Keeping with tradition, my last column of 2009 is devoted to some favorite quotes from people I interviewed during the year.
TRACY LAWRENCE: "My biggest advice to people now is that when you go through something traumatic, you've got to go talk to somebody. You've got to be able to understand it, make peace with it inside yourself, and you've got to be able to let it go."
RICHARD STERBAN (The Oak Ridge Boys): "We're the group that refuses to go away. I think the key to our longevity after all these years is we still love what we do."
LUKE BRYAN: "People hear me talk and they know my background and they immediately stereotype me as being a real, real country guy, and that's the right stereotype. But you also want people to know you're a little broader than that, too."
STEVE AZAR (on forming his own label, Dang Records): "Now there are no filters on my music, which may be good and bad. There was a time when I tried to compromise on my recordings to make them work, but it wasn't working. When your 5-year-old girl says, 'I just like what you're doing (at home) upstairs,' you know that you have to be honest with yourself."
JAMIE DAILEY (Dailey & Vincent): "We want people at our concerts to be like on a roller coaster. We take them up, and we take them down."
D.B. BRYANT (leader of a three-man country blues rock band): "We wake up in Walmart parking lots all over the United States. We live in an RV on the road, and we pull into Walmart lots for the night because they stay open 24 hours and offer great security and whatever else we need."
JIM LAUDERDALE (on portraying country legend George Jones in the original production of Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story): "When we took the play to Nashville to officially open in the Ryman Auditorium, George and Nancy Jones took me out to dinner the night before the opening. They apologized, saying they would not be able to come to the opening because they were going on the road the next day. Then at intermission the next night I was told that George and Nancy were sitting in the balcony. They later said they wanted to just slip in so I would not be so nervous."
MIRIAM ALLEN (former North Augustan, on coming home to play): "I always get a little weirded out playing for people from town, like my third-grade piano teacher and (my) preacher. It's a bit bizarre singing songs about prostitution and contraband and confessionals of love gone wrong to these people. But we'll have fun."
BRENDA LEE (at family party the day after a huge opening event for an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame about her life and career): "I'm about Brenda Lee-d out. I didn't even put on any makeup because I knew tonight I'd be around my family and close friends. It is still overwhelming. I am so honored that the Hall of Fame would do an exhibit about me, and the quality and the magnitude that they did is so special."
JETT WILLIAMS (on her long court fight to be declared the daughter of country legend Hank Williams): "When you settle out of court, the laws do not have to be addressed. But when you go to the mat, and the courts feel that laws are unconstitutional, then laws get changed ... like the one in Alabama that said an adopted child is not a legal heir. My case in Alabama changed that law. So I feel a lot of good changes have come because of what was done to me and what I had to go through to get to where I'm at."
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 39 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.