Charlie Daniels has just released his fifth book, “Let’s Make the Day Count: The Everyday Wisdom of Charlie Daniels,” and he will be in Durango this weekend to sign copies and greet fans.
“Let’s Make the Day Count” is a book broken into short chapters, or vignettes, that give little life lessons and insight into the Country Music Hall of Famer’s own life experiences.
“My publisher asked me for one after I did the biography. I do a daily feature on my social media I call ‘Let’s Make the Day Count,’ so I thought that would be a good thing, it had a little name recognition to start with,” Daniels said. “I did a hundred of these little things, some of them are longer than others, some are a couple of paragraphs, and they’re kind of inspirational; they deal with lessons learned and fingers burned and beating your head against the wall, doing the right things and doing wrong things, with a little kind of a homespun sort of a thing I feel like the good lord sends to me most days. Some are things I’ve just heard, little things I’ve heard through the years, little folksy sort of sayings.”
Daniels said these hundred entries are in what his publisher calls a gift book, which was different than anything he had written before.
“It had to be a little more concise than what I’m used to dealing with. I learned a lot by doing it, I’m not a professional writer, I just started doing this a few years ago,” he said. “I had some good people to work with: Harper Collins has some very knowledgeable people, and I sent one draft in and they explained to me what I needed to do and why I needed to do it, and it just worked out really well. It was a pleasant situation.”
The book is broken into 100 different subjects, such as “Patience and People,” “Standing Your Ground” and “A Mile in My Shoes.” There’s also one called “Close Call in the Rockies,” which deals with Daniels’ medical scare in 2010 while snowmobiling in the area. He writes that the left side of his body started to become numb, and he feared he was having a stroke. He was brought to Mercy Regional Medical Center, where it was determined he was indeed having a stroke brought on by a blood clot in the right side of his brain. Fortunately, he writes, he was quickly administered a shot that dissolved the clot, preventing the stroke from causing major permanent damage. He was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center Denver and was released in a couple of days.
While he’s fine now, “I learned a lot about blood pressure during that time. There is a doctor in Vail who’s done quite a bit of research on how altitude affects blood pressure, and there is a definite correlation there.
“He calls people like me ‘outlanders’ because we just come and stay a while and leave and we never actually get acclimated to the altitude. Probably, I bet my blood had been running high for I don’t know how long, especially when I got up there and didn’t realize it,” he said. “It kind of snuck up on me and smacked me.”
He said the lesson he took away from the incident was that life is going to happen.
“It was one of those things; it’s just life. Of course, I’m 82 years old, so I’ve seen a lot of life,” he said. “I found out a long time ago that things like that, that happen – not that I’ve had that many catastrophic sort of things – if you let it dwell on your mind, like worry about it and all, it just exacerbates the whole thing. The best thing to do is chalk it up to another life experience and go on, take care of yourself, which I do now.”
Another chapter, “Work and Leisure,” tackles the challenge of balancing work with relaxation, and the need to recharge. For Daniels, who still plays more than a hundred shows a year, that means taking a couple of months off and traveling to the Durango area with his family. They stay in a house they built here a little more than 20 years ago.
So, how does Daniels recharge?
“Well, I go out to the Rockies and sit and watch it snow, hopefully,” he said. “I take January and February off and go back to work in March. We just thoroughly enjoy it; we’ve made friends, we’ve learned our way around. We thoroughly enjoy the town and the area. ... It’s just a relaxing time. I hit it pretty hard during the year playing ... it’s out of choice: I want to, I thoroughly enjoy it. It takes me usually a couple of weeks to realize I don’t have to be anywhere tonight; I don’t have to go anywhere; I don’t have anything I have to do, and to just get to where I can actually sit down and look out at the mountains and enjoy myself and just relax.”
Daniels said that at 82, he is slowing down a little, but there’s always something to keep him busy.
“I can’t remember the last time I was bored; I always have something to do. I always have a project in progress, a song I’ve got half-written, something to do with a book, a story or this or that or the other thing. There’s no reason for me to ever be bored because I always have something to take up my brain power, what little there is,” he said, laughing. “As far as staying busy is concerned, although I’m doing probably a hundred, hundred-10 shows a year, which is pretty busy, especially traveling 70 to 80,000 miles a year, and doing the things that I do and keeping up with what I keep up with.”