From Chicken Soup for the Country Soul


Country music springs from the heart of America.

Tex Ritter

A song ain’t nothin’ in the world but a story just wrote with music to it.

Hank Williams Sr.

Three years ago Ron Camacho approached us with the idea of our compiling a book of Chicken Soup stories by and about country music artists. Because the Chicken Soup for the Soul books had been gathering and presenting stories from the heart of America for the past five years and country music had been doing the same thing through songs for over seventy, it was natural for the two to come together in a book of heartwarming stories to nurture the souls of country music fans and anyone else interested in the love, wit and wisdom that emanate from the world of country music.

With former tour manager Ron acting as the point man, we took off on a venture that would profoundly change our lives—especially Ron’s. After a few months, it was clear we needed to go where the music and the artists were. Ron actually relocated from Southern California to Nashville—which we visited often—and began meeting with artists and their managers. We all received a warm welcome as people were excited about the project. Artists, managers, agents, songwriters, deejays, journalists and people at the record labels and the Country Music Association all opened their office doors and their hearts to us.

Then it was off to Lukenbach, Texas, for Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Party and back to Nashville—where Ron now resides—for Fan Fair, with lots of stops in between. Along the way, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of some of the warmest people we have ever met—entertainers, writers, sound technicians, cowboy poets, street prophets, pastors, and, most important, country music fans. Everywhere we went, we were treated with down-home cooking and neighborly hospitality. Before we were done, we must have asked over a thousand people to submit a story for the book.

Porter Wagoner and Billy Walker at the Grand Ole Opry introduced Ron to everyone he needed to meet, and Prime Time Country and Crook and Chase welcomed Mark on their shows to put the word out to get stories. The people at—a new country Web site— allowed us to post stories every week for evaluation and the Nashville Scene and Country Weekly helped us sponsor a story-writing contest to solicit even more stories.

I go through a thousand songs to find ten for a new record.

Conway Twitty

Similar to Conway Twitty, we have gone through over five hundred stories to end up with the stories that appear in this book. While the decisions were often painful, we hope we have created a final result as good as any double-platinum record you have ever purchased. What you are about to read is the best of the best.

In the same spirit of bringing together the best of the best, Porter Wagoner of the Grand Ole Opry invited 112 Opry stars and country entertainers to come together to record “In the Shade of the Family Tree” as a fund-raiser for the Opry Trust Fund. We are proud that we have been able to include this song in a CD in this book and that twenty cents for each book sold will be donated to the Opry Trust Fund.

We are very excited about this book and the accompanying CD, and we hope that you will have as much fun reading and listening to them as we have had compiling and editing them.

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