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The First Time Phil Vassar Heard Himself on the Radio, He Thought It Was a Dream

Phil Vassar birthday
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Phil Vassar has enjoyed a prolific career in country music, both as a songwriter and artist. Vassar’s songs have been recorded by some of Nashville’s biggest stars (Tim McGrawJo Dee Messina and Alan Jackson, just to name a few), and he’s also earned his share of country hits as an artist: “Carlene,” “Just Another Day in Paradise” and ‘Love Is a Beautiful Thing,” among others. Below, Vassar recalls the first times he heard one of his songs on the radio, first as the tunesmith and then as the singer.

I was in Nashville on my way to the studio to do a demo session for a song. I was going down the street, and I heard this song come on the radio, and I went, “Wait a minute! I know this! Oh, it’s my song!” It’s was a group called Blackhawk, and they cut one of my songs, “Postmarked Birmingham.”

It was cool. I stopped the car and relished in the moment. It was very surreal.

The first time I ever heard myself on the radio as an artist, I was doing a show in my hometown, in Lynchburg, [Va.], and it was a morning radio visit. It was still dark — probably 5:30 in the morning — and the radio alarm came on, and it was my song, so I thought I was dreaming. That was weird, but that was the first time I ever heard myself. The song was “Carlene;” I woke up and just sat on the side of the bed going, “This is bizarre isn’t it?”

You never know how to prepare yourself for something like that until it actually happens. It was exciting! I smiled all day, and you smile even more as they go up the charts. [Laughs]

This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.

NEXT: Steel Magnolia’s First Airplay Prompted a Midnight Dance Party

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