Country Music Legend Charlie Daniels Still Goin’ Strong at Almost 70-Years-Old
Charlie Daniels has a thoroughly enjoyable new bluegrass gospel album out on Koch/Blue Hat Records entitled “Songs from the Longleaf Pines.” Listening to him intersperse spoken word scripture in between songs like “Preachin,’ Prayin’, Singin’” and “Softly And Tenderly,” you wouldn’t guess that Daniels was born way back in 1936. The man with the bushy white beard sounds as young and spry as ever on his new release, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Daniels is a country music legend, best known for his fiddle playing and the hit song, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Even though he’s been in the music business for several decades, he says he still really loves what he does. With recent forays into gospel music, including 2001’s “How Sweet The Sound” (Sparrow Records), as well as blues and Southern-style honkytonk, the good-natured Southerner finds himself endlessly touring these days, playing mostly secular music for thousands of fans from 7 to 70. In fact, “We’re on our third generation of fans,” he says.
So what keeps him going? What’s he passionate about?
“My relationship with Jesus Christ, first of all,” he says, as we chat by phone. “Then, my family, my country, the military, my music, and I love art, paintings and sculptures and things people have made with their hands.”
Daniels is a truly passionate man, quite outspoken about a number of issues, and patriotism and America rank high on his list of things to talk about.
“I’m very passionate about my patriotism and my country and what I see happening to it. I don’t know how much longer we can travel down this road,” he says. He’s not impressed with people trying to erase God from public life.
“In the grand scheme of things, all these intellectual people who say things like, ‘there is no God, God is dead, God’s not concerned, we’re all our own gods,’ are pitiful. It’s like a flea trying to move a bowling ball. It means nothing at all except that it deceives people,” he says. “The more people feel a certain way about something, the more they are convinced that they are right. But they’re not right. They’re wrong. And it says so in the Word of God.”
Daniels, who is pro-life, anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage, thinks that government buildings should be able to display the Ten Commandments because, in his opinion, they’re not hurting anybody. He says he gets offended when he sees X-rated movies advertised on public theatre marquees, but says, “I’m not going to get a court order to have them removed. If I don’t want to look at it, I don’t look at it. It’s that simple.”
When asked if people who seem to be anti-God have succeeded in removing the deity from public life, Daniels gets noticeably worked up. His voice sounds more aggressive.
“There are people out there, a lot of good Christian people in this country, millions and millions of them, who don’t subscribe to new age theories and thoughts. Those thoughts are not pervasive, just well publicized,” he explains. “Where Satan is so smart is he’s moved in on the mass media and gotten a hold of school boards and the machinery of education. That’s the thing going on right now.”
Many people have said Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics, but Daniels wholeheartedly disagrees.
“Christians should be involved in politics, and anything that has to do with morality and stability in this country,” he says. “The Christian community needs to stand up and say ‘we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore, we will not put up with these judges, these laws, these panty-waist politicians who blow like a flag in the wind whichever way the wind blows.’”
Daniels definitely wants to call Christians to action, whether it means taking opposing sides to court or voting for politicians who espouse similar beliefs. To those who oppose Christian values being validated in American government, Daniels says this: “You want to fight for America? Okay, you just took on the most powerful people on Earth, you just took on God’s people, so let’s see who wins.”
“If the Christian community would get together and do that—be active and involved,” he says, “you’d see a different country because there are a lot of good people out there.”
As a writer and someone continually in the public eye, Daniels holds strong convictions, and isn’t afraid to speak up for what he believes. He writes two columns a week on his website, www.charliedaniels.com, and gets a lot of responses.
“I get emails from the things I write and some are vehemently drippin’ green saliva, just hatin’ me and everything I stand for and I can tell the ones who respect me for my opinions although their opinions are 180 degrees from mine,” he says.
With Daniels, finding common ground is a theme he brings up again and again. He thinks reasonable people can find common ground, and though they may not agree on the subject they’re discussing, they can still get along.
“You can get along with anybody who wants to be gotten along with,” he says. “I’m not right all the time. And I’m certainly not the wisest person in the world. What I write and what I say are my opinions, and they’re put there for better or worse, for whatever you take them for, but know this— they’re very deeply held convictions.”
As a man of faith, Daniels credits God for helping him get through everyday.
“I’ve been through some painful experiences—everybody has. I look at God as being responsible for every breath I breathe, every step I walk, every note of music I write, sing or play, everything that has to do with me,” he says. “I try to live life day to day, make something good happen each day, and never hold grudges.”
Daniels believes forgiveness is the cornerstone of Christianity and that grudges will “eat you up,” so it’s important to forgive others.
“You don’t have to like somebody. You don’t have to approve of what they’ve done to you or somebody else, but you have to forgive them if you’re going to be a Christian,” he says. “Everyone has to make peace with God. I think we all have a lot of sin behind us, and if we drag it behind us, it’s going to weigh us down. We need to get rid of it.”
Besides sin, something else Daniels doesn’t like is dissension and arguing.
“Arguing for the sake of arguing— saying things to make the other look bad—is wrong. I don’t like that in my life,” he says. “I try to cut dissension out of my life because I think it’s a total waste of time and I don’t have time to waste.”
Daniels, who is almost 70-years-old, continues to make vibrant music, even though he’s already obtained legendary status in the music business. He says the golden rule—treat others how you want to be treated—is something he believes in. It’s something he tries to put into practice on a daily basis. If he had to give advice to young people, he sums up what he’s learned through the years succinctly: “Be honest, be yourself, trust God, and never give up.”
Charlie Daniels is a smart, passionate and talented man, and here’s hoping he continues to record more in the years to come.
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