Merle Monroe Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout
Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe
yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
Answer: I believe honest, blue collar, common
musicians. I grew up in a very hard working family. My father was a brick layer
and my mother a seamstress. They loved country and bluegrass music. So, we
really try to stay real and not pretentious. So many bands or individuals on
stage are someone else in real life. Our music is real life stuff. I also
believe music is the great common denominator that brings people together from
all walks of life. Thats what we stive to do.
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not,
how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
Answer: I wrote a good majority of the songs on our
up and coming CD. We did record some favorite songs from other writers too from
Nashville, Tn. We were looking for songs that would relate to our demographics
and also have a great deal of emotion. If you study great songs, in any kind of
music, you will find when somewherein that song, there will be a great lift. In
Bluegrass (Rocky Top) by the Osborne Brothers would be a great example. Country
( He stop loving her today) By George Jones Pop ( Open Arms) By Journey Really pull at peoples heart strings.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by
radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to
Answer: Our current single is our Christmas song.
Merle Monroe “Oh the Joy of Christman‘‘
Its already doing so well in the US and also in parts of the world.
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
Answer: We believe our next single will be ‘‘ Big
Wheels‘‘ Song about truckers and what they go through in life on the road. We
really appreciate Semi Truckers who have to leave their families to bring goods
to all of us. We have a great deal of trucking companies in Nashville, Tn. 60% of the US population lives with in 600
miles of Nashville. Ths was a hit for Merle Haggard in the erly 1970‘s
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record
Answer: We love story songs. Again, songs that
people have lived and can relate to. However, an uptempo song can be alot of
itschka: What is your favorite song among all the
songs you have recorded and what’s the story behind it?
Answer: This song is not out yet, however, I have
wrote the song about the great state of Kentucky. Home of US President Abraham Lincoln and The Father of
Bluegrass Bill Monore.‘‘Beautiful Kentucky‘‘ is the title. I woke up early,
like I always do… …..I have become like Roger Miller. The great singer and
songwriter of ’‘ Dang Me‘‘ and ‘‘King Of The Road‘‘ Fame. They said he never
slept… by the way, not comparing myself to him. Roger Miller was one of the
greatest songwriters ever! Anyway, I had this great melody stuck in my head
(the high lift) I was speaking earlier about. I sat down and wrote the chorus.
It gave me chills. So writing the versus came easy to me. It has a raise your
glass anthem feel to it like you would sing in a pub about your beloved
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have
over your music?
Answer: We have alot the creative control. However,
we do like feedback from the label executives. I believe there is great wisdom
in a multitude of counselors. To their credit,they let us express ourselves the
way we like to see ourselves.
Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories
about how fans have been affected by your music?
Answer: I played in Japan years ago and for about 1.5
years after I left, I would still get fan mail. It was so precious and I was so
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep
do your musical roots run?
Answer: I started playing when I was about 7 years of
age. By the time I was in the 4th grade, I could play ‘‘ Sound Of Silence‘‘ . I
had a teacher in school who was learning how to play guitar. So when I pulled
my guitar out of my case to play the song for a charming little girl who was
brave enough to get up in front of her 150 student piers and sing the Simon and
Garfunkle song, he couldn’t believe I could pull it off. He was impressed. (
looking back now, probably not that good) Ha…..Now, I have so many people to thank for my love of
music. My Father. He was a great fiddle player and he loved music so much. My
mother was a hummer…. she didn’t sing (I think she wanted to) she loved music
too. My greatest inspriation, musically, was Bobby Osborne. He was half of the
Osborne Brothers. Rocky Top and Windy City (he wrote) Allison Krauss just
recorded it. Bill Monroe. Although not thought of as a great singer, he was so
believeable. Great emotion.
County music no doubt, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Vern
Gosdin, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill
Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music
Answer: American Country music is not good in my
opinion. The big Corporations who own the record companies only look at numbers
and not music. I am a business guy too. I do understand numbers as well.
However It’s losts its way. They will take a chance an alienate its base to
find new listeners by putting out new music that their older base doesn’t care
for. Bluegrass music is alittle stuck
right now. It needs alot more NEWER artist. I was chatting with a lady who is
the Queen of Bluegrass music the other day and she stated, the music needs new
and fresh music to bring back alot of excitement to the festivals…I am
Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change
something about the music industry, what would it be?
Answer: dont forget about the older
generations…play what they love too. You know WSM radio does a great job at
this and thats why its been on the radio for a very long time. They have great
disc jockies and the play the new musicbut they also play alot of older grand
ole opry artist their older audience loves to hear. A really good mix. Then
they will throw in a Bluegrass song…. I don’t know anyother major radio
station that will do that!
Lamitschka: As an artist, you so many tasks such as
recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what’s your favorite
Answer: Performing that one song everyone has been
waiting to hear. Look at their face and it brings them joy to hear a song they
love. I love interviewing too. I am just amazed anyone would want to hear my
thoughts and opinion about what I love to do for fun, my family ect…. I am
humbled by it to be honest!
Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take music
beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?
Answer: Never happy settling … I like to
experiment with music to see who else we can reach.. I love traveling to other
area’s of the world to play our music to see who may like it.
Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you
into the music business?
Answer: In 1997, My brother ( Marty Raybon) lead
singer with the country group Shenadoah, he left the group and he and I
recorded for Universal MCA Records. George Staight,Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood,
Reba McEntire’s lable. We recorded ‘‘Butterfly Kisses‘‘ sold alot of records.
We did a Duet with Oliva Newton John. Big thrill for us. What an amazing woman she
is. Thats what got me into the “business“ however, I went back to my roots playing more Bluegrass style.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
Answer: All the artist in my youth. Chet Atkins,
George Jones, Jonny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty…..They seemed to all
be so interesting to me. None of them were big talkers. Also, didn’t do alot of
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a
Answer: I guess, thinking you can write something
that can change a person’s life or bring them joy. Also great songwriters from
the past. I had a great friend Eddie Synder ( He wrote, Blue Spanish Eyes, Strangers
in the Night, Hundred pounds of Clay) and so many more…. He inspired me
because of his humility. He was very old when I met him but he still wrote
Lamitschka: What does it take to be a music icon?
Answer: GREAT SONGS! Thats it! You have to have the
ability to find them or write them. Both very hard to do….
Lamitschka: What’s unique about you that will
differentiate you from other artists?
Answer: My range in my voice. I can sing pretty low
and sing very high. So that lets us pick various songs where we dont get stuck
with the same sound.
Lamitschka: What has been your greatest challenge in
Answer: Keeping my voice in great shape. When you get
older, you cant last as long as you once did at a younger age. Have to be
mindful of that. Rest is hard to come by too. Thats a major challenge for me.
Lamitschka: What moments in your career stand out in
your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?
Answer: I tell you playing the Grand Ole Opry or the
Ryman or a little venue with 200 people still thrills me. Again, everytime I
play and people sit there and listen and hopefully enjoy the music, is a
highlight…and very humbling!
Lamitschka: Any thoughts of retirement ahead?
Answer: None right now. I love what I do. There is a
line in a Merle Haggard song I love and it’s so true. ‘‘I live the kind of
life, that most men only dream of‘‘ Kick
the footlights out again is the song I am referencing
Lamitschka: Who is your biggest critic, yourself or
Answer: I am… my poor wife listens to me sing a
song over and over… She says, sweetheart that was really good. I am thinking
(after 27 times doing it) what is she talking about, it’s horrible!
I heard a guy say onetime, ‘‘practice does not make
perfect, perfect practice makes perfect“.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like
Answer: Unfortunaely as a writer, you never really
get away from work. You always are wondering when you go on holiday and you see
a beautiful mountain, Church building, two people in love at a cafe about a
song coming from that moment. However, I like to golf, ride our bikes, eat at
great resteurants. I like a really good glass of wine sitting by a great fire!
Lamitschka: Is there anything in your life that you
would change if you could?
Answer: I feel I could be a better person. I try and treat
eveyone I meet with great respect. However, I wonder if I do enough to help my
fellow brother or sister in life.
Lamitschka: What hopes and desires do you have?
Answer: My hopes and desires musically is that what
we do, last a lifetime just not a season.
Lamitschka: When you’re on tour, do you have time to
Answer: Very seldom. Normally we come in early in
the morning (sleeping on a tour bus or hotel) then go over our schedule,
rehearse, eat an early dinner, soundcheck and do the show then get back on the
tour bus and the next day, repeat!
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your
Answer: Thank you for your love of traditional
music. Bluegrass or country. European people are some of the nicest people in
the world. Their appreciation for music is extremley sincere.
Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de ) for
Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show