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What To Do When Your Grandfather is a World Famous Songwriter

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2023 3:03 am

What To Do When Your Grandfather is a World Famous Songwriter

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 8, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Albert Brumley wrote classic hymns like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Turn Your Radio On,” but he left behind much more. His son Bob carried the legacy – and Bob’s daughters did the same. Here is the Brumley family story.

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Send them to Up next, a story from Betsy and Elaine Brumley on their father, Bob. Bob Brumley inherited a lot from his father, Albert.

Not only was Albert one of the most impactful songwriters in American history, writing songs such as I'll Fly Away and Turn Your Radio On, but he also had a major music publishing company in Powell, Missouri. Here's the sisters talking about how Bob handled that and went about living life. He was born in December of 1937, so January of 1938, he was in the business. It was pretty much like that.

We did the same thing. I mean, once the kids were born, and we even have photos that have recently been posted in the late 50s, early 60s of the brothers before they went their separate ways, all working together, putting the books together. I mean, that's just part of your family business. It supported you, it brought income, and it's what you did. But that's how Dad, he was always a part of the business. Dad never left. Dad was really very passionate about continuing the legacy for what Grandpa brought to the world.

Bringing awareness, sharing it with people, selling books, performing. I mean, Dad had his own. They all did the business, but they all sang, too. Now, I'm sure you know this story, Betsy, but one of my favorite stories of their singing was, as a group, all the kids, when the boys were older, they would travel together in this car with barely any gas in it, barely any money, and they would stop at a general store somewhere when they got closer to whatever Coon Hunt or Fox Hunt or Piceper or whatever event they were going to go play at and pick up some ring bologna and some saltine crackers and some coke. They ate on that for days because they didn't leave and then come back like we do now. They left for a while because it was a thing to drive.

You probably needed to get paid to afford gas sometimes when you were going around. That's just how they ate, plus they liked it. Well, Dad used to have to sit on the floor underneath his base.

Yeah, that's true. Dad played the upright bass, so his place in the car was in the floorboard of the backseat under his base. That's how he rode. For a frame of reference, what I think about is when, on Andy Griffith with Johnny Fleet, the beat or whatever comes through in that long, big old bus-like Cadillac car, that's totally what they did. I mean, they all piled in there with their instruments and just did it. I mean, so you've got a couple guitars, you've got the big old bass, you've got the steel guitar, Jack's mandolin and stuff. I mean, so there's a lot of instruments in there, plus their clothes, their outfits or uniforms, whatever they call them, stage clothes, and then their regular clothes.

So, I mean, if you think about all the space that takes up, that's a lot. They all played instruments because Grandpa gave them instruments when they were around eight or nine years old to start learning. And Dad was a guitar and the upright bass and the piano. And he kept being able to play those his entire life. They didn't take the piano back then, but they did take the bass and the guitars and stuff with them. And that was part of being in the business, too, because that was Grandpa's background.

You traveled around, you sang your music, you let people hear it, took books with you to sell, you know. And that was how he was introduced and participated in the business. And then his brothers left.

Some of them went to the service, but in the 60s with something called the Bakersfield Sound that was being developed. And they wanted to be a part of that. And so Tom and Al and Dad's younger brother, Jack, they just picked up and moved. Well, Dad decided to stay to keep the business going because they really didn't have anybody working for him that did the things the boys did. So he and Bill stayed.

So that was what happened where Dad just made that choice to stay. But he also loved to perform because he had his own band. He had not with just his family and brothers, but his own that he toured around with.

I can remember when I was a little specific fox hunt in Stella, which is where my mom grew up. But this was after they met and married. And then he played on the stage and we'd go do the hangout thing and then he'd pack up and we'd come home. And so he was always part of the music, whether it was behind the scenes like what we do mostly now or on the stage. And he had a great voice. He was really good with his pitch. I mean, he was really good until he was gone.

He could sing really well. And then in 1976, Bill and Dad bought the publishing company from Grandpa. Grandpa was ready to retire because he was in his 70s, so they bought the company.

And then Dad purchased Bill out in 1983 and then it's been, we've run it ever since. So Dad just is always, like Elaine said, always had a love for the music and the industry side. But having a passion for the publishing is different than having a passion for the music because publishing is such a unique animal. And there's like five people in the world that understand publishing and copyright. Right, and thank goodness we're one of them. Which is part of the reason we've lasted so long because we actually do understand the business. We know how it works because we've been around since it was invented basically. So yeah, Dad learned those things and kept our business relevant. So understanding, seeing the trends, keeping it up, keeping his finger on the pulse with the old stuff too. Because understanding that the nostalgia, you know, that the ages as we age, our tastes change knowing that the older generation as they come into being, the baby boomers or whatever they're called, are going to be looking for those old songs that they grew up with.

Well, we have those. And then that's going to be passed on. There's always, it's always going to be there, so we've always kept the books. But we had the singings and we upgraded to different things, you know, and just got involved in movies and television and streaming and all the stuff. But his main goal was keep that legacy alive to make sure that people, because as time passes and generations come anew, the name is not associated with the music anymore. And that's part of the thing that we're trying to do is bring him to people's minds and what he contributed.

At least in my mind, that's what I think about. And making sure that they know the song that was in O Brother O'er Thou that sold millions of copies was done by this amazing human being a long time ago. And people still love to hear what he had to say from then. And Dad really was big on that.

She really wanted to do that too. And you're listening to Betsy and Elaine Brumley tell the story of their father, Bob. And by the way, they told a brilliant story of their granddaddy, Albert, the composer of I'll Fly Away and Turn Your Radio On and so many others. When we come back, more of this remarkable family and musical story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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Get yours at Wal-Mart today. And we return to our American stories and the story of Bob Brumley is told by his daughters, Betsy and Elaine. When we last left off, the sisters were talking about their father's mission to preserve and honor the legacy of his father, Albert E. Brumley, who was a composer and music book publisher.

Let's continue with this great family story. Part of the book part and the printing and all that stuff was they were raw books, which they had raw edges. And there was something called a book press and something called a book cutter. Well, Dad was ended up being the champion book cutter. And he developed this amazing muscle that rode right across the top of his elbow that not many people develop. And he was really strong hands because you put the books in.

You'd smush them back. You cut the edges, turn and cut them. You had to cut three of the edges off and we would play in the pilings of the paper like they were leaves, like fall leaves. How did we get paper cuts?

I don't I was just thinking that I don't know. Maybe we did, but it was just it was fun. He had his own way of looking at things just like grandpa did. And it wasn't exactly like grandpa's. It was a little bit different. It was different.

Yeah. Dad's favorite stuff, though. I mean, Dad, it was Christmas time. Dad was like a five year old at Christmas time. The magic of Christmas always touched him.

And we had some amazing stories from our childhood with Christmas. You know, he left footprints for you guys, right? Yeah, Santa Claus footprints on the powder.

Yeah. He put lights up. I mean, the man put so many lights up. It wasn't like it wasn't Christmas vacation lights, but but he loved lights. He loved all of all the stuff that came with Christmas. And we always had stockings and we always had a toy.

And we would have the same candy. So, Mom and Dad, we had Christmas. This is every year. Every year. It was literally the same game, literally the same candy.

You know, you get growing up because there's part there's German parts. You get an orange, an apple and candy in your stocking at Christmas time. Well, they got it got to because we never ate it because it was gross candy, but they had to put it in there.

So literally, they would put the candy in plastic and just drop it in our socks, the same candy every single year. Because it stuck together. Because it was above the fireplace. It melted and it stuck together. Because we never ate it.

Even when we were little, we never ate it. But that's one thing about him and I think Grandpa as well and my mom and grandma. There was a lot of traditions like that. Because it didn't matter what it was. It was a matter that it was year by year. I mean, he really liked following certain traditions like that.

It meant nostalgic. It meant something to him to do those kinds of things every year. And it didn't matter if the candy stuck together or not or we ate the orange or the apple because we didn't eat those either.

No, we didn't. And, you know, we just got the stocking present. But those kinds of things, he did that with a lot of aspects of his life, you know. And literally, as we got older and he got older, if you lived in Powell, you could set your watch by Dad. And I mean that because every single day at 1130, he went to get the mail.

It doesn't matter where. He went to get the mail. And, I mean, people wouldn't, they knew what his schedule was.

I mean, people would know. And if Dad wasn't getting the mail or whatever, people would call and say, Is Bob okay? Because he wasn't there to get the mail. Tradition, his routine, everything was very precise and scheduled for him. He did have a fabulous sense of humor that was very corny. And I guess we even used that in his habitual work because it was part of his personality. And it's how he connected with people. He would tell you this corny joke and you'd roll your eyes, but you find yourself telling it 10 minutes later. Because it's so funny.

It's kind of funny and silly. And that was, that's how I remember a lot about him. And he never meant to be, he was never disrespectful, but he told them it all the weird times.

You know, at visitations for funerals or at a funeral or some serious event. Some serious event. He would come up with this corny joke that he remembered. And it's relevant somehow. And somehow it connected to the situation you were in. He was, I remember, he's really smart. That's what I really have a great memory of is how smart Dad was. His brain, he was a very internal person. But he had a way and a perspective of viewing things.

Now it took him 15 minutes to get there, but once he got there, it made a lot of sense. And you ask how I'd want him to be remembered. You know, I just wanted him to be remembered as Dad, as Bob.

Yeah. He really cared about everything he did. Dad, you know, he never met a stranger. And he was like Grandma Bremerly like this. If he met you once, he remembered your name. He remembered what your kids' names were. He remembered what illnesses you had. I mean, the man remembered everything about you. But everything about him was authentic. Dad didn't even know how to put on airs. If he tried, he wouldn't know how to put on airs.

And it was an old saying, you never get above your raisin or whatever. He never did. He never forgot where he came from. He felt that he earned everything. And I think he absolutely earned everything he did. And just that passion he had for that legacy. I mean, it was the drive behind his business life. And he made sure that it was in a place of honor.

People in the industry recognized that. So he was recognized for respecting the Southern gospel roots, the gospel roots. When a lot of people tend to push them aside, he kept them alive. And a lot of people in the industry and in the music industry really respected him for that. So he had his own accomplishments like that. A lot of it we talk about because Grandpa's legacy was so big. But when you live in the shadow of someone with a name like Albert E. Brumley and his works are considered part of the fabric of America, it's hard to have your own because you do find yourself preserving. We're still living in Grandpa's shadow, if you will.

But we're making our own way. Dad did his. And he had his own set of awards and accomplishments that he achieved after Grandpa passed and he bought the business.

To me, this is a thing that always meant something to me. One thing that Dad always made sure of because of the respect he had for the industry was to make sure he paid his people. If you know the industry, that didn't always happen in events and things like that. It was a tough business. Music can be tough.

If you're in it at all, you probably understand that. But he always made sure to respect the people he brought on, whether they were talent or we paid a tribute every year to the volunteers that helped at our events with this delicious food. Because food is fun and it was something they could all gather in and appreciate. He appreciated what the people contributed to his whatever it was. But he also respected the fans. And he appreciated the fans.

Absolutely. One of my favorite stories is when one of the groups wanted to leave early from the singing one year. And he pulled them over from backstage and pulled the curtain back. And he said, you see all those people out there? And he said, yeah. He said, now I can't do without them.

You? I can do without. If you want to leave, you're not going to get paid. And you're not coming back because you're disrespecting these fans who came to see you and paid to see you.

But if you want to stay, I'll be happy to pay you. And that's exactly what they did, because because Dad understood the relationship of these are hardworking people. These are your fans who have who have take their hard earned money and paid a ticket to see you perform. And if you are going to disrespect them by not thinking they're worthy or whatever your problem is, then I'm not having you back. Because this is an equal respect back and forth between between the artist and the fan. And then also as the promoter, the person who we all respect each other. Everybody adds something. Nobody's better than anybody else.

I love that about Danny. Is it always everybody had a place and everybody had a job. You did your job. You got paid for your job unless you were volunteered, which you still got paid for because man, we took care of everything. And you know, that's what you did.

So you're exactly right. That's that was a very big factor of Dad's personality that I really always greatly appreciated. And I carry that with me now and very aware and very particular that when I do something with people, I treat them with that same respect to the best of my ability in the situation.

So that to me was pretty cool about him because it was that way in everything. And a great job, as always, by Monty Montgomery on the production and the storytelling. And a special thanks to Betsy and Elaine Brumley sharing the story of their father, Bob. This time last time it was a granddaddy, Albert. And my goodness, if you can have two daughters tell the story of your life as a mother or a father.

Well, blessed are you and lucky are you. The story of the Brumley family and this time Bob Brumley as told by his daughters, Betsy and Elaine here on Our American Stories. Whether you're searching for the latest sneaker drop, that iconic handbag, a timeless watch or your next piece of classic jewelry. eBay authenticators are there verifying every detail of your purchase with the years of experience. They're making sure the piece you're searching for is worthy of your collection. eBay's authenticators are experts in their craft, true connoisseurs. And as leaders in their fields, they're making sure your items always arrive as authentic as your style in a world full of fakes. It's time to get real with eBay Authenticity Guarantee. Everyone deserves real.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 04:34:51 / 2023-05-08 04:44:28 / 10

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