From Chicken Soup for the Country Soul

The Dream

It’s important to dream.

Conway Twitty

We’re living this story we’re about to tell you. We will always be living it as long as we’re alive and working together as a family.

Our daddy, Johnny Wiggins, came to Nashville in 1958 and worked odd jobs. He loved music and wanted to be in the business, but he didn’t know anybody here, like so many people. What he did know was how to work on engines—he was a mechanic. So one of the jobs he finally got was with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, where he worked on buses. Daddy also made good friends with the manager of the bus company.

Ernest Tubb was one of the few touring acts that had a tour bus at the time. Back in those days, the band took turns driving the bus. When it broke down, they had to call the wrecker and get it towed in to the shop. So Ernest was the guy who came up with the idea to hire somebody to drive the bus and be able to work on it when it broke down.

One day when he was bringing the bus in to get repaired, he asked the manager to recommend someone. The manager told him about our daddy, and he got hired on the spot!

Well, what Ernest didn’t know was that Daddy was trying to get into the music business when he started driving for him. After working for Ernest for a few years, Ernest found out that Daddy could sing and he started letting him open shows. He put him on the cover of the Troubadour albums and Daddy ended up getting a deal with Decca Records.

His career was just getting started, which is what he always wanted. Ernest Tubb was notorious for touring an extended amount of time. At one time, Daddy was gone fifty-two days straight.

One time, when my older sister and I were still in diapers, a cab dropped him off in front of the house. I was out playing in the driveway and I ran away from him. That’s when he realized that with something he loved as much as me in his life, he would have to make a choice between the business or raising his family. So he made that decision and took us back to North Carolina, where he worked for his brothers in the paving business. It was really hard for him to leave it behind. But he never really could quite give up the music that was so deep within him.

As Audrey and I grew, he saw a talent there and he began to develop that talent. He’d let us go out and sing at private parties; he had me singing with the Troubadours when I was four; and Audrey at the Grand Ole Opry when she was twelve.

Eighteen years ago he had the idea to have us sing together as a duet. He said, “There’s not a family act in country music right now. There’s not a brother and sister act, so it would be great if we could get the two of you together.”

After six years we finally got a record deal and things were just starting to take off. Daddy always said that he wanted to be on Mercury Records and he had a feeling that one day his kids would somehow be involved with them.

We got a deal in January of 1993. We were here in Nashville when we got the call. I had just found the song “Has Anyone Here Seen Amy” on a Friday and I was going to call Daddy on Saturday. Daddy had heard a couple of cuts on this album. We had been working on it for two years. I was going to call him that day. He and Momma were going out to dinner and I loved this song so much that I wanted Daddy’s opinion on it. He died that night before I could play it for him—killed in a car wreck.

It was awful. We were finally seeing our dreams of a debut album, and he was finally seeing his dreams come true vicariously through us. And then we lost him.

So on our next album we found a song called “The Dream.” It was about what we do. Working all your life and being drawn to country music because it’s in your blood despite all the hardships that go along with the music business. We wanted to somehow include Daddy on this album.

On one of those old Troubadour albums, Ernest Tubb introduces Daddy at the Spanish Castle Ballroom in Seattle, Washington. Our producer took segments of that night and put it with our song called “The Dream,” which brings it all full circle. Daddy always wanted to be on Mercury Records and now he finally is—with us.

John and Audrey Wiggins

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