What a wonderful Fall it has been! I’ve had some great experiences, such as the special presentation for Grandpa Jones at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Had “Grandpa” lived, he would’ve been one hundred years old just a few days ago. I was on a panel with Ramona Jones (Grandpa’s wife), Fred Foster (producer and President of Monument Records), Sam Lovullo (Producer of Hee Haw), and we told stories of “Pa,” and the Hall of Fame played back excerpts from live shows including Hee Haw and showed lots of photos on a giant screen. It was almost as if he’d just come back to us for a day. His family was all there, and we sang and played “Eight More Miles to Louisville” (Charlie McCoy sang), “Falling Leaves,” sung by his daughter Alisa Jones, and his son Mark Jones played Grandpa’s Vega banjo, which was the one he played when I was with him. Mark plays just like Grandpa. What a memorable and honorable occasion that I won’t forget.
My Christmas record is finished! I’m so excited to finally be able to share some Christmas music with you folks. Christmas is my very favorite time of year and although I’ve even had a Christmas tree in my guitar room (two or three actually) and have been playing and listening to Christmas music all year, I still haven’t gotten tired of it! I love Christmas! It’s not just a holiday or a season but the very foundation of my belief in God and the Savior of the world. He came to us as a little child. That may be hard to comprehend and even why God chose this way but the simplicity and tenderness that lingers still warms my heart like nothing else. When I was a young man I played guitar for J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. They always said “We came to sing about the greatest story ever told.” It is truly the greatest story ever told!
I have put this Christmas album off for many years mostly because I never thought I was ready for such an important and meaningful collection of music. I felt the same thing with “Songs of Faith and Freedom,” and it has become one of the greatest albums of my career. I wanted only family and friends on this record. My son-in-law Jake Johnson played electric and string bass, and I told him this album would not have been the same without him. The same goes for Haley, as she sang “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and my brother Aubrey’s genius skills on keyboard set this album apart from all others I’ve done. My son Caleb played “Silent Night” with me. What a wonderful thing to even say besides the fact he played brilliantly. Andy Leftwich on fiddle and John Gardner on drums on a few select tunes gave this album what it needed and more. Eric Johnson played “White Christmas” with me. Can I just say that again… Eric Johnson played White Christmas with Me! Man! This was such a blast to do! My times working in the studios with Kelly Donelly and Josh Johnson in Austin, Mark Thornton in Nashville, Michael Lloyd and Brian Ascenzo in L.A. and David and Tate Huff in Georgia were all very special times in the making of this CD. You have to have folks who are ‘into’ what you’re doing. All these guys were.
I was at my mother’s house in Florida in the early part of this year. I remember playing several Christmas songs for her as I was about to start recording in Texas a few days later. She sat there for several hours listening to me. I told her I wanted to write a song for Knebworth House in England. My friend Robert Wilson called me a couple of years ago and said the Lytton Cobbold family of Knebworth wanted me to play a few Christmas concerts at their stately home in England. For a number of years they had Christmas events there every year they called “A Charles Dickens Christmas” with an actor from London who would come and read “The Christmas Carol.” They expressed their desire to have “Christmas with Doyle Dykes” which is what gave me the sort of “Love Shove” to get things underway for this album, not to mention a lot of encouragement from my family. So, while at mom’s house I started playing a melody that I had in my head for awhile and “Mert” (Mom) liked it. I came home and finished it. A few days later I went to Los Angeles and recorded “Christmas at Knebworth (with you) at Aspen Pittman’s studio and Michael Lloyd (Google him up!!) came and recorded and produced it. Who else but Johnny Tillotson and his wife Nancy came walking in to see what we were doing. I had to ask Johnny to do something on it and so Michael and I persuaded him and sure enough… he did! Johnny and Nancy had also visited Knebworth in the past and were very close to Robert and Mary Wilson there in England. This was like another “Marfa Light” experience for me.
These are but a few experiences I didn’t have the room to write about in the CD liner notes… so I may add another story or two in the next few days. Needless to say I’m very excited to tell you about all this! By the way, we have opened up our online store for pre-orders. I just approved the final insert info even today and so they should be shipping by mid November. All pre-orders will ship first.
I hope these next few weeks are very special ones for you and I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this Christmas and remember that it’s more than just a tradition. The Joy of Christmas is as real as the story itself. The greatest story ever told.
Joy and Peace….