What do Elvis, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Quincy Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Engelbert Humperdinck, Ferlin Husky, Connie Smith and a few score of other artists have in common? They’ve all recorded songs by mega-hit songwriter, Dallas Frazier. With over 300 cuts to his credit, Dallas is still writing and still getting cuts worldwide. The following is taken from a one on one interview with Dallas in Nashville on January 13th, 2012. Meet Dallas Frazier:
Bronson: How old were you when you wrote your first song?
Dallas: I was 11 years old. I was living close to Bakersfield, Calif., and I was about 11 years old when I started writing songs.
Bronson: When you write, what comes to you first? The melody, or the lyric?
Dallas: Well, it’s kind of a combination of things. Sometimes you’ll get a hook, you know, just a great thought, and then you’ll start working on it from there and adding a melody as you go along and all. And then sometimes I’ve had just great melodies come to me and I had to put words to them.
Bronson: Do you find that the good ones just flow out, or do you have to work on them awhile?
Dallas: You know, Bronson, it seems like to me the best ones have come real quick. You didn’t have to just manufacture them, so to speak. But when you’re a songwriter, eventually you learn how to do it whether you’re up to it or not, or whether you’re inspired or not. You know what I’m saying? It’s your craft, and you go to work and you do it, but it sure is a lot easier when it just falls out of the sky on you.
Bronson: Who was the person who first heard your songs and said you were a good writer?
Dallas: My first experience in professional music was with Ferlin Husky. He was working an old dance hall called the Rainbow Gardens close to where I lived, and I heard on the radio he was having a talent contest. I entered the contest and I won it, and he offered me a job that night. I was 12.
Bronson: What was your first cut?
Dallas: Some of my first songs, the very first songs I got recorded, were songs that I wrote myself. I signed with Capitol Records when I was 14 years old, and I wrote the material. One song was called, “Ain’t You Had No Bringin’ Up a’Tall.” I wrote that when I was about 13 years old.
Bronson: What brought you to Nashville?
Dallas: I was living in Portland, Ore., and Ferlin Husky came through on a tour. I had kind of gotten out of the business and all, but I heard about Ferlin and I went to see him and he said, “Dallas, what are you doing?” and I said, “Well, not a whole lot,” and he said, “Well, why don’t you come back to Nashville and write songs for me?” I said, “Okay, I will.” (Laughing) Just like that and just like the snap of a finger, I made the decision. So my wife and I and two of our little girls, we came to Nashville on an old train and got off down here at Union Station, and boy it was a different time then and a different place. This would be the fall of 1963.
Bronson: Were you pitching your own songs?
Dallas: Ferlin had some people that were managing his publishing company. One of the guys pitched a song to Jack Greene and he held it for a long, long time and he finally cut the song, “There Goes My Everything.” Now I wrote “There Goes My Everything” when I first got to town, that winter of ’63 and ’64. That was one of those songs that just came, you know, it just came. I wrote it about Ferlin really. It was part of his life story and his experience. He was getting a divorce, and that gave me the inspiration to write the song.
Bronson: Do you do much co-writing?
Dallas: I did quite a bit of co-writing, yes. I wrote a lot of things with Doodle Owens, and quite a few things with Whitey Shaefer, and several others. Larry Lee, I did a couple of things with Larry. “14 Karat Mind” was one that we did with Larry, and what a great record Gene Watson got on that.
You can read/listen to this entire interview at www.bronsonsmusic.com/dallas_frazier.html
by Bronson Herrmuth
(Author of the book “100 Miles To A Record Deal”)