer and Dallas Frasier, undoubtedly two of the all-time greats, and her ability to choose material would seem to be a skill in itself. “For instance, I’ve recorded 71 of Dallas’ songs and I know George Jones recorded over 80 and I know that, of course, he wrote hits for everyone. He wrote If My Heart Had Windows, he wrote Alley Oop, he wrote There Goes My Everything, he wrote so many great songs and so many people that he wrote hits for. “As a matter of fact, I’m fixing to record…Before long Marty and I are going to do another album and I’m fixing to record another new song of Dallas’ that nobody has heard. It’s been a great collaboration between Dallas and I. And I recorded 33 of Bill Anderson’s songs and he’s still writing great songs and co-writing great songs.” It is, of course, well-known that Marty Stuart was just a kid when he first saw Connie Smith, already a rising star performing live, and promised that he would one day marry her. They’ve now been married for more than twenty years but the subject of songwriting with her other half brings back memories of their first meeting. “I’ve always wanted to be a songwriter and never felt like I could. I wrote a few and Bob Ferguson put a few of mine on record. But then when Marty and I got together we kind of got serious about it and I love writing with Marty. I’ve written with several people and I really enjoy…That’s kind of how Marty and I got together was writing songs. The day I actually remember talking to him for the first time I remember him coming to the fair the day we met — when he was eleven — and I didn’t know about what was going on but he had told his mama that he was going to marry me one day. But I remember him talking to the musicians, he was just eleven years old but he 58 cmp - DECEMBER 2018 was talking to them like he was one of their peers, and he was talking mechanically and how steel guitar and pedals worked and what gauge strings and all that stuff. And I thought, ‘This is amazing. This kid knows this much.’ That I remember, but as far as really remembering talking with him it was after I was third base umpire at a celebrity soft ball game, of which I knew nothing about, but we did it just to raise money for charity. He came in and started talking to me and we started talking about songs and I told him one I was working on and he told me, ‘Promise me you won’t finish that one until we can finish it together’ and, of course, that was the first song that we wrote.” As well as Smith’s 70s recordings on the new release are tracks from her 90s Warner Brothers project and Sugar Hill’s Long Line Of Heartaches release which featured many songs written by she and Marty, and even the late, great Harlan Howard. Reflecting on changes in the industry and in particular writers placing their songs with certain artists, Smith reminisces, “Well, the whole business has changed. “Bob Ferguson, my producer for nine years on RCA where most of my hits were, he would listen to songs and I would listen to songs desperately. I’d go to publishing companies and listen to songs and he would have songs sent in and then we would get together and we’d pick up the ones that we agreed on to record. But I think the producers have more to do with it now than it used to be. Sometimes the artists are kind of a replica of what the producer is thinking more than a replica of who the artist is because sometimes, I believe, the artists don’t know who they really are. I feel sorry for them because… And the music, you know, two or three notes into a record everybody knew it was either me, or if it was Hal Rugg it was Loretta Lynn fixing to sing or if it was Lloyd Green it was probably Warner Mack doing his… and there’s just different sounds to each artist. Not just their songs or not just their singing but their whole sound was different. “I worked with Pete Drake some on the album called The Lost Tapes but it wasn’t really an album it was a radio show and he was just playing on that radio show part time. But he didn’t play the great Tammy Wynette licks because they were… I think different artists bring out different music and different music brings out different artists. So I think when he would get behind Tammy it was like a whole new world and they were just so magic together and the same with Weldon and I. Weldon was my dancing partner. So I really enjoyed that era and that way the music came about and also I was so fortunate to have Bob Ferguson as my music producer. “Chet Atkins signed me to RCA, but Chet was so busy with so many other artists. He had this new guy that he had just hired to help and his name was Bob Ferguson and I was his first project on RCA. Bob and I would go into the studio, play the songs for the musicians and they would do the number chart, but if they had ideas they would present them. And Bob would say, ‘Yeah, I like that’ or ‘I don’t’. And I would say, ‘Yeah, I like that’ or ‘I don’t’. Bob was the producer but it was all a great collaboration of working together with great musicians. I had some of the best in the business. It was magic and most of the time, when I started, there was no overdubbing. We sang it and we played it and if we got it without any bad mistakes we kept it.” Connie Smith: My Part Of Forever Vol.1 is out now on Hump Head Records.