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Guest Blog by Charlie Daniels; Memories of a Friend

Memories of a Friend

by Charlie Daniels

I have the greatest respect for talented people who can take nothing and make something out of it. Such is the case of the songwriter. He pulls thoughts out of thin air and molds them into a song that never existed before. And when that same songwriter is capable of coming up with a great melody it’s an even bigger accomplishment.

But when that same person writes the lyrics, composes the music and then interprets it on a musical instrument, that person is something special.   

Such a man was my friend Toy Caldwell. He came with his own melodies and wrote down to earth, straight ahead, beans and cornbread type lyrics that us common folk can identify.

“Can’t you see what that woman’s been doing to me.”

“Heard it in a love song, can’t be wrong.”

“Cause I’m searching for a rainbow
And if the wind ever told me where to go
You’ll be waiting at the end and I know
I’ll say to hell with that pot of gold.”

Pure down home poetry from the heart of a country boy.

In the early seventies the hottest bunch of pickers in the country was the Marshall Tucker Band. I know because we traveled with them and opened for them night after night after night. I marveled at just how incredibly hot this band could play.
There were a lot of unique things about the Tucker band. For one thing, Jerry Eubanks’ flute put a whole different spin on a guitar heavy sound, topping it off and riding just above the controlled chaos that was the Tucker sound.

Tommy Caldwell’s thumb picked bass and Paul Riddle’s drums laid down a beat and a bottom that was just pure T fun to jam with.

I don’t think the world understands what a big part of The Marshall Tucker Band sound should be attributed to the wild rhythm guitar playing of George McCorkle. George took no prisoners and let it all hang out with a ringing open string bang slam rhythm that pushed the song along and held all the parts together.

And up in front, sweating and straining Toy Caldwell, with his guitar turned up to ten and the speakers in his amp pushed to the limit with every note, playing what only he could play.

To say Toy was unique is a gross understatement. He played his own style and his own riffs and you could have listened to him alongside fifty other guitar players and have no trouble picking him out. He was just that different.

I can still see Toy now, standing onstage next to Tommy, with his eyes closed and that thumb fanning the strings of his Gibson and the most incredible sound coming out, sounds that could turn a crowd of people upside down.

So I pay tribute to my dear friend Toy Caldwell. To the music he left us, to the guitar standards he set, and to the all too short life he lived.

I miss you buddy.

God bless.
Charlie Daniels

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