- I think my first recollection of Carl was seeing him play with Glen, and I think they played "Little Rock Getaway," something like that, and just going, oh, here comes another one.
Here comes one of them kids that can just play their brains out.
- Carl loves harmony.
I think we were both harmony junkies, so it's just such a pleasure to have someone that takes the same kind of joy as you do, standing next to you singing like that.
- There's just no fake stuff about Carl Jackson, and he's one of the greatest musicians that's ever picked up a banjo or a guitar.
Got one of the purest, greatest voices ever.
And he's just such a perfectionist, I will say that for Carl, and I mean that as a compliment, because he really knows the harmonies, he knows the music, he knows when something ain't right.
Drives him crazy if it's not right.
- I've been compared to Vince Gill early on in my career, compared to Vince Gill, but I was really trying to sing like Carl Jackson.
Carl Jackson is my hero and my template for a career.
- I think when I first met him, I didn't connect it with that kid that was on TV.
And then only came to slowly realize, oh, that's the same guy who's also the banjo wizard guy.
It's like, there's two of them.
I mean, there could be.
Carl Jackson, common name, but no, it's the same person.
And, it turns out, there's actually four of them (laughs).
Because there's Carl Jackson, the wonderful singer, and then you find out he's a banjo wizard, an ace, absolutely one of the tops in the world on his instrument.
He's a record producer, who makes the most beautifully crisp, perfect country records.
And, maybe most awesome of all, he's an incredible country songwriter.
He's damn good.
You know, when you put that together, that's like the whole package.
He's the whole deal, in one guy.
- 1953, I was born in Louisville, Mississippi, right above the Strand Theater there where I have the honor of going back every year and doing a Christmas show for the folks back home.
You know my uncles and my dad, they were musical.
They had a little bluegrass band called The Country Partners and I became a part of that as I started learning to play the banjo and stuff.
Actually started doing gigs with them at about probably nine or 10.
Had a little local radio show on WLSM there in Louisville, and we'd go out and play little things, you know, in Kosciusko and the big cities around (laughs).
About 10 or 11, somewhere in there, my dad and mom brought me up to the Grand Ole Opry and finagled a way to get backstage, and I sat there and played for basically all night long.
All the Opry stars were coming in wanting to hear me play.
And so many of them went to Ott Devine, he was the manager of the Opry at the time, and tried to get Ott to put me on stage, and he wouldn't do it.
It kind of made George Morgan of "Candy Kisses" fame and Lorrie's father, it made him a little angry.
So he was hosting the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, and he took me over, and put me on stage at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
When you look back on it, there was more of these kind of miracle things happening.
I look back at that picture now and the guy playing rhythm guitar with me that night was Charlie Louvin.
Then years later I wound up producing the Louvin Brother tribute record and became great friends with Charlie.
But so many things in my life have happened that way where there were kind of ties along the way that I didn't maybe realize at the time.
- [Announcer] And now it's time for The Jim and Jesse Show.
♪ From old Montana down to Alabam' ♪ ♪ I've been before ♪ - You know, in bluegrass, everybody thinks of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs, but really, Jim and Jesse were the fire, and they threw down.
So, when 14-year-old Carl Jackson gets to go sit in with them, and they say, "Hey kid, you want to come on the road?"
- Well, here's our banjo-playing boy from Louisville, Mississippi, playing one called "The Lady of Spain."
("The Lady of Spain") - It was that thing of his parents knew musically this is the gods asking to take their child to Mount Olympus.
- We just heard about this banjo picker, I think he was 14 years old.
His dad brought him to one of our shows that we did in mid-Mississippi there, and he came backstage, and his dad got him to pick some for us, and I said, this is very unusual, for a 14-year-old kid to play a banjo like this.
We asked his dad if he'd be interested in letting him travel with us some, and play on the road.
- I can remember getting on that bus, and leaving, and driving away, and seeing my sister wave bye.
It was emotional, and that first trip was like two weeks.
I was a home-sick little boy, I'm telling you.
- I think he was ready to go back home at the time, but he was too far out, I guess.
And anyway, he went on this first trip with us, and I found out a 14-year-old kid can eat a lot of hamburgers, even for breakfast (laughs).
- It was an incredible experience with two of the most wonderful people in the world.
Not only were Jim and Jesse great musicians and great singers, but they were home folks.
They were family and they remained that way until Jim's passing quite a few years ago.
Jesse's still kicking high.
Right after I had worked with Jim and Jesse and after I left them, I briefly went on the road with the Sullivan Family.
During that same time, a young man by the name of Marty Stuart joined the group.
- The Sullivan Family Gospel Singers.
They played what I call Pentecostal, church house, bluegrass, rock and roll because their music had so much fire to it.
It was on fire.
That summer it was Brother Enoch, Uncle Emmett Sullivan, Sister Margie Sullivan, Unc Dickerson from Arkansas played the bass, Carl Jackson and myself.
Six of us in a Ford station wagon with the bass fiddle, and the record box in the back, and the sound system, and the instruments, and the clothes.
And to this day it stands as one of the greatest summers of my life.
It was the joy of first discovery, and I totally fell in love with what happened to me that summer.
- Me and Marty spent many an hour in the back of that station wagon traveling down the road working out licks on mandolin and stuff.
There's a great clip of me, and Marty, and Enoch playing "Pass Me Not", I think in three part fiddles, which I'm not going to say it's great, but it's great to have, (laughs) you know what I mean?
Then there was that little short stint with Keith Whitley and Jimmy Gaudreau forming The Country Store.
And then Glen Campbell came to town, and we went to see the show, and enjoyed that so, so much.
On our way back to our car, I see a young man standing there by the name of Larry McNeely, and Larry was the banjo player for Glen Campbell at the time.
And I walk over to him and I just stick out my hand, and I said, hey Larry, I'm Carl Jackson.
I just wanna tell you, man, that was a great show.
And he immediately says, "Carl Jackson?
"What are you doing here?"
We had never met before, but he knew me because I played with Jim and Jesse on the Opry, and he played with Roy Acuff on the Opry before he went with Glen.
And I told him the whole story, the whole Country Store thing, and introduced him to Keith, of course.
And he said, "Man, what are you doing tomorrow?
"Why don't you come by and let's do some pickin' together?"
We do that.
He gets his banjo out.
I get my banjo out, and we're kind of trading things back and forth, and I don't really understand what he's doing right at first.
But then it becomes a little more clear as we get close to the final question he asked me.
What he's doing, he'll ask me, play so and so, or can you play this?
Can you play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"?
Can you play "Rocky Top"?
Can you play "Little Rock Getaway"?
Well play it for me.
I saw that I was doing a lot more playing than Larry was, and we were trading back and forth some, but still he was asking me more about what I could do.
And can you play guitar?
And then all of a sudden he just looked over at me and he said, "Would you like to have this job?"
And I said... Yeah (laughs).
- To continue with the classical vein, I thought it would only be fair to introduce you to the pride and joy of Louisville, Mississippi.
He's 19 years old, and if he keeps on trying, he's going to learn how to play banjo.
(laughing) Ladies and gentlemen, he's the finest banjo player I've ever seen anywhere in the world.
He's truly fantastic.
I mean, for 19, he is.
(laughing) So, let's make him feel welcome.
Mister Carl Jackson.
(audience clapping) Carl.
What do you want to play from your new album, son?
- [Carl] I want to play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown".
- "Foggy Mountain Breakdown".
As you'll notice, throughout the whole number, not once does his fingers ever leave his hands.
(audience laughing) ("Foggy Mountain Breakdown") - Treasured time.
12 years then on the road with Glen.
He featured me on every show he ever did.
Would literally leave the stage, introduce me as the greatest banjo player in the world, and whether that was true at the time or not, he made people believe it.
And I tried to uphold my end of it with what we played.
He was the most gifted singer that I've ever heard in my life, and I've had the blessing to sing with so many great singers.
He had perfect pitch first of all, and he just did not make vocal mistakes.
- From what I know of their relationship, it was nothing but love and respect.
And my dad just thought Carl was such an incredible player and person, so he would always regularly feature him in the shows.
Carl would get his own number sometimes.
And my dad got into the music business because he loved music, and in his shows it didn't just become all about him.
It was just about the good music on stage and surrounding himself with incredible musicians and celebrating that.
- I grew as a songwriter with Glen.
That's another thing Glen gave me, you know.
I mean, he gave me confidence.
He recorded a song of mine called "Letter to Home".
It became, then, the first top ten country record I ever had on the charts as a songwriter.
So there he was, again, opening another major door for me.
♪ But I just stopped to realize ♪ ♪ How long that I've been gone ♪ ♪ But there's a few small things I need to know.
♪ - He's one of my favorite songwriters.
I would say that that is Carl's spiritual offering to history and posterity.
It's not who Carl Jackson is, it just is who we are, as traditional musicians, and this is what we are up to.
In telling these stories, we're writing history, you know?
- Tom T. Hall, oh my gosh.
Tom T's catalog is amazing, and there's an example of that guy that writes from the heart and just writes things that really happened, and knows how to paint that picture, you know?
And then there's a guy probably not as known, but Jim Rushing is like a mentor to me and to my other compadres, Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley.
He taught us all so much about how to make that three-minute movie.
It's like you want people to be able to close their eyes and see your song.
Jim Rushing, he taught us to never settle.
The song's finished when it's finished.
- If I helped him any, it was just merely pushing the bar a little further coming together.
That's all I was doing with Carl.
Carl knew how to write songs, so did Larry.
But if I gave them anything, it was more and more of expose the grain in the wood.
I wanna be able to see the dirt.
I wanna be able to see the dirt, under the man's fingernails.
I wanna be able to see all of the grain, whatever there's on the man's mind, or what he does in the fields, or the brogans, or the gnarled hands that he has.
I wanna be able to see these things.
But that's where it comes down.
You test every line.
- We wrote a song called "Little Mountain Church House" together that was 1990 IBMA Bluegrass Song of the Year.
Now that song's been recorded, I know, at least a hundred times by different artists.
I wrote a song with Jim also called "Fit for a King," which has been such a blessing in my life.
Luckily, the second song I've ever had recorded by Garth Brooks.
"Lonesome Dove," that one happened... Larry Cordle and I had been down to Mississippi to visit with my folks and also to pick up a guitar that Larry was going to get from my dad, a 1953 D28.
On the way back, on the Natchez Trace, we were talking about songwriting, and actually I had a tablet.
Larry was driving and I had a tablet out and a guitar or whatever, and we were thinking about writing a song.
Just maybe killing some time, writing on the Trace, which I've done that before.
We got to talking about the series, "Lonesome Dove", which is my favorite mini-series, Western, of all time.
- Carl and I actually wrote "Lonesome Dove" in the car coming back from that trip.
♪ I know how you feel, Lonesome Dove ♪ - We get this thing wrote and when we get home, he calls me maybe the next day or two, and he's put some oohs in it just in the right place, and he plays it for me over the phone, and I just loved it, you know.
So, somehow or another Garth Fundis winds up with the demo, who was Trisha Yearwood's producer.
- They heard that song and just fell in love with it.
Garth took Trisha in and recorded one of my favorite records of all time of the songs that I've written.
Brought Vince Gill in.
Vince came in and sang harmony on it.
I know at the time, he may have done something he loved more, but I know at the time Vince made the comment, "Man, that's my favorite thing I've sung on."
- When I had first moved to Nashville and Vince Gill was starting his real ascendancy, he and Vince wrote a song called "There's No Future In The Past" that was just heartbreaking, and gorgeous, and beautiful.
Everything that country radio hates.
And it ended up being the biggest song of the year.
Think about that, right?
You can actually make excellence work.
- Vince was taking off, things were starting to happen for him really good as an artist, and things were taking off for me as a songwriter, but we had never... We'd probably thought about it, but I had never picked up the phone, hey man, let's write a song together, or vice versa.
And I pulled out that title, "No Future in the Past."
I had it scribbled down in my notebook.
He said, "Ah, I like that."
And so, we wrote on it a couple of hours.
- Both of us are harmony singers, and I think we'd say that about ourselves first.
You know, what is it you do well?
We both are good harmony singers for other people, and the interesting part about writing with Carl was I knew his mind was like-minded to mine.
And so we wrote a song melodically that we knew would take harmony great, and that might be my favorite harmony song I've ever written, because when it gets to the bridge it goes high, and then halfway through the second half of the bridge it goes even higher, and it's a real, it was always a showstopper.
♪ Why can't I forget you ♪ ♪ Why can't I admit it ♪ ♪ There ain't no future ♪ And I liked writing with Carl because we both love ♪ in the past ♪ traditional music.
We both have...
It's what I like about Carl, is his reverence for the past.
- The late '80s when I'm writing at Polygram Music, there comes an opportunity to write with Melba Montgomery.
And we get to be close friends, and we write this song, "I'm Not Over You."
Rhonda Vincent, she recorded it when she was on Giant Records.
It was her first single, and it got some good attention.
It was become kind of a staple for Rhonda.
She's recorded it three different times, I believe, over the years, and it's another one of those songs like "Little Mountain Church House," that's been recorded by a lot of other people.
♪ Only adds to my heartache ♪ ♪ It runs quietly down my window ♪ ♪ Like the tears upon my face ♪ - I had just experienced the biggest commercial disaster of my career in a record called "The Ballad of Sally Rose," which I wrote, and then took on the road at great expense to recreate the entire album in its entirety.
I was exhausted from it and my husband Paul, at the time, who was just always such a great champion and encourager of me and my music, he said, "You know what?"
"Enough of this, I just want to hear you sing."
"Let's just get some people over "and just sing some old gospel songs."
We talked to Carl, and we got Emory Gordy, my bass player from earlier Hot Band days, and this guy named Vince Gill.
Pretty much, Carl was doing the guitar playing.
He's a brilliant, beautiful, acoustic guitar player.
I just love to hear him play.
And Vince is a pretty good acoustic guitar player, too, but he had to play the mandolin, and he joked sometimes that every intro and every break he took was exactly the same, but it worked.
We just sat around in the barn, and we just recorded "Angel Band."
And it still remains, to this day, probably the purest record that I've ever done.
♪ Precious father ♪ ♪ Loving mother ♪ - When you're exploring the world of bluegrass, you're gonna come across a band called The Seldom Scene at some point in your self education, because they're really significant in terms of a new generation of bluegrass bands, and they were like one of the first new generation bands.
One of the members of that band was John Starling.
And I became aware of John Starling through Emmylou Harris, that touchstone of all things great, because she surrounded herself with brilliant musicians.
And then, he teams up with my big favorite, Carl Jackson, on this album called "Spring Training".
It was like, perfect, how cool is that?
- It was a fun record, and it won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.
- I guess I'd never sung with Carl and John at the same time maybe.
Definitely never recorded with the two of them.
But it was the beginnings of the Nash Ramblers, which kind of gave me, I don't know, a resurgence of having a bluegrass band behind me, the Nash Ramblers, which was a result, pretty much, of that album.
- Emmy was putting this band together called the Nash Ramblers.
And I'm like, Emmy, I just don't know if I can, with the songwriting career going, and things I'm doing in town, production, all this kind of stuff, I don't know if I want to go on the road again.
But yes, I want to do it because it's you.
So she's being so nice to me, and she's going to let me know the very last date that she's gotta know.
So, I'm still wrangling with that decision, in other words.
Well, we do this show with Vince, and right after that show this kid walks up to me.
- I'm not good about that, you know, going up and meeting people, especially people I revere.
But I introduced myself to Carl, and he was just, man, he was just the nicest guy, and we talked about bluegrass, and we talked about music.
And he asked me a lot about, where are you from, and what are you doing, and what are you trying to do here?
And so he asked me to drop off any kind of music I had.
- Immediately I'm blown away with how great he sings, how great he plays.
I didn't know what a great songwriter he would become, at the time, but he had that in him too.
A great talent.
- Within two days, I got a phone call from Carl saying, he said, Emmylou Harris is going to call you today.
- And the beauty of that was that there were some times that I got to be a Nash Rambler anyway.
You know, I got one of the jackets too because I would go and fill in for Sam some when he couldn't be there, and I'd go in and fill in for Randy some when he couldn't be there.
So, it was kind of neat.
It kind of worked out in that God's hand thing again, where you still got to be Nash Rambler with Emmy, but you also got to help this guy get on the road to success, and he's done well with that road.
- That changed my whole career.
What I learned from that, which I try, I try to do, I try to give back, but it's like Carl didn't know me, didn't owe me nothing, but he's that kind of guy.
You look at his career, how many people he's taken under his wing, and mentored, and how many people's career he's really responsible for.
- One of the parts of Carl Jackson that I dig the most is his ongoing mentoring of young, gifted people.
- It was 1992, and I came home.
It was about 4:00 in the afternoon.
I'm 500 miles plus from Nashville.
The light was blinking, and when I hit the button, it said, "Hi, this is Dolly Parton, and I want you to come "to Nashville and sing with me."
And I'm like, this has to be a joke.
Dolly Parton is calling me?
She doesn't even know who I am, and I had dreamed of getting to meet Dolly, and Carl Jackson had been in the studio with her.
She was recording the project "Slow Dancing with the Moon."
Carl had sang with her, and she said, "Who should we get to sing with us on this?"
And he said, "You should get Rhonda Vincent."
- I transferred to Belmont.
I immediately went out and started looking for internships, and I got one at Famous Music Publishing.
And my first day on the job I met a guy named Carl Jackson.
I had never recorded anything in a studio until one day he came down and said, "Hey buddy, I need to do some guitar vocals downstairs.
"You can figure this out."
That was kind of how my career recording started.
And really Carl's kind of been center point in each step I've taken along the way.
Most recently I've been working with Brad Paisley, so I produced his last two albums.
What I do now, I owe, in very, very large part to Carl.
I've got two boys and my youngest son's name's Jackson.
And yeah, I named him after Carl.
I mean, he's just...
It's not just that he helped me out, but he was like my big brother when I first started, certainly a mentor, and just great friend.
- We're talking now about who Carl is when he gets up in the morning.
He's following the directions his mother and father gave him.
It's the way he was raised, you know.
Be nice to people and help them out if you can.
- Bradley Walker, for those of you who don't know him, is severely compromised physically, but he sings like a hillbilly angel.
He's an incredible voice.
And Carl tried for years to get somebody to listen to this guy, to give him a record deal, to give him his shot, and Carl didn't take no.
Carl believed, and Carl made it happen for Bradley.
- We had a blast making that first record.
It was released in September of 2006, and the following year, 2007 at the IBMA awards, I was blessed to win the Male Vocalist of the Year award from IBMA.
I've told several people, Carl has taught me probably more than anybody about how to sing in a recording studio.
Singing in a studio is totally different from singing live.
It's two totally different things.
That may sound strange, but it really is.
It's a different animal.
And Carl has taught me things about how to do that, that I'll take with me and that I have taken with me ♪ If we make it ♪ through my career.
♪ through December ♪ ♪ Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime ♪ ♪ Maybe even California ♪ ♪ If we make it through December we'll be fine ♪ And so that whole time he's teaching.
Whether he realizes it or not, he's teaching.
I try to be like a sponge and just soak things up when I'm around him.
♪ Heaven knows I been working hard ♪ ♪ Wanted Christmas to be right for Daddy's girl ♪ - The first time I worked with Linda Ronstadt was on the "Trio II" album.
Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris.
Does it get any better than that?
It's really strange, I had dreams before I met any of them that I would get to meet them, and maybe sing with them some day, and it's really cool that I've had that dream come true, you know.
To work with them as a group there on "Trio II", but to also work with all of them individually has been such an honor.
- So I heard about Carl Jackson for years, you know, that he was a great picker, that he was a great harmony singer, and a really great bluegrass tenor, which is a very particular thing.
I think the first time I met him was when we were doing the Trio album, the second Trio album.
He came out and played on "High Sierra", a song we did.
I was just blown away by the consistency of his tempos and how beautifully articulated each note was.
And then I heard him sing, I almost fell on the ground.
He's Jesus, Mary, and Joseph of tenors.
♪ I've been right, mostly wrong ♪ - I've been blessed to be the producer on several projects that happen to be multi-artist projects.
So in turn, when people ask me, who all have you produced?
I mean it's a pretty dog gone long list.
They aren't all individual albums, but I mean I can say I've produced James Taylor, because I did.
I produced James and Alison on "How's the World Treating You?"
for the Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers project and that particular cut won a Grammy, and the album won a Grammy, so I'm proud of that.
When James Taylor, when his one condition of being a part of the record was if he could sing with Alison Krauss, my answer was, I believe I can make that happen.
I hadn't talked to Alison yet, but I felt pretty confident she'd be okay singing with James Taylor, and I knew the blend was gonna be awesome.
♪ How's the world treating you ♪ ♪ Every sweet thing that mattered ♪ ♪ Has been broken in two ♪ ♪ All my dreams have been shattered ♪ - Patty Loveless and Johnny Cash and gosh, on and on.
John Randall, Pam Tillis, The Jordanaires.
It means a lot to me that they put faith in me.
- Livin', Lovin', Losin': The Songs of the Louvin Brothers, first of all, if you're not a Louvin Brothers fan, stop what you're doing right now and go listen to them because you're gonna walk away with your jaw on the floor.
- They were the biggest duet of the time, but a lot of it was because of Ira Louvin and his great harmony.
He was like Carl Jackson.
He had this pure, pure voice, very high, that could sing anything and he was also like Carl, a great, great writer.
And the two of them, he and his brother, Ira and Charlie Louvin, they just did the most beautiful harmonies.
That harmony that only families can get.
- Ira Louvin was as good a songwriter as Hank Williams.
He was really, really brilliant.
And those songs have lain fallow, to the masses...
I mean, country music people knew them, but bringing those songs to the forefront on that album was important.
It was really, really important to do that, and Carl is the man, he is the man.
He produced that record.
It won a Grammy and deserved it.
And it had fabulous stars on it, just the greatest singers in this town.
It was a record that needed to be done.
- When I heard Carl was doing the Louvin Brothers tribute record, it almost felt like, what took everyone so long?
Because they were so pure in what they did, and so true, and so intense, it would be, how do you cast that record?
How do you find the right people?
Wait, wait, how do get the right people to say yes?
Carl not only understand the music on cellular level, he understood who the artists were that were gonna be able to bring that unspoken truth to the surface.
- Why I always say yes when Carl has a request is because I know, in his hands, that he's not gonna let anything slip through the cracks.
Some people do.
Some people you work with, they let stuff slip through the cracks, and you kind of wind up going, oh, I might not have done that.
But with Carl, he's very meticulous.
- Obviously I was gonna do it, whatever Carl was gonna do, if he wanted me to be involved.
I always wanted to champion them and it was great.
I loved that he championed them and won the Grammy with that album, yeah.
- Merle wanted to do it right off.
Big Louvin Brothers fan and he wanted to be a part of the record, and I was honored that he wanted to be.
Well, we kept trying and trying to schedule times, and so, it finally happens that Merle is gonna be in Oxford, Mississippi.
So we get there and Merle is staying at the Holiday Inn, in Oxford, and we go over to the Holiday Inn, and we set up our equipment, but we set it up in his motel room.
And Merle comes in and we do his vocal on "Must You Throw Dirt in My Face?"
great song written by Bill Anderson, in that motel room (laughs).
And I have to say, Merle's a little bit like Willie in the...
He has a little enhancement, so he goes in the restroom and when he opens the door it looked like Cheech and Chong come out of there (laughs).
It was like, Merle, you know, (laughs), but man, he came over and sang the fire out the song.
♪ You've already put big old tears in my eyes ♪ ♪ Must you throw dirt in my face?
♪ - And he'd never recorded the song before.
He had heard it before.
He was vaguely familiar with the song, but man, he couldn't have done it better.
- You know, once again, another Hall of Fame Artist who I'd never even been in the same room with, and I'm getting to cut a vocal on him.
He listened to the song over and over several times, and he said, "Who was singing on the demo that you sent me of this?"
And that was Carl, and there were several big country stars who were having hits at the time that Carl had pitched to him, hey, would you sing with this guy or would you sing with this guy?
And Merle's like, nah, I want that guy on the demo, which was Carl, so that was one that Carl got to sing with.
♪ You're waltzing with me ♪ ♪ Looking over my shoulder ♪ - "The New Partner Waltz" ♪ That gleam in your eye ♪ Carl chose it.
Again, I don't let anybody chose material for me.
I don't trust another producer.
I wanna do it myself.
Want to use my engineer... we broke all those rules.
Carl did a good job.
♪ But your heart's ♪ ♪ with another ♪ I made him biscuits (laughs).
♪ You'll have a new partner ♪ I make good biscuits.
I was flying blind, you know, I hadn't been singing, and I'd already started having trouble with my voice.
A lot of trouble, so he was very patient.
It took me a long time to put that part on because I had to learn his singing exactly, you know.
I had to learn his phrasing exactly and try to match his tone and I was working with a limited palate by then.
He's got an amazing ear for pitch.
I've got pretty good ears for pitch.
He's got infallible ears for pitch and to perceive when things are sitting right.
You know, again, it's the pocket, and you have to lean back and fall into that pocket sort of effortlessly and he's really good at knowing when that's happening or not.
- When you start talking about the Mark Twain Project, it's got another one of those God's hands touched stories behind it.
I mean, Cindy Lovell was the director of the Mark Twain Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri, and she said, the 100th year anniversary of his passing is coming up and I was wondering about doing an album to kind of tell his life story.
And we started talking about possibly having narration in this one, you know.
Telling the story and then doing the song that went along with the story.
That all eventually evolved into Garrison Keillor, and Clint Eastwood, and Jimmy Buffett.
- [Clint] When I was a boy, there but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village along this bank of the-- - [Jimmy] A steamboat landed and in about two minutes up comes a crowd a-whooping, and a-yelling and laughing and carrying on.
- We were gonna try to write a couple of songs for the Mark Twain Project, Carl and I, and he told me, said, "Man, I got already got a melody for one of them."
And so, I went over and we actually watched a documentary together that night on Mark Twain's life.
He kind of played me a little bit of what he had, and we wrote that together but he had a great melody from the very beginning on that song.
And there's another example of Carl helping somebody.
He didn't have to call and ask me to help write anything, but he's my friend, he believes in me, he trusts me.
And he called and said, "Man, would you like to come "and try to write something for the Mark Twain Project?"
And I couldn't get there fast enough (laughs).
- The 1927 Bristol Sessions, that was The Big Bang of country music.
It took off right there.
I mean there's Jimmie Rodgers.
The Carter Family and so many more of those artists that weren't, they didn't become household names, but they were... For the day, they were awesome.
It was another easy yes for me when my dear friend Rusty Morrell contacted me and asked me if I would consider doing a project about the 1927 Bristol Sessions, much like I had done about Mark Twain and the Louvin Brothers.
He loved those records, so a lot of these projects, they kind of evolved from the previous one.
- The Bristol Sessions was really a major thing for Carl.
That was very personal to him to want to do that, in the same way as the Louvin Brothers, but The Bristol Sessions were really songs that were wonderful and it kind of marked a period of time where a lot of us...
I know that kind of is embedded in my DNA, in my heart, and with my people growing up and everybody singing those old songs and knowing and loving those things.
So it was only natural that I would be part of that, and I couldn't say no to that.
It's really like a documentary in music is what he did.
And so, I was just really proud to be part of that.
- To take those songs and put it with someone who appreciates it and understands it the way that Carl does and do modern recordings of it, still keeping the sanctity of it and the appreciation for it because the words are there, the melodies are there.
- Carl, the producer, is one of the few people that I can go in and do my part, and put my instrument in the case, and leave and say, see you later, and not worry about it because it's not gonna see the light of day until it's up to Carl's standards and those are mighty lofty musical standards.
Everybody in this film, we share one thing in common: we trust Carl and his musical instincts and his musical gifts.
And I think everybody in this film probably has another thing in common: we do our best for him.
He's like a great coach.
And I promise you, he probably get Dolly to sing better than anybody else in this world can, and he can get me to pick harder than I usually do.
I can't bring my B game.
You have to do your best for Carl, but he knows kind of what everybody has inside them.
That's the mark of a great producer.
- I tend to put artists on there that I love very much too, but always not just established artists.
I'm always trying to put people on there that I feel like deserve a shot, deserve to be much more known than they are, deserve to be a bigger artist.
The Bradley Walkers of the world, the Val Storeys of the world, The Church Sisters of the world who are as great as anybody, but they just haven't got the right break yet to be as known as they should be.
- Carl Jackson is the reason that I was born because he set my mom and dad up on their first date.
- There we go with Glen again.
He didn't just give me a car.
He didn't just give me golf clubs, and suits, and shirts, and take me all over the world, and put my name in lights all over the world, and all that stuff.
He didn't just give me that.
He had to top it all off and give me just the most beautiful Goddaughter that anybody could ever ask for.
And she's so talented, and she's the real deal.
She understands what is good in music.
♪ Because they thought we fit together walking ♪ ♪ It's just knowing that the world would not be cursing ♪ ♪ Or forgiving when I walk along some railroad track and find ♪ ♪ That you're moving on the back roads ♪ ♪ By the rivers of my memory ♪ ♪ And for hours you're just gentle on my mind ♪ - She learned so much from him, and he's so good about showing her whatever it is and so patient and it really is like a father.
And I think, in ways, he's really stepped in, and I think Glen would be so happy.
I think he would be so happy with their relationship and the closeness that they have.
And I think it's been great for both of them.
♪ I got in a little trouble ♪ ♪ At the county seat ♪ ♪ Lord, they put me in the jailhouse ♪ ♪ For loafing on the street ♪ ♪ When the judge read the verdict ♪ ♪ I was a guilty man ♪ ♪ He said 45 dollars ♪ ♪ Or 30 days in the can ♪ ♪ That'll be cash on the barrelhead son ♪ ♪ You can take your choice ♪ ♪ You're 21 ♪ ♪ Well no money down ♪ ♪ No credit plan ♪ ♪ No time to chase you ♪ ♪ I'm a busy man ♪ - Playing every Monday night in Nashville, at the Station Inn, it's a blessing is what it is.
I mean, to be there every week with that group of people, the talent on that stage is phenomenal.
I'm telling you, we got Doug Jernigan over there on steel or sometimes Robbie Turner if Doug isn't there.
We got Catherine Marx on the keyboards, or Chris Walters on the keyboards if Catherine can't be there.
And you got Michael Bub on bass.
Got Larry Atamanuik back here playing drums for us.
You got Aubrey Haynie over here playing the fiddle who's just, oh my gosh, I think he's the only guy in the world can play anything he thinks (laughs).
I mean, he's amazing.
Larry Cordle on vocals and Val Storey, what an angelic voice she has.
She's one of the greatest singers I've ever known.
She's just wonderful, deserves to be a superstar, but she's a superstar to us.
And to get to go in there with that group and to make music with them is, it's a joy, a pleasure, an honor.
Almost weekly, we have people in the audience that are really, really good, and we'll get them up as guests a lot of times.
- Dierks Bentley told me one time, he said, "This is the most intimidating stage "in Nashville, Tennessee."
And by and large, I know what he means, you know, everyone in the world has played there.
I did a tour in Sweden and that's the first thing these guys that wanna know, "Do you play at the Station Inn?"
- They just play every Monday.
It's my favorite live music in Nashville.
It is the only place where you can go to hear classic, old school, beautiful country with fiddle, steel, stand-up bass.
People come from all over the world to go to the Station Inn.
- Being able to go to New Monday and kind of ground yourself back to the foundation is a very, very valuable thing.
When you go or get around someone like Carl and you realize, okay, this is why I fell in love with this music.
This is why I moved to town.
- I think I started really going to the Station Inn on Monday nights when I was around probably 11 or 12.
The quality, the perfection of it all is just insane.
You've got some of the best musicians in the world right there on stage.
♪ C'est la vie, say the old folks ♪ ♪ It goes to show you never can tell ♪ ♪ C'est la vie, say the old folks ♪ ♪ It goes to show you never can tell ♪ ♪ C'est la vie, say the old folks ♪ ♪ It goes to show you never can tell ♪ (audience clapping) - I'd always wanted to do a full record on Glen and it had never happened.
The Goodbye Tour came around.
To let you know, Glen develops Alzheimer's and he announces it to the world, which I think was wonderful the way he took hold of that, and did the best he could with it, and he did great.
I think he made such a difference in people's lives showing them that, hey, you handle this the best you can.
And you go out and you don't quit what you're doing.
I mean, Glen loved to be on stage.
You think it bothered him that he forgot a word or something here now?
When I got the opportunity to record Glen, that came from him and Kim, of course, his wife.
She wanted me to take Glen in the studio and do some recordings because she knew they were gonna be some of the last, if not the last, things done.
- I do remember when Carl was recording Adios record with my dad, they had such a fun rapport together.
Because my dad was struggling with Alzheimer's, he needed Carl to stand there while he did vocals, and help him with the lines and stuff, and my dad would get really mischievous and cheeky, and (laughs) start messing with Carl.
He'd sometimes get it wrong on purpose to make Carl laugh (laughs) or Carl would be like, "All right, Glen we just need to do one more line here."
And my dad would just go, "No."
(laughs) - I've had so many people tell me that, man that must've been really hard, Glen having Alzheimer's and that had to be really hard.
And I always tell them, well, I mean, I'm not gonna lie to you that there weren't some difficult challenges here and there to do, but overall, it wasn't hard.
It was a joy.
I mean we laughed way more than we cried, and the tears we cried were all joyful.
You know, Glen was...
He was one of the most wonderful people I've ever known in my life and to be able to be there with him and (choking back tears) ♪ The seventh son born ♪ - be beside him, ♪ To an Arkansas farmer ♪ - it meant the world.
♪ And a hard working mother of 12 ♪ ♪ Who never could find any time or a dollar ♪ ♪ That she could just spend on herself ♪ ♪ I remember things now, that my daddy once told me ♪ ♪ The old man grew wiser with time ♪ ♪ And a life on the farm, that in a boy's view was awful ♪ ♪ Has changed in these same older eyes ♪ ♪ Oh the weeds have grown high on the farm back in Dixie ♪ ♪ Where cotton and corn used to grow ♪ ♪ And the memories run wild in this Arkansas farmboy ♪ ♪ Who'd give all he owns just to go ♪ - If you wanna find the heart of a true traditionalist and a man who's unmoved by time, go talk to Carl, and you will find an oak tree kind of presence.
And he is that and that's who he is.
The thing, it take a lot of courage in Nashville because Nashville is a hit-song town, Monday after Monday and Carl's had his share of hit songs and his share of awards.
But it takes a lot of courage to stand there, and believe in what you're doing, and know that it's gonna come back around to you because you're standing on that eternal kind of bedrock.
And that is who Carl is and those songs and that sound of traditional country music, you know, it's in good hands with Carl.
- Well Carl is very humble, in the respect that he would say things like, you know God put me in the right place, with the right people, at the right time.
But they were lucky to have him.
He didn't just go on the road with Jim and Jesse.
He didn't just get in Glen Campbell's band just because he was there.
He had to knock somebody's socks off in order to get there, and he did it with his great voice and with the fact that he can just play so well.
But I just always thought that Carl should've just been the... Like a Glen Campbell, instead of performing in a Glen Campbell show, he could've been Glen Campbell.
He had all that, but who knows.
You never can know.
You just have to leave that to God, but I got to thinking about that.
I thought, he's always saying about God putting him in the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons, but he's done so many things.
If he had've just worked on just being that, he wouldn't have been able to support the careers of so many people that did make it, nor would he have been able to create all these things that he got Grammys for or that he could do all these other great things that God put all that gold dust on him to just throw around on other people.
- When people ask me, hey man, what's you're favorite thing to do, I truly can't put my finger on one favorite.
It's the combination of all.
You know, I've traveled the road with Jim and Jesse, and with The Sullivan Family, and with Glen Campbell, and Emmylou.
That's fun, but it's not what I would wanna do all the time.
I've worked sessions with so many people, either playing guitar or playing banjo.
Singing harmony with so many different people on sessions, writing songs, so many different facets of the business, but I just wanted to kind of make my own way and be able to do a lot of different things.
I really think the Good Lord just let it happen kind of the way I envisioned it anyway.
♪ Louisville, Mississippi ♪ ♪ Is where it all began ♪ ♪ He was sauntering down the sidewalk ♪ ♪ She was standing there with friends ♪ ♪ The world stopped for a moment ♪ ♪ As they caught each other's eye ♪ ♪ A few words changed between them ♪ ♪ And the sparks began to fly ♪ ♪ So begins the best love story in the world ♪ ♪ Of Lee and Ruby Pearl ♪ - So I'm clearly a Carl Jackson fan.
I have three vinyls here that I got at Ameoba Records, in Los Angeles, and this one's my favorite.
I started learning how to play some of the songs off of this one, and Carl started teaching me as well.
- [Female VO] To order "Meet Carl Jackson" on DVD call 1-844-874-6874.