It has been the custom of this columnist to end the year with my favorite quotes culled from interviews over the past 12 months:
LYNN ANDERSON: (On being a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show) "I learned so much from The Lawrence Welk Show. I think that is the reason I have been able to survive in this business. I learned in a hard way and a good way about the values of doing music to please people. Mr. Welk always said our job as a performer was the hardest job in the world. Other people have to please one or a couple of bosses, but we have to please thousands of bosses who can fire us at any time."
JASON WHITE: (Nashville songwriter) "Ray Charles was a prime American example that a good song is a good song no matter how it is done. If it is given a rhythm-and-blues treatment, it will come out R&B. If it is given a country treatment, it will come out country."
BILLY DEAN: (Looking good at 42) "I've been very happy, man. I credit it to just being happy and a good quality of life. I stay pretty active, but I think maybe it comes from inside out. I hide my age well."
DIXIE DOOLEY: (Former Augusta musician, now a Las Vegas magician) "I arrived (in Las Vegas) with a packed car at 3 in the morning. I was at a stop light when I saw someone in the next car looking at me. It was (comedian) Redd Foxx. He called out, 'Are you just moving here?' When I told him yes, he said, 'I moved here 30 years ago. I love it! Welcome to Las Vegas!'"
CON HUNLEY: (On being rejected by Nashville) "I'll be honest with you. It broke my heart the way I was treated. I had given my life to the music business and had some success. But I wasn't going to beat my head against the wall when I had no control over what was happening. Now (with his independent CD) it looks like I may have caught some of these major labels with their heads in the sand. Today, there is the ability in putting anything on the Internet. Fans now can go directly to your Web site and find out about your music and your show dates. It's been phenomenal."
CHUCK LEAVELL: (Rolling Stones' keyboardist inducted into 2004 Georgia Music Hall of Fame) "Sure, many people look upon some of the people I've played with as icons and above being human, but they are human. They live much like we do with the same desires. They are people who laugh and cry."
JANIE FRICKE: (On recording a bluegrass CD) "Everybody knows I'm not an authentic bluegrass artist. My roots are in country music. But it's a free country, and if I want to sing bluegrass songs and if I want to put drums on them, then that's my right."
DOYLE LAWSON: (On the name of his bluegrass band) "I was home visiting my parents in Kingsport, Tenn., and was sitting at our kitchen table when I told my mom that I wanted a name that was different; something people would remember. She suggested Quicksilver and said one definition is that it is a force to be reckoned with; something unstoppable."
DICK FLOOD: (Nashville songwriter, on becoming wildlife expert Okefenokee Joe): "It's hard for me to explain my life because what I'm doing now is what I've always been trained to do all these years. I call it God's work. But, if you're going to do what I do, you've got to be prepared to be poor, even though I'm still rich in other ways."
DIERKS BENTLEY: "I fell in love with country music at 17, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. So, at 19, I couldn't wait any longer. I got my butt down there (to Nashville) and started working during the day at a couple of places."
JEFF BATES: "What I've discovered is that it is a rare thing when some people make it big, and it's a quick thing that they stay there. I'd rather have the longevity of a career than have some amazing overnight success. It's important for me to be here awhile, to build up that army of fans and to be good to those people."
DAMON HENDRIX: (Elvis tribute artist) "I try my best to entertain people. I try to stay as close to an Elvis tribute show as possible. I don't do like some Elvis impersonators and talk about how fat he was. I will not be disrespectful of him."
MAC WISEMAN: (On Johnny Cash's last days) "He said, 'Mac, do you know how I start each day? I play your (1950s) recording of Reveille in Heaven.' He added, 'Would you record it with me?' And he sent a car for me. I went over to his compound, and we sat outside around a fire and talked about the past. We recorded Reveille in Heaven in his home studio that day and also I Still Miss Someone."
BILL ANDERSON: (On co-writing Whiskey Lullaby with Jon Randall) "I was sitting in my den in my house at Old Hickory Lake (outside Nashville) watching the Academy of Country Music awards show on TV when I saw Brad (Paisley) and Alison (Krauss) perform it together for the first time. It absolutely blew me away."
DON RHODES HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT COUNTRY MUSIC FOR 34 YEARS. HE CAN BE REACHED AT (706) 823-3214 OR DON.RHODES@MORRIS.COM.