Country legend spoke with NASCAR.com for a question-and-answer session
Country music legend Charlie Daniels and the Charlie Daniels Band will perform a pre-race concert prior to this weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Daniels, 76, recently took a break from his latest tour to speak with NASCAR.com.
Are you excited about playing before a race crowd at Bristol?
Daniels: “I’m really looking forward to that. I don’t get to go to races. People say ‘are you going to such-and-such (race)?’ Naw, because I’m working the same time those guys are. But this particular one, we’re going to play, I’m going to get to stay around and watch, hang out in the pits awhile and just have a really big time. I’m a big NASCAR fan.
I’ve not been to Bristol and it’s one of the races I really want to (attend). I’ve got that one and Martinsville. I’ve got to make Martinsville one of these days.”
Still following the Tennessee Vols?
Daniels: Oh yeah. I’m still alive ain’t I? I’ve got a lot of money in that place. My son went to school over there, which I always thought was a four-year proposition until he started. Come to find out he stretched it quite a bit longer than that.”
I love UT, that’s my football team, that’s my No. 1 team. I’m a big SEC fan. … Whoever is playing somebody outside the SEC, I’m all for them.
"I’ve not been to Bristol and it’s one of the races I really want to (attend)."
-- Charlie Daniels
You recently hosted this year’s annual Yellow Ribbon event at Lipscomb University. What’s behind that program?
Daniels: It’s to help young men and women who have been wounded in service to this country, to kind of jumpstart their lives. The way I explain it usually, I don’t think anybody plans to be in the military for the rest of their lives. They go in when they’re 19 or 20 years old, put 20 years in and when they come out they’re still young people. I think everybody has a plan for something they’re going to do afterwards. So you figure you go in and you’re serving and all of a sudden you lose a limb or you have a head wound … something that just precludes you doing what you had intended to do when you come out. So what do you do? Do you just sit the rest of your life? These people are not natured like that. They don’t do that. They are natured to be doing something. … When you see someone come into this program who has had a … head wound, and learn to walk, even to talk all over again … you see the light come back in their eyes. You see the confidence come back, their dream comes back alive again. That’s what we do it for. We can never, ever repay these young men and women for what they’ve lost, there’s no way. At least we can say thank you.”
How much longer do you see yourself continuing to tour?
Daniels: As long as it’s the good Lord’s will and people want to see me. I can’t imagine spending my life in anyway that would suit me better. I can still do it; I’m still a viable entertainer, I’m still creative; I have the best band I’ve ever had. And we put on a good show. I would not go out and have to hobble on stage, not be able to sing, not be able to play and feel like I was doing an injustice to people by taking their money for tickets. I could not do that. … It’s like the bible says, you’ll be fresh and green in old age and you’ll still be fruitful. I’m 76 years old, but we’re still rocking. I’ve got a good bunch of guys, a good bunch of pickers. We still rock it out. It’s not a visit to the old folks’ home. … This is not the Septuagenarian Six or nothing like that; the CDB is still cooking, we’re still rocking. As long as it’s that way and it’s fun and people want to hear it, I’ll be out here doing it.
You’re really big into social media. How did that come about?
Daniels: My son got me into that. He’s dragged me kicking and screaming into every technological thing I ever got involved in. … Once he set something up for me and got to the point where I could understand how it was done, it’s been beneficial to me. This Twitter thing is incredible because you can get in touch with planet Earth in a few keystrokes. I’ve talked to people all over the place. … You get a different view of things. It’s really neat. It ties the world together. And I’m all for communicating with people, that’s what my life has been about. So it works real well for me.
And you aren’t shy when it comes to expressing your views?
Daniels: No. I don’t think anybody should be. I think everybody should express their views and not just take somebody else’s opinion just because they like them or something. They should figure out for themselves what the best thing is going on and go that way.
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