Music

Country Rewind: Charlie Daniels' Tribute to Elvis, Janis and Ronnie, 'Reflections'

Charlie Daniels performs in concert in Clarence, N.Y., Friday, Sept. 28, 2007. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

The Charlie Daniels Band's "Reflections," a track from the 1979 album Million Mile Reflections, honors three rock 'n' roll icons lost in the 1970's.

Although the entire CDB (Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, Taz DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward and James W. Marshall) shares songwriting credits, "Reflections" comes across as Daniels' personal tribute to fellow bluegrass lover turned rock tastemaker Janis Joplin plus two sons of the South who passed away in 1977: Elvis Presley and Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie Van Zant.

For the Soapbox column he took over after his father's 2020 passing, Charlie Daniels Jr. described memories of his dad's emotional first attempt at sharing his Van Zant tribute with the masses.

"Dad performed that song live for the first time at Volunteer Jam V - which was also the debut of a little song called 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia'," the younger Daniels wrote. "I remember sitting on one of the road cases watching dad sing that song live. Dad did his best, but he struggled to get through the 'Ronnie my buddy...' and subsequent lyrics. Dad was crying, and at 13 years old, it hit me if dad was that emotional about losing someone, he must have been really close and it must really hurt, then I started crying."

Daniels and his band represented the cutting edge of Southern rock and a more traditional approach to what was happening in Nashville for years to come, so they did Van Zant and other peers proud beyond one touching tribute.

Million Mile Reflections captures the spirit of not just Daniels and his supporting cast but also Southern rock circa 1979 through such selections as "Blue Star," "Passing Lane," "Blind Man," "Jitterbug" and "Mississippi."

"Reflections" Lyrics

I remember you back in nineteen fifty six
You had all the moves
And you knew all the tricks
You left all the ladies in a hell of a fix
When your voice took wings

Then you'd shake around and
Oh, how you'd sing
Just an old boy from Memphis
With a big diamond ring
A country girl's prayer
And a city girl's dream, hail the king

But it's all right now
Keep on singin' loud
It's all right now
Heaven should be proud

The fifties left town on a crowded dance floor
The sixties came in with a bang and a roar
The world heard a knock
It was Janis at the door, they let her in

And when it seemed
This whole world was fallin' apart
The houselights would fall
And the music would start
She'd be givin' us all a piece of her heart
Once again

But it's all right now
Keep on singin' loud
It's all right now
Heaven should be proud

It was October in St. Louis town
When we heard that the Free Bird had fell to the ground
And we all said a prayer
Before we went down to play

And Ronnie, my buddy
Above all the rest
I miss you the most
And I loved you the best
And now that you're gone
I thank God I was blessed,
Just to know you

But it's all right now
Keep on singin' loud
It's all right now
Heaven should be proud

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Country Rewind: Charlie Daniels' Tribute to Elvis, Janis and Ronnie, 'Reflections'