Country Music


Barbara Mandrell on "I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool"

Barbara Mandrell discusses "I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool."

AIRED: September 15, 2019 | 0:02:55

- In the old days, they used to call it package shows.

That was when you would have an artist

and then there would be other artists put with them

to make a package,

so it would be well worth people's buying tickets, you know?

My first time to tour, I had just turned 13

and it was on the Johnny Cash package show.

He had George Jones, Patsy Cline,

and he had me, and June Carter was a guest.

There was no steel guitar,

and the very first night that we performed

I was put on just before George Jones

and I went out and played the steel

and when it was all over, George came to me and said,

"you know, if gave you a piece of paper

"with my songs and my keys,

"and I did one song after they introduced me,

"if I brought you back on stage,

"would you be so kind as to play steel for me

"while I do the rest of my show?"

And I said, oh yes sir, Mister Jones, I'd be thrilled.

I remember Town Hall Party,

and I'm in public school at that time in California,

and while I'd had this big live audience

and the huge television audience,

even though it was just California there,

when I would go back to school

and I'm 11 and turning 12 years old on that show,

when I'd go back to school on Mondays

after the show on Saturday night,

I would hear things like "yee-haw, that country music"

and kids poking fun.

And I shared some of this

with Kye Flemming and Dennis Morgan

who had written their first song together for me,

which was "Sleeping Single In A Double Bed"

and they asked me some other stories

about being in California at that time

and doing country music, and I shared those stories

and it was within 24 hours that they came back to me

and said, "we want to play you something",

and they wrote, for me,

"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool".

It all came from the real story.

It was one of the years I hosted

the Country Music Association Awards Show

and I was going to sing

"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"

and George Jones was to be sitting in the audience

and we would sing it together.

Now, we did not get to rehearse it

but they told me he either will be there

or he won't be there, so you wing it

and he was there, and I saw him, and I went out and got him

and brought him up on the stage with me singing it

and it was just a big thrill for me

because it was a special moment.

And as usual, he sang it differently

than he ever sang it before.

That was his stylistic way.

It is the story of my life, yep.

It's my signature song, because it's what I lived.