Play your heart out – whether every seat is filled or several seats are empty – has always been a rule of thumb for Charlie Daniels.
“When you’re a young musician, you’re going to have empty seats in the house,” he said. “… If you go in and have a half-house and say ‘I have a half-house; I’m going to cut the set short; I’m just not going to really try very hard,’ you’re really messing up. That’s not the way you do it. That’s not the way you build a following of people. If you do good, no matter how many people are in the house, and you do good, if you entertain them, when you come back they’ll probably come see you again and they’ll probably bring somebody that time, and that’s how you go about building a following. So never look at the empty seats; act like they’re all full and go for it every night.”
The practice worked for Daniels, who is an inductee of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. It also inspired the title of Daniels’ new memoir, “Never Look at the Empty Seats,” released in October.
“It’s an old adage in a new way,” Daniels said. “It’s, you know, half-empty glass, half-full glass. Accentuate the positive sort of a thing. It’s capitalize on what you’ve got. If you can’t get what you want, take what you can get and make what you want out of it. It’s just that type of thing.”
The memoir, which was more than 20 years in the making, begins with Daniels’ earliest remembrances through the night he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The album “Memories, Memoirs and Miles,” released in collaboration with the memoir, features “Jaguar,” the first record Daniels ever made.
The memoir is not Daniels’ farewell. He is working on a new album of all-new recordings, continues to tour continuously and has no plans of slowing down.
“I’m still trying accomplish every show sold-out and every album platinum,” he said. “That’s the goal. I am actively involved in my career. I’m not on a farewell tour. I’m not a nostalgia tour. I’m constantly creating new music, playing new music and doing new things. So this is not just something I’m figuring on doing and not trying to keep up with keeping my playing chops in good shape or anything or just trying to get by. This is an ongoing thing with me. It’s not something that I’m looking to try to do and milk as much out of it as I can and then quit it. It is something that I am very much involved in, and I intend to be doing as long as the good Lord gives me the health to do it.”