Larry Gatlin Gives Nashville Another Chance
Larry Gatlin and his brothers, Steve and Rudy, first began entertaining audiences in Texas churches in the 1950's at just two, four and six years old. In the early '70s, the brothers landed a deal with Monument Records with the help of their friend Kris Kristofferson. What followed was a string of Gatlin Brothers hits including the Grammy-winning 'Broken Lady,' and the No. 1 singles, 'I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,' 'All the Gold in California' and 'Houston.'
By the early '90s, Larry decided it was time to get out of Nashville for a while. He tells The Boot what led to his decision to leave.
"Mark Twain said many years ago, 'It's amazing how stupid my father was when I was 13 and how he smart he'd become by the time I was 21,'" Larry says. "I'm going to fast forward that to: It's amazing how confused I was at 44, and how much wiser I am at 61. What I realize now is no matter what walk of life you're in, your life and your career are a bell curve. It starts down here at the bottom, and it goes up, and then you reach the top, and you're there for a while, and sooner or later that bell curve starts down the other side.
"When I was there in Nashville, I just thought it was going to last forever. And when it started down the other side of that bell curve, I just decided to take my ball and go home. So I left Nashville with some pretty bad feelings. I went home to Texas and decided to do some other things."
Those other things included appearing on Broadway in the 'Will Rogers Follies' and recording as a solo act. Larry confesses that while he was sitting in a bathtub full of hot water in Oklahoma City about a year ago, he had an epiphany.
"I had this revelation from God. And the revelation was, 'Hey, dummy! It's not their fault. Nashville was great to you. Nashville helped your dreams come true.'"
The singer-songwriter credits much of his early success to the support he received from fellow artists such as Dottie West and Johnny Cash. "Nashville afforded me a wonderful way of life. Some friends convinced me that I should come back. We should get another shot, that people in Nashville love our music and love my songwriting and love our harmony."
That "shot" is the unique -- and provocatively-titled -- single, 'Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down,' from the Gatlin Brothers' new album, 'Pilgrimage.'
"I'm really grateful for the years that we've had [away]," says Larry. "because it has given me time to mature, to grow up and to put the whole Nashville deal into perspective and to learn to appreciate what happened there."