“We Had A Dream”

The new book by brothers Harold and Don Reid of the legendary Statler Brothers chronicles special moments—great and small—from their amazing career.

The Statler Brothers Harold and Don Reid of The Statler Brothers recently chatted with Country Weekly’s David Scarlett about their wonderful new book, The Statler Brothers.: Random Memories. Here are some excerpts from Harold and Don. For more of their unique perspectives on their amazing shared career, check out the March 24 issue of Country Weekly.

CW
My first big laugh came when you talked about getting dressed in your stage clothes and driving 150 miles to West Virginia and telling them you were returning from a previous engagement, and they booked you on their show. I guess thinking, “If they’re all dressed up, obviously returning from a gig, they must be OK.”
Don
Anything to look big-time!
CW
Are those days gone forever when you could do something like that?
Harold
You know, David, I wonder about that. Don and I have two sons, Will and Langdon Reid—their group is Grandstaff. And they are strugglin’ to do somethin’ in the business. And we find—we talk about it all the time—we find that there’s no more little places to play. Everything is either a big concert that takes up an entire football field . . . or someplace like a coffee house.
Don
I think George Burns said it best years ago. He was talking about it being hard to break in. He said, “There’s no place to be bad.” And it was so true. You’ve gotta have those places to be bad and to learn.
CW
The story about Johnny Cash basically hiring you sight unseen would be something else not very likely to happen anymore.
Don
Today you’d have to go through management, you’d have to go through handlers and record labels and everything, to get to all of that. But it was a simpler time, when one man could say yea or nea.
CW
Sort of like Loretta Lynn, driving from radio station to radio station saying, “Play my record please.”
Don
Exactly. Today you couldn’t probably get in that way.
CW
Were there any tears shed in the writing of the book?
Don
There were days when I’d write things and I’d be depressed. I just thought, “I don’t want to think about that anymore today. I’m gonna put that away.” There were sections we had in there where we had deaths that affected us. We’ve had illnesses that affected us in our career and our personal lives. It would just take you to a time and a place and you say, “Let’s move on to happier things.”
CW
Anything you didn’t include for that reason?
Don
Lookin’ back, we felt like we put the major things in that needed to be there pertaining to The Statler Brothers’ career.
CW
Any great stories you thought of right after the book was published?
Harold
Oh, I wish you hadn’t asked me that! ‘Cause we are laughin’ to this day—ever since the book has gone to print and you’ve actually held it in your hand, and you know it’s complete—we have talked about stories, and Don’ll look at me and say, “We should’ve put that in the book.” And two days go by, and we’ll be talkin’ about something and we get a big laugh and we’ll say, “Did we put that in the book?”
Don
We need to start keepin’ a list.
CW
It sounds like you’re justifying Volume 2.
Don
Maybe so [he laughs].
CW
The book opens with the countdown of your last three shows. Is that bittersweet for you to look back on that now?
Don
It was bittersweet. And it was therapeutic for us to start it that way. Because we had to get that out of the way before we could go back and start remembering everything else. We had to get it said for ourselves how we felt at the end, so that we could clear our minds and our hearts to go back and tell all the other things.
Harold
And by the same token it sort of set the tone for the book, in as much as it let us know what we felt like we should share with the fans. What do they want to know about us? So it sort of set the tone for the things we wanted to share with them, in a conversational sort of manner.
CW
Is there any kind of comparable creative thrill writing a book as opposed to the music thing? Or are they totally different?
Don
It’s totally different but I think Harold will tell you the same thing, it’s just as satisfying. Plus, it takes the travel out, which is really what we were lookin’ to get away from anyway. We had enough of travel. But it still keeps your mind workin’ and it keeps your creative juices flowing.
CW
Plus, you have the luxury if it’s not going well one afternoon to say, well . . . I’ll put it down and try again tomorrow . . . not something you could do with a live show.
Harold
That’s the difference. You don’t have the pressure of your voice having to be in perfect shape and your pants having to be pressed and you’ve gotta be on the bus at 7 o’clock ready to go. It’s certainly a little bit more your own time. And there are only a few shows that come along in a lifetime that you could get away with doin’ in your underwear! [laughs]
CW
Did the magnitude of your achievements really hit you as you were going back and reliving all of these stories, things you maybe hadn’t thought about for years?
Don
You know it gave us a chance, David, to reevaluate. Because we were always just doin’ the best we could—write the best song you can, sing it and record it the best you can. Do the best show, be as funny as you can be . . . that kind of thing. That’s kinda what you did every day when you go to work. But we never really sat down and said, “What did all this achieve?” It gave us a chance to reevaluate, and it was a nice feeling. Something we probably never would’ve done if we hadn’t written this book.
Harold
It was sort of a way of puttin’ it in a catalogue form. I think we investigated some of those things when we decided to retire. I looked back and I said, “Well, we’ve gotten a lot more here than we ever prayed for, more than we ever dreamt about. It’s bigger than anything we ever thought would happen. So we’ve achieved a lot.
I’m one of those people who likes people to go away while they’re still able. There’s nothin’ sadder to me than, somebody said a few days ago, an old pop star who can’t carry a tune anymore. And I’m a great believer in that. So I think we were able to do what we did . . . pretty well, to the best of our ability, right down to the end and then we investigated the facts of it all in the book. So that sort of made it a nice complete.
CW
You probably had no idea at the beginning how many fans you’d touch. Is that something you’re proud of? Don’t be modest.
Don
I’ll be honest. Our mail has always expressed that, and our contact with the fans. People always saw something in our music that they could relate with. They saw themselves in what we wrote about and what we sang about. That makes us feel kinda good. It makes us feel like, hey, we made a connection.

Comments