Saturday, August 09, 2014

I like Charley Pride

Just found Casey N. Cep's COUNTRY TIME column on Charley Pride and was reminded of what a joy it was to interview him several times during my years in Regina. Here's a preview I wrote for the Leader-Post in advance of his September 2004 concert in Regina. 

Still haven’t decided whether or not to go see country music legend Charley Pride? Here’s a last-minute sales pitch straight from the horse’s
    “It’s the best show on the road today,” Pride said last month from his Dallas, Tex. home. “No brags, just facts. It’s the best show on the road bar none. Lots of familiar tunes, some of the new ones, it’s a guaranteed deal.”
    Originally scheduled for last May, Pride’s Canadian tour had to be postponed after he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma.
    “It’s where the blood for some reason collects down at the bottom of the brain and pushes the brain against the skull,” Pride explained matter-of-factly.
“They had to drill a couple of holes in each side, get some tubes in there, and get it out. So they did that May the 8th and I went back a couple of days ago and
did a full MRI  and they said I’m completely healed. They don’t know, and I don’t either, what caused it, but I’m okay, as of this moment.”
    Even before he went under the knife, Pride was certain of a full recovery. He and his booking agent didn’t hesitate to reschedule all the dates on his first Canadian tour in over a decade.
    “You got ten provinces up there, and I’m really behind on all of them,” Pride said, adding that commitments to a theatre with his name on it in Branson,  Missouri kept him from touring as much as he’d like during the 90s. 
    “You become a victim of your own doing,” he said. “Everyone suffered, only Canada suffered the worst. England wants us, Australia wants us, we just got back
from Norway, and now y’all in Canada wants us. I’m needed in all these places, yet I’m getting old.”
    One concession 66-year-old Pride has made--or rather is trying to make--to age is to trim his annual concert schedule from 117 shows to 45.
    “Saying we gonna cut down is easy doin’, but doin’ it ain’t that easy! Ireland would have us every other week,” Pride said.
    The Mississippi-born Country Music Hall of Famer has no plans to retire, although he wouldn’t mind having a few more free days to play golf. He points to the comedians like Bob Hope and George Burns, who kept performing into their 90s.
    “Those kinds of people, they don’t retire,” Pride said. “They just die. Why did Bob Hope keep going out? Well, he loved them laughs. I love hearing that
applause and feeling that warmth from from an audience.”
    Audiences seem to love seeing and hearing Charley Pride. A few short weeks after his surgery, he made an appearance at the venerable Grand Ole Opry, of which he’s been a member since 1993. He received two standing ovations.
    “They stood up before I even did anything and then they did it again after I was through,” he said. “As a matter of fact, some of my fans think I’m singing
better now than I ever did.”

1 comment:

Elaine Hayden Booker said...

With two country music fans for parents, I grew up on songs like "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'". I love that old country music. :)