When I got ready to start school my parents were told that since school started in September and my sixth birthday wasn't until the 28th of October I would have to wait until the next year, so I was nearly 7 years old when I began first grade.
I never had a chance to learn anything at all about playing a guitar until I was about 15, and even then I didn't have anybody to teach me. It was catch as catch can, learning a chord here and a lick there. By today’s standards it took me quite a while to achieve any degree of proficiency.
I was almost 22 when I cut the apron strings and struck out to make my living in the music business. I bounced around the country for the next 10 years, and in the process I acquired a wife and baby with little else to show for my decade as a professional musician.
We moved to Nashville in 1967, going on 31 years old and not only changing my whole base of operations but also jumping into the middle of one of the most competitive music scenes in existence, where the players were excellent and the last thing they needed was another guitar picker.
I soon found out that I was not suited nor equipped to be a first call studio musician who has to adapt, sometimes several times a day, to whatever recording session they walked into.
I was a veteran of 10 years on the road playing at beer joints, where everything was pedal to the metal, and Nashville recording sessions could require anything from a whispery acoustical guitar to a sparsely played, toned down electric part. It just wasn't something I was good at.
So, I headed in the other direction.
I signed my first real recording contract in Los Angeles with Capitol Records at the age of 35, when most of the competition had not broken their twenties.
I won't bore you with the details that lead to my signing with Kama Sutra Records, but at the age of 36, I had my first hit with a song called "Uneasy Rider."
We had our first gold album, Fire on the Mountain, in 1974 when I was 37.
At the "musically over the hill" age of 40, I signed with Epic Records, where, at the age of 43, we had a song called, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
At the age of 45, we had had two successive platinum albums, won four CMA awards, a Grammy, three ACM awards, had done a couple of foreign tours and were selling out large venues in this country.
I went into my fifties full tilt, living my dream, touring, writing and recording songs and accomplishing my goal of performing in all fifty states.
In November of 2007, I was informed one night that I was being invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, fulfilling a lifelong dream and once again proving the goodness of God in granting me another fondly held desire of my heart.
I was inducted on January 19, 2008 at the Ryman Auditorium. I was 71 years old.
A few weeks ago, something incredible and wonderful happened to me: I was told by Sarah Trahern, president of the Country Music Association, that 12 days before my 80th birthday, I would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I have been asked many times since then how I feel about it. I really don't have the words to express the depth of my honor, my humility, my gratitude and my gratefulness to God for this glorious blessing.
My reason for writing this article is twofold.
In this youth oriented world where it seems styles, media and entertainment are mostly aimed at a younger demographic, where people are forced into retirement for no other reason than they turn 65, I sometimes think that we are preconditioned to believe that the number of years we have lived automatically makes us old.
I admit that in many physical ways the passing years do take their toll on our bodies forcing us to make adjustments as to just what and how quickly we can do things.
But that being said, at least for those who want to, I don't think advanced age, health allowing, should be an excuse to let all the spice go out of your life.
I'm not saying that everybody has to maintain a fulltime career like I do, or a career at all for that matter, but whether it's work, a hobby or something else we can be passionate about – something that you look forward to, something to get you out of bed in the morning, something to keep a little excitement in your life – I believe just doing something productive helps you maintain a healthy attitude and a zest for living.
Secondly, I wanted to encourage those of you out there, young or old, who seem to take a little longer to accomplish their goals or get to the places in life they want to go.
Here’s a little advice:
Never compare your accomplishments, your progress nor your achievements with someone else’s.
You're apt to be either disappointed or smug, and neither one is a good thing.
Do things at your own pace, neither looking behind nor ahead of you. Keep your eyes on the goal and your feet on the path, and proceed at your own speed.
Remember, life is your race. Run it the way you want to.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
Charlie Daniels is a legendary American singer, song writer, guitarist, and fiddler famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.