Paul Finebaum's first interview with Buddy Buie on April 13, 2006
Paul: We welcome you back. Couple of weeks ago I got a note from my good friend, Ronnie Quarles, who runs our affiliate WTBC in Tuscaloosa. He said he'd done a show with a fellow named Buddy Buie. He said it was one the great shows they'd ever done over there and he said,"You need to get Buddy Buie on."
I said,"We'll see if we can track him down," and now I'm looking across the table at Buddy Buie, who has had an extraordinary career and I must confess Buddy, I know the music but I didn't know the story and it's a great pleasure to talk to you.
Buddy: It's a pleasure to talk to you.
Paul: For those who...
& we're going to play some songs in a few minutes which are going to do more than ring a bell! They're going to resonate because they did with me. Pat Smith and I were going over some of your music today. You grew up in Dothan, Alabama and you got into music.
Buddy: First of all let me say, thank you for inviting me and I'm mighty proud to be here. I was born in Dothan, Alabama [note: Buddy was actually born in Marianna, Florida but his family returned to Dothan while he was still an infant] and I always loved listening to the radio. I knew most of the songs...before....I knew them by their intros, you know.
So when I was in high school, I had some buddies.
Bobby Goldsboro is the second one from the top.
& so anyway, I started writing the songs in high school because I would keep them to myself because I was a little ashamed to tell everybody. I was embarrassed.
"You don't write songs!"
"YES! I DO!"
But I'd write them in my head because I don't really play an instrument but I found a friend of mine in Dothan, Alabama, John Rainey Adkins. I finally got the nerve to tell him about my songs and he was the first one that didn't laugh. So he said,"Let's work out something."
So we'd sit in front of his house in a '56 Chevrolet and write songs. Well, to make a ...I'll try to speed this up.
From there I promoted shows too in the Dothan area and Roy Orbison came to Dothan and Roy and I became friends and he became friends with the boys in the band called The Webs.
One day he said, " I want to take this band on the road." and I said,"I'm not going to let you take that band on the road unless you take me with you!"
& so off we went to see the world!
I met Bill Lowery from Atlanta in 1965 and we had a hit with a young guy by the name of Tommy Roe and that kind of started things and I moved to Atlanta. Then in 1967, the producer of this group called THE CLASSICS IV took sick and they were doing one of my songs so I was..., by default, turned out to be their producer and they cut "Spooky".
"Spooky" later on became a very big song; was recorded by a lot of people.
Then we had "Stormy" & "Traces of Love" & "Everyday With You Girl", all those hits right in a row.
Paul: Why don't we listen and then talk about how it came together.
[they play a recording of "Spooky"]
So you did "Spooky" with THE CLASSICS IV. It was a big hit with THE CLASSICS IV.
Buddy: It was #2 in the country.
Paul: & then it became a hit with the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
Buddy: The Atlanta Rhythm Section recorded it and it became a big hit again and then David Sandborne, the great saxophonist, recorded it and it was a #1 "Jazz Instrumental".
It started as a jazz instrumental.
Paul: We were looking earlier today and this song's been done by a lot of folks.
Buddy: Yeah, it has.
We've been real fortunate there because a lot of people seem to like it and it seems to have a life of its own. It's been almost...
That long since it was recorded...
Paul: Do you have a personal favorite among the productions?
Buddy: I produced two of them.
Paul: That's a loaded question!
Buddy: CLASSICS IV & THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION so those are my favorites.
Paul: I want to hear THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION in a moment because I'm curious, in doing and having a huge hit in '68, with THE CLASSICS IV, how much later?
Buddy: I think we recorded in '80 with THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION. Yeah, we recorded it in 1980.
Paul: How much different was it?
Buddy: Not really that much different except the solo is not a sax solo, it's a guitar solo played by the great Barry Bailey that I thought was sensational and it was basically the same structure as the original record.
Paul: The one song, when I was listening to it this morning, I'm not just saying this...
because it's one of the great songs I grew up with & I think so many people when they hear it think,"That guy put this one together!"
Before we listen to it...
CLASSICS IV did it. So many people have done it. How many people have done....
Who else did "Traces" other than THE CLASSICS IV?
Buddy: Well you know, it was done by a lot of instrumental artists...the most recent was Gloria Estafan. We have had so many instrumentals, like everybody from Montovani to...gosh, you know, Paul, it's been recorded about 75 times!
Paul: & this song made the charts on two consecutive years- THE CLASSICS IV & THE LETTERMEN.
Buddy: I almost forgot the LETTERMEN record. That's right! Yes! THE LETTERMEN had a big record with it!
Paul: That's got to be pretty unusual, I mean, you see it in a different generation but the next year!
Buddy: I think the reason is two different audiences, you know, CLASSICS IV , "Top 40" & THE LETTERMEN were, at the time we called "Good Music". It's now called "Adult Contemporary".
Paul: Let's listen to one of my all time favorites, "Traces"
[play a recording of "Traces"]
Buddy Buie, tell me, is terms of putting this song together, what...
Depending on how old you are, it takes you back to another time but what does this song remind you of?
Buddy: This song,this lady who's sitting to my right,
was written for...
It was written about my wife and the song to me...
One of the proudest moments & comments I can make about this song is about ten years ago, Broadcast Music Incorporated, BMI, had their 50th Anniversary. Of all the songs in the complete catalog, "Traces" was the 34th most played song- #1 was "Yesterday". #49 was "My Way".
So we're in there with a lot of nice people. It was played so much. It was played on a cross section of radio stations from "Pop" to "Adult Contemporary", even "R & B", stations like that.
Paul: What did you think of the Gloria Estafan rendition?
Buddy: Well, I was tickled pink to have it!
She was pregnant when she did that, and I don't think they spent as much time as I'd like to see her take with it, but, hey, I'm grateful she recorded it! Very good move for us. She's a great singer.
Paul: Let's see how she did it.
[play a recording of Gloria Estafan's version of "Traces"]
Paul: I may be old fashioned. I think I'll take the earlier version.
Buddy: I'm not knocking it at all.
Paul: Buddy Buie is our guest, We'll also get to your phone calls later on , 1-866-741-7285.
There are so many great songs. We'll listen to that as well.
You also did a song about a fellow who once coached at the University of Alabama.
We'll talk about that as well as your phone calls as we roll on...
[begins with a recording of "Imaginary Lover"]
Paul: I'm afraid to ask you, Buddy, what you were thinking about when you wrote this one?
Buddy: The answer is, "YES!"
Paul: That takes a few of us back to high school, too!
Paul: Buddy Buie is our guest and his career is legendary. You're in a couple music hall of fames I was reading, of course, including the Alabama and the Georgia. That was the Atlanta Rhythm Section doing your song. I'm a writer of newspaper columns, not a writer of music. How in the world do you come up with the lyrics to some of the songs we've heard?
Buddy: Well, the songs...
The way I write songs; I am not a trained musician. I'm a guitar owner. I don't call myself a guitar player. I write with great musicians. I've always picked good musicians to write with. I'll come in and say,"O.K., I got this idea. Here's the idea," and I'd hum a little of the way I'd heard it. The guitar player or the keyboard guy would say," Hey, yeah! That sounds good! Let's try it!" and then he'll give me his ideas. The lyrics...
J.R. Cobb, who I wrote "Spooky", "Stormy", all the CLASSICS, "Traces"...
all the things we're listening to, he's a great guitar player. Dean Daughtry, the keyboardist for the Atlanta Rhythm Section, and Robert Nix, we wrote the songs "Imaginary Lover", "So Into You", "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight" for the Atlanta Rhythm Section and so the way I write songs is like hunting and pecking on the typewriter. You know, you can write a pretty good sentence even if you do it with one finger, you know...
Paul: I've always wondered because, not that I've attempted to write a song but you'll be walking down the street or you'll be waking up & you'll be thinking...
Do you have a notepad by your bed?
Paul: Your wife's laughing here!
Paul: My thing, I'm very disorganized. I tell all my co-writers,"If it's not good enough to remember, it's not good enough to keep!" and I kinda live by that...
Paul: You don't fear you're gonna come up with...
You've already come up with some good ones!...
You're not afraid you're gonna miss the greatest line of your career in the middle of the night?
Buddy: The minute I think of one I catalogue it in my head. I go like, "O.K., I gotta remember this! This is cool!"
So I remember it. I very rarely forget 'em.
Now, at my age now, I probably forget a lot!
Paul: "So Into You", another huge hit for the Atlanta Rhythm Section
[play a recording of "So Into You"]
Paul: I bet you're pretty proud of this one.
Buddy: Yes. It was very big. It was the first big song by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. We had been making records since 1970 and this happened in 1976. If this album hadn't been a hit then the record company was gonna drop us so it's got a great place in my mind because it...
Paul: Do you feel that group ever got...
They had a lot of big hits, but did they get the appreciation and recognition that they deserved?
Buddy: I don't think so but I'll tell you one of the reasons why is all of 'em were serious musicians, serious session musicians.
They performed because there was demand for them to perform but they never really were a band that loved the road. They were very straight ahead. They didn't get a lot of publicity because they didn't actually want a lot of publicity. We had great guitar players in that band: J.R. Cobb, Barry Bailey. Had a great keyboardist, Dean Daughtry. Paul Goddard on bass. Everybody in that band was very serious about music. We did all that starting in about 1970 when I opened this studio called STUDIO 1 which STUDIO 1, a lot of people know because Lynyrd Skynyrd, all their stuff there.
It was a nice studio. We recorded there at night and Skynyrd recorded in the daytime.
Paul: Can't believe those songs were done in the day!
Buddy: The Skynyrd stuff was done...
Sounds like it was done at midnight!
Paul: Maybe some TIME like I've never seen!
Buddy: A lot of artificial inspiration, you think?
Paul: I imagine none of that happened...
Buddy Buie's our guest, we're gonna open the phone lines in a minute. We're also gonna get to a song you wrote about one Coach Paul Bryant. You also did a song that B.J. Thomas made a hit.
We were doing a B.J. Thomas hour a couple of weeks ago with some of his...
Buddy: Oh really! Was he in town or something?
Paul: Somehow I can't even remember the genesis of it. We started playing a B.J. Thomas song and we all started going down his book.
Anyway, Buddy Buie's with us.
His hometown of Dothan...
A lot of this stuff was done in Atlanta, I guess, produced in Atlanta.
Buddy: Yes, most of it was done in Atlanta.
Paul: We'll get to your phone calls if you wanna give us a ring, it's 866-741-7285
[play a recording of "The Day Bear Bryant Died"]
Paul: Wow! Buddy Buie! "The Day Bear Bryant Died" ! An extraordinary song!
Buddy, how did it come about?
Buddy: Ronnie Hammond, the lead singer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and I were at Lake Lanier staying in a ...
We rented a place to write for an upcoming Atlanta Rhythm Section album and it was in January of '83. Bear'd just died and Keith Jackson was narrating the procession and people lined up and down the road. Well, like, you know, usually a songwriter...
I'm a professional songwriter. Like I don't see a sunset and write a song about a sunset. This is an exception to the rule. We heard this song...
I mean we saw the parade, I mean, the procession.
God, I'm saying all the wrong words.
Paul: I understand.
Buddy: We saw the procession. It was not a parade!
Paul: It could have been.
Buddy: And we started writing.
Matter of fact, we didn't write for the Atlanta Rhythm Section at all that day. Later on, demo-ed it and ...
then we basically just forgot it because it was never meant to be a commercial endeavor and Harrison Parrish, one of the founders of MOVIE GALLERY
He's a friend of mine. He and his girlfriend were at our house one night and I played "The Day Bear Bryant Died".
He said,"Man, you gotta do something with THAT!"
He introduced me to people at the university 'cause I didn't know anybody there. I used to book bands at the Sigma Nu house at the university and go up there but I didn't know anybody there so he introduce me around and one thing led to another and right now, this song..
We're gonna give a lot of the proceeds of this song to the Bear Bryant Museum.
Paul: Other than your interview on Ronnie Quarles' station, that song has never been heard outside of Tuscaloosa until today?
Buddy: It hasn't.
Paul: It needs to be.
Buddy: My dream is to be in Bryant-Denny Stadium and the whole crowd sings along with the chorus!
Buddy: That's my dream!
Paul: I was somewhat facetious about a song we played about that time but THAT is an extraordinary song!
Buddy: Thank you so much! I hope the BAMA Nation will look for it because it's gonna be coming out in mid August , right before football season and we hope to have the Atlanta Rhythm Section and a couple more people go up to the university and play before one of the games. We really want to promote it. Not only to help the Bryant Museum and CTSM [ed. note: Crimson Tide Sports Marketing]
We just want Bear's vision, Bear's memory to live on.
Paul: Buddy Buie's with us and we've certainly talked about his career as a producer and a songwriter. We've played "Spooky" and "Traces" and "Imaginary Lover" and so many of the famous songs that you have written and produced.
People've been waiting for a while. We want to give people around our listening audience an opportunity to visit with you. We don't have a lot of time for calls but we'll try to get to as many as possible.
Catherine, you're on with Buddy Buie.
Catherine? Not working here. Let me try George in Geneva. Go ahead.
George: Hello, Paul.
George: Just wanted to call and say, Paul, I'm a fan of the show. Listen regularly.
Sometimes I wonder what some of the topics have to do with sports. I'm a big sports fan but one thing I love equally as sports is music and ,particularly, a big Southern Rock fan.
Grew up in the 70s. A big ARS fan and a big Buddy Buie fan. I read the jackets of the albums and I'm familiar with a lot of the names.
Buddy: Thank you.
George: Knew Buddy was from the same part of the country I was from or I am from...
Work with a guy who is married to a cousin of Dean Daughtry who I think is from Andalusia or Opp...
Buddy: He is.
George: That area...
Buddy: He is.
George: Thanks for the music. I've enjoyed it all my life and proud for you to have contributed what you have to the music industy but Paul.
Appreciate you having Buddy on.
Paul: It's our pleasure.
George: I think you hit a homerun with this one, particularly for me.
Paul: Well, thanks. I appreciate the call. Hate to run but we want to get a few more folks on.
Catherine is on with Buddy Buie.
Go right ahead, Catherine.
Catherine: Hey, I'm so sorry that my phone...
Paul: Go right ahead!
Catherine: I just wanted to tell you, Buie, that I am one of the biggest fans of you because my whole life...
I used to play all those Dennis Yost music.
Buddy: Um hum.
Catherine: I don't know whether you were with them at Samford in 1974 where they had a concert.
Buddy: I don't...
You know, there's been so many concerts, so many dates, I don't remember. I probably was though.
Catherine: I wanna tell you that all of your music is really sexy!
Paul: Let's listen to "Stormy". This is one of your biggest hits, I guess.
Buddy: Yes, one of the big hits by Dennis Yost & The Classics IV.
[play a recording of "Stormy"]
Paul: Wow! He belted that one out, didn't he!
Buddy: He's a great singer!
Paul: Whoa! That leaves me breathless! Buddy Buie is our guest. You've heard...
I'm shook up! ALL SHOOK UP!
Joe is next with Buddy Buie. Go right ahead, Joe.
Joe: Paul, a great thing you got here with Buddy and it's really been enjoyable.
Buddy: Yes, sir!
Joe: When is the last time that you wrote a song and is it possible with your background, I mean, can you get into what we're hearing today to the point that it might be popular again?
Buddy: To be perfectly honest with you, a lot of music of today, Hip Hop & Rap, I give 'em their props. I give 'em all the respect in the world because they figured a way to communicate with the world but they don't communicate with me very well and probably my music probably doesn't communicate with them.
Joe: Well, have you stopped writing?
Buddy: No, I've not stopped writing. I don't write like I used to 'cause it messes with my fishin' and my traveling.
Paul: His newest hit's gonna be "The Ballad of Paul Finebaum"!
LAUGHTER [Now you can really hear Gloria Buie laughing]
Joe: One last question and I'm gonna run, Paul's got a bunch of people...
Do you watch "American Idol"?
Buddy: Oh, I certainly do, I'm a Taylor fan, too, Man!
Paul: When are they gonna do "Buddy Buie Songs"?
Buddy: Well, I don't know but I wish they would!
Paul: Taylor could do a few of your songs.
Buddy: YOU KNOW TAYLOR!
YOU GOTTA TALK TO HIM!
Joe, appreciate it.
We'll come back but we're not gonna have enough time today. We're gonna have to get Buddy back.
Back after this.
FINEBAUM IS AS FINEBAUM DOES!
THE PAUL FINEBAUM RADIO NETWORK!
[play a recording of "Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight"
Paul: Another one of Buddy's hits!
And we haven't got half done today!
We're booking you again!
Buddy: I'd love to come back!
Paul: We're booking you for the whole summer!
Paul: Let's continue with some more phone calls.
Mack is calling from Dothan, Alabama. Hey, Mack!
Mack: Hey Paul! How're you doing, buddy?
Paul: How're you doing?
Mack: Great show! Man, Buddy! Great to finally talk to you!
Buddy: Good talkin' to you!
Mack: My brother, Shannon Meckly and I were driving by on Irwin Street about a year ago. You know, we were driving in that neighborhood over by Southside and he told me, "Buddy Buie grew up in that house!"
Paul: National Landmark!
Buddy: 1008 Irwin Street!
Mack: That's right! I just wanted to say, Paul, only one thing's bigger than Buddy's music and that's Buie's Cafe!
That his father owned. His great parents!
On Foster Street!
That's a wonderful place to eat!
Of course, it's no longer there now, but, uh, I called Harrison Parrish and told him you were on and called up Bobby's brother, Jimmy at the bank over there to tell them you were on but, uh, just wanted to say, uh, how I followed your music, uh, do you ever get down to Dothan, Buddy?
Buddy: All the time! My mother lives there and I go... you know, I live at the lake. I live at Eufaula.
Paul: Thanks Mack. Appreciate the call.
Of the Atlanta Rhythm Section songs, is there one you would take with you to your grave? If you could take one of the bunch?
Buddy: Well, if I had to differentiate between hits and album cuts, there was an album cut called "Dog Days" that's near and dear to my heart,and, um, but the hits, uh, I suppose...
It's hard for me to pick. It's like, "Which child do you like best?"
It's hard for me to do that.
Paul: Pretty good stuff! Let's continue with Buddy Buie. Jesse is calling from Montgomery. Go right ahead, Jesse.
Jesse: Hey, Buddy!
Jesse: You know I never met you but I was a friend of John Rainey's.
Buddy: Oh really!
Jesse: When you said that name, I thought,"HE WAS THE MAN!"
Buddy: If it hadn't been for John Rainey, I wouldn't be having this conversation with Paul right now!
Jesse: Well, I tell you, people probably don't know him because he never wanted to travel out of Houston County...
Buddy: That's true, too!
Jesse: But he was The Man when it came to playing and arranging music!
Buddy: Yeah, he was great!
Jesse: And my favorite song of yours is "Georgia Pines"!
Buddy: Well, thank you.
Jesse: That was a great, great song.
Buddy: The great Wilbur Walton!
Jesse: Yeah. Let me ask you this. Do you know what's happened to Joe South?
Buddy: I talked to Joe not too long ago. He's doing fine. He's living in Atlanta. He's not writing much anymore but he's a great one!
Jesse: He was a great one!
Paul: 'Preciate the call. Let me ask you about, you... did,uh,
two songs for B.J. Thomas.
Buddy: Um, hum.
Paul: He was certainly...
How did that relationship come about?
Buddy: B.J., his producer...
His producer at the time was a guy by the name of...
uh, I mean his manager was guy named Steve Tyrel.
Now Steve has made the jump from a manager to one of the prominent jazz singers right now so he brought him to me and B.J. and I became friends.
Matter of fact, I'm gonna see him down in LaGrange, Georgia in a couple of weeks.
Paul: One of them right here!
[play a recording of "Most Of All"]
Paul: "Most OF All" You also did "Mighty Clouds of Joy"
Buddy: "Mighty Clouds of Joy"! Yeah!
Paul: Wasn't a bad one here!
Buddy: Al Green recorded that too!
Paul: He sure did!
Let's grab one or two more calls...
Unfortunately, we're just running out of time here but Terry is down in Dothan. Hey Terry!
Terry: Hey Paul. Buddy, I didn't get to talk to you. Are you still involved with ARS and are they going to be doing any new studio things and
#2: I had an opportunity to interview Barry Bailey doing a Southern Rock Radio Show and he told me that his personal favorite ARS album was the first album but, you know, you can't find it on CD now and I was wondering why...
Buddy: It was the only...
That was for MCA Records. You can go...
If you can go to amazon.com
or to, what's the big site, some of the Internet sites and some foreign record companies have it but as far as the band, The Rhythm Section, yeah, they're still playing. A lot of the members of the band, the original members, have gone their own separate ways and the great guitar player, Barry Bailey has retired. He retired about three months ago.
Terry: I wasn't aware of that.
Buddy: The band's still doing great and as far as recording...
but on this...
I don't know if you heard that Bear Bryant song we played a few minutes ago...
On that album we're gonna have Rhythm Section cuts. We gonna put some of the old stuff on there and then Ronnie Hammond, who sang "The Day Bear Bryant Died" is with the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
He's retired though.
Paul: So many great songs for The Atlanta Rhythm Section!
For the CLASSICS IV!
Buddy Buie, who's heading toward...
He's in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame!
He's in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame!
& now he's in the FINEBAUM HALL OF FAME!
because this is one of the best shows we've had in a long time!
Buddy: Thank you so much! I've really enjoyed being here!
Paul: We hope to see you this summer.
Buddy: I'd love to come back!
Paul: We'll pause right here.