DIARY - 9 NOVEMBER 2003 - GAIL DAVIES
DAVIES 1983 IN NASHVILLE
When I visited
Nashville in 1983 I interviewed Gail Davies at her Nashville home about
her song writing that began with her brother Ron.
was born Patricia Gail Dickerson in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, on June
5, 1948 and is the mother of latter day recording artist Christopher
Christopher - son of musician Gary and grandson of banjo wizard Earl
- was born in 1982 after Gail had been dating Gary.
It was long after Davies graduated from high school in Seattle and
moved to Los Angeles and married a jazz musician.
She attempted a career in jazz but quit soon after they divorced and
began working as a session singer at A&M studios, recording with
artists like Neil Young, Hoyt Axton and Tom Pacheco.
With a little
déjà vu Gail married British jazz musician, Rob Price in
"My oldest brother Ron and I were in a duo," Gail told me, "we
sang together all through junior and high school and talent shows. He
went on to be a songwriter. We grew up listening to the music of the Everly
Brothers. We styled a lot of our vocals after them. I also became a fan
of The Beatles and discovered they had taken their styling from the Everly
Davies, whose son Christopher was in a nearby cot, eulogised brother Ron.
"I love to brag about my brother," Gail revealed, "he was
the one who got us down to California and involved in recording there.
He started writing songs and had tunes cut. Three Dog Night cut It
Ain't Easy that was also cut by David Bowie on Ziggy Stardust and
then Helen Reddy cut Long Hard Climb. He was real instrumental
in getting me into the industry."
She also praised Gary Scruggs whom she wanted to produce.
"Jimmy Bowen wanted me to produce K T Oslin but my baby takes up
most of my time," Davies, now 55, revealed.
"The person I was most interested in producing is Earl Scruggs older
son Gary who is a very talented singer and writer. But that didn't work
WILLIE AND ROGER
expanded on her early career as a harmony singer.
It was long before writing 'Hometown Gossip' for The Whites, 'Tell
Me Why' for Jann Browne and 'I Need My Baby Back' for Wild
Rose as well as her own hits, 'Grandma's Song' (a stunning tribute
to her Irish ancestry), 'Someone is Looking For Someone Like You' and
'Bucket To The South' about her father.
"I did background singing with Paul Williams and Ronnie Blakely before
she became a big movie star in the movie Nashville," Gail revealed.
She met Joni Mitchell during that time, along with her recording engineer,
Henry Lewy, who spent hours in the studio teaching Gail how to produce
her own discs.
She was also invited to sit in on a session with John Lennon (produced
by Phil Spector) and Frank Zappa, who saw her singing at The Troubadour
and asked her to join his band for a European tour.
But Davies chose ahead of rock and hit the road with some of her idols.
"I went on tour with Willie Nelson singing a few tunes with Willie
once in a while," Gail recalled, "then I went on the road singing
backing with Roger Miller, one of my favourite singers."
She signed with EMI Publishing in 1975 and moved to Nashville in 1977
after losing her voice singing with lousy rock P.A. systems.
to the doctor and he told me that I had to sing no louder than a whisper
for six months," Gail recalled.
"Since my elder brother Ron was a songwriter I thought I had the
talent to write songs. So I bought a guitar in a pawnshop and began writing
She soon scored as writer of Ava Barber's hit single, 'Bucket to the South.'
The exposure led to a recording contract with CBS/Lifesong and release
of her debut disc simply titled Gail Davies.
Gail wed a man she met at a publishing company and wrote seven tunes on
her debut disc and all but two on her second album The Game.
came down here to do demos for the publishing company I worked for,"
Gail said, "I met a young man who worked as a tape copy person
for the publishing company. We got to dating and a couple of weeks
later we got married. I ended up moving here. It was my publishing
company that helped keep me alive. I wanted to record my own songs.
I cut my first album in 1978 for Lifesong who had a distribution deal
with CBS. I recorded for A & M before but we never completed an
album. I then wrote 'Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You' that
has been cut in six countries and seven different languages. It is
now a golden oldies song."
WELCH - SONGS THAT GOT AWAY
always regretted not having recorded 'Til I'm Too Old To Die Young,'
which Kevin Welch, the writer and at the time, guitarist in her band,
had played for her in the back of a tour bus years before.
Welch wrote the song - (a hit for Texan cowboy singer Moe Bandy).
"It was when my daughter Savanna was born," Welch later revealed,
"it's all about how mortal we feel."
Davies believed another Welch composition, 'Happy Ever After,'
would be a hit record and asked for it to be released as her first single.
Instead her first single, Mel Tillis tune 'No Love Have I,' (originally
recorded by Webb Pierce in 1959), climbed to #26 in Billboard.
Next single 'Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You' soared to
#11 and stayed on the charts for 18 weeks.
Other tunes on her debut included Louvin Bros 'Are You Teasing Me,'
Elmer Laird's 'Poison Love' (later revived by Buddy Miller) and
seven Davies originals including the title track.
TO THE SOUTH
"During the time I was with Screen Gems there was one song I asked
them not to play for anyone else because it was a song I wanted to record,"
Gail revealed, "it was Bucket To The South - an auto-biographical
song. I wrote it when I was going down to Texas to meet my father for
the first time in my life. It was about going down there and talking it
to him. I didn't know him at all. I talked about my grandmother too. Ava
Barber recorded it in the U.S. and it became a big hit for her. It was
also recorded by Lynn Anderson and Mitzi Gaynor. I also wrote Grandmas
Song. There was also a song called Soft Spoken Man on that album that
I wrote about my stepfather. It tells the story about my mother remarrying
him. One of the lines in the song is I remember the day he came. He was
easy going, soft spoken man. I remember my mama said you better mind him,
he's going to be your dad."
producing her own albums in 1979, beginning with The Game on Warner Brothers.
"Lifesong lost its deal with CBS and the company folded and I was
sold to Warner Bros and I produced an album called The Game,"
"I later produced another album called 'I'll Be There,' another
called 'Giving Herself Away' and the new one 'What Can I Say.'
I released 'Blue Heartache' - which went to #7 and was my biggest
record. It was written by Nashville writer Paul Craft who has also written
songs that Bobby Bare and Linda Ronstadt have recorded. He wrote 'Drop
Kick Me Jesus Through The Goal Posts Of Life."
In recent years Craft, who has released some classic comedy discs, also
wrote the sequel to the Dennis Linde penned Dixie Chicks hit Goodbye Earl,
featuring NYPD star Dennis Franz as Earl in the video.
Memphis born Craft also wrote and recorded comedic tunes 'It's Me Again,
Margaret,' VD Is Nothing To Clap About' and 'Lean On Me Jesus'
and Moe Bandy honky tonker 'Hank Williams You Wrote My Life.'
Davies returned Craft's favours and appeared on his 1998 album 'Brother
"I'll Be There and Grandma's Song, written as a tribute
to my grandmother after she passed away, also made the charts. At the
beginning of the song is a tape of her singing an old fox song that is
about 100 years old. We had a tape of it from when I was a child and we
spliced it on the front of this tribute to her."
The album also reprised Grandma's Song and four other Davies originals,
Craft tune Honky Tonk Waltz and Delbert McClinton album title track
Object Of My Affection, also cut by the Amazing Rhythm Aces.
THE CLOCK LOVING
we recorded Giving Herself Away I wanted to release 'Round The
Clock Loving' as the single and the record company wanted to release
Joni Mitchell song 'You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio," Gail confided.
"We argued about it because they thought men would not like the song
Round The Clock Loving because it seemed a little too militant
for a country singer in a feminist vein. I pushed to have the song released
and the reaction was tremendous. Men liked the song.
The head of the record company country division didn't like the line "I
don't need your hard earned money, honey, I've got money of my own.'
The song was written by Rory Bourke and a lady in New York called K T
Oslin, very talented writers. I thought it was a statement that hadn't
been made in country by a female. I thought it was time something like
that was said."
Davies also charted with Melvin Endsley song 'Singing The Blues'
- a big hit for Guy Mitchell and Marty Robbins.
"It was fourth single off the album," Davies added, "it's
very unusual to have that many singles off an album."
The album also featured two Davies originals and 'Dawn' from the
pen of brother Ron.
CAN I SAY
we started this album I was going to produce it with Jimmy Bowen because
since we did the last album I had the baby," Davies said.
"I thought it was very difficult to take care of the baby, feed him,
perform and mix down the music at the same time. Jimmy came in and thought
I had control of the situation and didn't need another producer. It was
a very new thing in Nashville as an artist and female to oversee and produce
your own albums. Warner Bros is a very progressive label and it allowed
me to do that. I think I'm the only female in Nashville now producing
my own albums. I know that Dolly Parton co-produces her albums. Joni Mitchell
was inspiration for me as singer, writer and producer."
Davies duetted with Ricky Skaggs on 'It's You Alone,' penned by
brother Ron, on a disc dedicated to son Christopher.
"We're both very excited at having it out as a single," Davies
predicted, "my brother Ron also wrote this. When he was about 18
or 19 he wrote the tune and I've always loved it so we recorded it and
Ricky came in and put some fiddle and mandolin parts on it and his vocals.
We met when Ricky was playing with Emmylou. We sing together real well.
We had recorded 'So Sad To See Good Love Go Bad' for 'Giving
Herself Away' but it didn't sound right so we didn't use it"
The album had three Davies originals and Mark Knopfler's 'Setting Me
Up,' Ray Charles 'Hallelujah I Love Him So,' Rodney Crowell's
'On A Real Good Night' and the Harlan Howard-Susanna Clark tune 'You're
A Hard Dog To Keep Under The Porch.'
of parenting as a single mother didn't prevent Davies from performing
live and cutting 'Where Is A Woman To Go' in 1984 for RCA after leaving
Ironically, Davies included the Bobby Braddock-John Prine satirical seed
sewing song 'Unwed Fathers,' also cut by Tammy Wynette, on that disc.
"It's very difficult to combine the mothering and touring,"
Davies added, "and also the recording, very hard. It's been rewarding
to learn that I have been getting airplay and fan mail from Australia.
People wanting the albums they can't buy in Australia so I have mailed
Other memorable tunes included Hoyt Axton's 'Lion In The Winter,' K
T Oslin's 'Where Is A Woman To Go' and 'Jagged Edge Of A Broken
By 1986 Davies
had been dumped by country radio so she cut a rock edged disc with the
band Wild Choir.
She had travelled to London to appear at Wembley Festival.
Inspired by the London singing gynaecologist, Hank Wangford, Gail returned
and formed Wild Choir for a self-titled album produced by Gail and guitarist
Ten years later, their single, Safe in the Arms of Love, became
a #1 record for Martina McBride.
The album also included Davies originals 'Walls' and 'Never Cross That
Line,' 'Runnin' Scared' and 'Love Back,' written with
fellow producer Wendy Waldman, and a co-write with Marshall Chapman on
'I Don't Wanta Hold Your Hand.'
There were also covers of John Hiatt's 'Girl On A String' and the
Hiatt-Fred Koller tune Heart To Heart.
to a solo career in 1988, Gail produced 'Pretty Words' with MCA label
head Jimmy Bowen.
She moved to Capitol/EMI in 1989 and produced 'The Other Side Of Love'
and 'Best Of Gail Davies' then accepted a position at Liberty Records
in 1990 as Nashville's first female staff producer.
Gail spent the next three years working with talented, new artists Deryl
Dodd, Kinleys and 14-year-old Mandy Barnett before leaving to form Little
In 1995 Gail married British Jazz musician, Rob Price, and wrote and produced
'Eclectic' (chosen one of "Ten Best Country Albums of the
Year" by Tower Pulse).
Other Little Chickadee releases include Gail Davies 'Greatest Hits
and 'Love Ain't Easy.' Her 2001 acoustic/bluegrass album, 'Live
and Unplugged at the Station Inn,' featured a duet with Kevin Welch
on 'Tomorrow Is A Long, Long Time.'
And, this year, she produced her 14th album 'The Songwriter Sessions,'
released just two months before brother Ron's death.
CAUGHT IN THE WEBB
produced the Webb Pierce tribute disc Caught In The Webb she had
a star studded cast.
"Most girls grow up wanting to be Patsy Cline," Davies says.
"I wanted to grow up to be Webb Pierce."
Her crowning moment was a duet with son Christopher on 'It's Been So
Long' and her cut of 'Love, Love, Love.'
Scruggs also contributed acoustic guitar for Opry stalwart Billy Walker
on 'I Don't Care.'
Emmylou Harris performed 'Wondering' and Welch and Webb's daughter
Deborah cut 'Why Baby Why.'
Louisiana born Pierce, renowned for his stone country honky tonk hits
as well as a guitar shaped swimming pool, died at 64 of cancer on February
Pierce dominated country charts during the 1950s, against formidable competitors
Eddy Arnold, Lefty Frizzell and Jim Reeves.
Proceeds from the album, which topped the prestige Americana charts for
six weeks in 2002, go to the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation.
Willie Nelson recorded his vocal for 'That's Me Without You' on
his tour bus, with the engine humming in the deep background.
Guy Clark's role as the protagonist of 'Honky Tonk Song' contrasted
starkly with the smooth Jordanaires featured in the background.
Highlights included Lionel Cartwright on 'That Heart Belongs to Me,'
Crystal Gayle on 'More And More' and Alison Moorer with
'Back Street Affair.'
Robbie Fulks and Joy Lynn White duetted on 'Tupelo County Jail,' George
Jones sang 'Yes I Know Why,' Dwight Yoakam glided through If
You Were Me,' Dale Watson was backed by The Jordanaires on 'In
The Jailhouse Now' and BR549 delivered a riveting cut of 'There
Stands The Glass.'
And for those who can't get enough of Gail Davies here is her complete
Gail Davies Discography (Albums released)
1978 Gail Davies / Lifesong/CBS Records / produced by Tommy West
1980 The Game / Warner Bros. / produced by Gail Davies
1981 I'll Be There / Warner Bros. / produced by Gail Davies
1982 Giving Herself Away / Warner Bros. / produced by Gail Davies
1983 What Can I Say / Warner Bros. / produced by Gail Davies
1984 Where is a Woman to Go / RCA Records / produced by Gail Davies &
and Leland Sklar
1986 Wild Choir / RCA Records / produced by Gail Davies & and Pete
1989 Pretty Words / MCA Records / produced by Gail Davies & and Jimmy
1990 The Other Side of Love / Capitol/EMI / produced by Gail Davies
1990 The Best of Gail Davies / Capitol/EMI / produced by Gail Davies
1995 Eclectic / Little Chickadee Productions / produced by Gail Davies
1998 Gail Davies Greatest Hits / Koch Records / produced by Gail Davies
1999 Love Ain't Easy / Little Chickadee / produced by Gail Davies
2001 Live at the Station Inn / Valley Records / produced by Gail Davies
2003 Gail Davies "The Songwriter Sessions" / Little Chickadee
Productions / produced by Gail Davies
Gail Davies (Singles released and Billboard chart positions)
1978 No Love Have I #26
1982 Boys Like You #18
1978 Poison Love #23
1982 Singing the Blues #16
1978 Someone is Looking #11
1983 You Turn Me On I'm a Radio #17
1989 Blue Heartache #7
1983 It's You Alone (duet with Ricky Skaggs) #54
1980 I'll Be There #4
1984 Break Away #15
1981 It's a Lovely World (with Emmylou Harris) #5
1984 - Jagged Edge of a Broken Heart #21
1981 Grandma's Song #9
1985 Unwed Fathers ( duet with Dolly Parton) #56
1981 Round the Clock Lovin' #9
1986 - Heart to Heart (Wild Choir) #42
1982 Hold On #18
1986 Safe in the Arms of Love (Wild Choir) #18
1982 You're A Hard Dog to Keep Under the Porch #17
1989 Waiting Here For You #36
Gail Davies appears on
other artist's albums:
Ralph Stanley "Clinch Mountain Sweethearts" (2002) Duet Vocal
Neil Young "Old Ways" (1985) Duet Vocal
Emmylou Harris "The Ballad of Sally Rose" (1985) Vocals
Hoyt Axton "Southbound" (1975) Vocals
The Whites "Greatest Hits" (1987) Vocals
Hugh Moffatt "Life of a Minor Poet" (1996) Duet Vocal
Hoyt Axton "Road Songs" (1977) Vocal & Tamborine
Paul Craft "Brother Jukebox" (1998) Vocals
Lacy J. Dalton "Dream Baby" (1982) Vocals
Emmylou Harris "Portraits" (1996) Vocals
Michael Dinner "The Great Pretender" (1974) Vocals
Tom Pacheco "Swallowed Up in American Heartland" Vocals
Rosie Flores "Speed of Sound" (2001) Vocals
Gail Davies' songs appear on other artist's albums:
Jann Browne "Tell Me Why"
The Whites "The Whites Greatest Hits"
Sweethearts of the Rodeo "One Time, One Night"
Lynn Anderson "Good Times"
Nana Mouskouri "Come With Me"
Wild Rose "Listen to Your Heart"
George Hamilton IV "Someone is Looking"
Colleen Peterson "Colleen Peterson"
Jann Browne "It Only Hurts When I Laugh"
Karen Tobin "Carolina Smokey Moon"
Ava Barber "Bucket to the South"
Alison Johnson "With a Boy Like You"
The Country Gentlemen "Good as Gold"
Patty Mitchell "The Good Old Days"
The Mustangs "Next Time"
Lawrence Welk "Musical Anthology"
Artists who have appeared on Gail Davies' albums:
Ricky Skaggs (duet / Blue Heartache) Gail Davies Greatest Hits
Vince Gill (duet / Lovin' Me Too) The Other Side of Love
Dolly Parton (duet / Unwed Fathers) Where is a Woman to Go
Kathy Mattea (duet / What Can I Say) Gail Davies Greatest Hits
Emmylou Harris (duet / A Lovely World) I'll Be There / Gail Davies Greatest
Kathy Chiavola (duet / Reaching Out For Him) Live at the Station Inn
Mandy Barnett Gail Davies Greatest Hits / Live at the Station Inn
Jon Cowan Where Is A Woman To Go, Eclectic
Michelle Wright Gail Davies Greatest Hits
Kevin Welch (duet / Tomorrow Is a Long, Long Time) Live at the Station
Ricky Skaggs (duet / It's You Alone) What Can I Say, Greatest Hits
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