24 May 2006

My friend in Kansas fulfilled her mission of finding 15,000 words for me to cut from the manuscript. I’m using her advice to combine chapters and condense, condense, condense. This is now my fourth draft of the book, and I’ll be spending the next several weeks on the rewrite.

FARON YOUNG, FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AGO: Faron graduated from Fair Park High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 25, 1951, at age 19. He ranked number 236 in a class of 244. It took him five years to get through high school because he dropped out in the tenth grade and had to make up the year. He participated in choir, boys’ glee club, ROTC, and football in the earlier years, but he devoted his senior year to playing music. From what I’ve pieced together, he was frontman for Webb Pierce and the Southern Valley Boys at that time.

INTERVIEW: Who could I write about this week but Billy Walker? When I first saw the subject line in my e-mail in-box about a tragic accident, I thought it would be a history piece about him giving up his seat on the flight that killed Patsy Cline. Instead, it was the story of the car crash that killed Billy, his wife Bettie, and two band members on Sunday. I’ve always liked Billy Walker’s singing, especially “Charlie’s Shoes” and “Across the Brazos.” I met Billy backstage on the Grand Ole Opry when Ed Gregory introduced him to my sister and me. We have a nice photo of that meeting. I later called him for a telephone interview, and I recently received his written permission to quote him in my book. Billy mentioned several incidents when Faron helped people who didn’t have any money. He called Faron “a real philanthropist–when he wasn’t drinkin’. When he was drinkin’, he was meaner than a little snake. But when he wasn’t, he had a great personality.” Billy told me he first met Faron when they did shows together in 1952, and he credited Faron with making a recommendation to get him on the Opry several years later.

Jo Hamrick sends this note from West Virginia: “I just had to write once more to say . . . if you knew Faron.you had to know both sides to him. There has never and never will be another Faron Young. He said what he felt and if he liked you he would go the length for you if you needed him. If he did not like you it would not take long to find out. But the real disappointment is, when he was living and out there really entertaining, in a lot of people’s eyes, he was everything bad. . . . The only other person I can think of that has had the same thing happen but is still here is Tanya Tucker. She was a hell raiser but one of the best. Now you hear nothing about her. Faron knew he was loved. I have just recently been able to listen to his music, even though we have tons of it, without crying. He was our friend.”

Tom Lipscombe says, “I really enjoyed reading about ‘Hello Walls’, one of my all-time favorite songs. Faron does a real smooth job on that song.”

Ferron Young writes, “I’m so glad your book on Faron is going to be published…. I have been reading your newsletter every week and it’s great.”

Wayne L Kepner says, “Congrats Diane on finally getting the go ahead on getting the book published. I can’t wait to get my copy.”

Debra in the UK says, “That’s so great about getting a publishing date. I can’t wait to read it.”

Dianne Patrick, President of the Elvis’ Angels Fan Club in Shreveport, Louisiana, sends a note to say, “I have been printing all of your newsletters out and keeping them in a folder. Are you close to releasing the hard back book yet? These newsletters are great reading. Keep up the good work!”

Response: I don’t have a publication date, but the standard is a year after submission of the final manuscript. My contract calls for the manuscript to be in by the end of June, so I’m guessing midsummer 2007 for publication.

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