The Singer.....
The Farmer.....

from Country Song Roundup,
September 1977
by Judy Hedy

Have you ever been on a firing range and heard the rapid shots from a dozen pistols all being fired at the some time? I have to admit I haven't, but two to one, Skeeter Davis can talk faster than those guns can be fired. She's fascinating to listen to, a crazy mixed-up blend of little girl, impulsive ideas, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and mature woman. Her career has had its ups and downs, and the leveling­off period seems to be where she's at right now ... and she's happy with her life and herself.

Normal days consist of 24 hours. Not Skeeter's. Somehow or other, she manages to create a 30-hour day, with every minute filled. If she deems something important, she'll make the time to do what needs to be done, speak to someone she loves, or take a minute to show her appreciation.

  Skeeter Davis

I was waiting in the make-up room for Skeeter. She was 5 minutes late, and came bursting in, very apologetic.

"...I shoulda brought you a Coke... I went out there... you know, there was somebody I worked with when I started, the first television program I was on ... a man and his children were on their way to Oklahoma City, and he sent a note backstage, just wanting me to know he was in the audience, and when they say that, that's really special..."

Skeeter DavisShe talked continuously as she kicked off her shoes. Dressed in levis and a sweater, she arranged herself cross-legged on the chair, completely relaxed. Skeeter looks upon a new acquaintance with anticipation and eagerness, feeling she'll benefit by everything that takes place in her life. She had just given two performances, but there was no strained look about her ... just the contrary. She spoke freely about her music, home life on her 100-acre farm, past experiences, and on her present life in general.

Over the years she's received numerous trophies ... a platinum record for one of her best known songs, "End Of The World." In 1976, she signed with Mercury records, and her first single, "I Love Us," climbed high in the charts. Before Mercury, Skeeter had recorded for RCA for better than 20 years.

"After leaving RCA, I thought it might be good to make a new start, start with a new family, like Mercury."

Her close and long-time friend, Chet Atkins, was a confidant in the matter of Skeeter's choosing a new label. He didn't advise her one way or the other, but acted as a 'listening post.' These two artists have a mutual respect for each other.

Pure delight crosses Skeeter's face as she tells about a present she once bought for Chet Atkins.

Skeeter Davis"You just can't ever say enough about Chet; I really love him. I brought him back a little tapestry of the RCA logo from England, and I gave it to him for his birthday ... it was really neat. I don't get Chet a present every year, and he said the nicest thing one time, he said, 'Skeeter, you don't have to get me anything, 'cause I know you love me' ... I thought that was so nice ... but anyway, I was so thrilled, because the tapestry I brought him, he hung over his desk in his office ... and took down whatever he had there before. I was so tickled to get him something he really liked."

Spontaneity is a quality Skeeter Davis possesses. Dottie West walked into make-up, and Skeeter turned and said, "Dottie, don't you love Chet?" To which Dottie replied, "Skeeter, you know we all do!"

With so many of the country artists, music and farming seem to go hand in hand. Up until 3 years ago, Skeeter raised Angus cattle on her farm. Now, her parents live with her, and she smiles as she says, "Now, it's really a farm farm!"

"I feel like we're startin' our lives all over again, 'cause Daddy and my brother raise tobacco (Skeeter pronounces it 'tabaka'), and we're gonna raise corn. 'Course we still got the cattle, but we've got turkeys and chickens and everything else .. it's kinda nice ... this week they killed a hog so we got fresh sausage, and with the chickens, we got fresh eggs ... it beats shopping at Kroger's!"

Some time ago, there was an article about Skeeter that stated she wouldn't raise tobacco.

"The first year I sold my tobacco crop, I went out and bought a doll .. I guess that's somethin' from my childhood. When I was little, if the tobacco crop sold, we had Christmas. If it didn't, we all got a letter from Santy Claus ... you know, he was sorry, but ... Since then, since my brother's come, we do have tobacco. Every three years you have to either raise it or lease it, so I thought, Why do I let somebody else do this?, and like my father, who I respect as my earthly father, gave me some words of wisdom. He said, 'Skeeter, you can't worry about all these things. I've got an apple orchard, and they make wine from apples and whiskey from corn.' In other words, we couldn't have anything on that farm!

Skeeter Davis with Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter

"So we all learn and grow as we go along, but I told Daddy this year, 'Daddy, how in the world am I gonna pray for that tobacco crop, when I don't even like tobacco?' And he said, 'On your knees...' See, I don't think it's a sin to smoke cigarettes or a pipe. I think that deals on an individual level ... what's right for you ... and I'm glad that I don't smoke or drink because I feel that I'm more effective as a Christian in the work that I do.

"It's really bad, though, because I'm just not a very good business person. The other day I was out there when we were gonna sell some steers and my bull, and I told Daddy, 'Daddy, I just hate this part...' And he said to me, 'Well, if you hate it, get rid of it.' And I said, 'No, it's just like pickin'; I love to sing my songs, I just don't like the business part.' I'm just not smart in that area. But we took them to be sold, and I was prayin' my bull wouldn't get sold for slaughter, and sure enough, they bought him for a farm. Every so often, you have to change your bull, too. How do you like all this farm talk?! I can't tell you what's number one on the charts, but I can tell you what cattle's bringin'!,

"And we're sellin' some pigs ... we named 'em Conway and Loretta ... one's named Wilma ... They all got these names, you know. I was kiddin' everybody, tellin' 'em I didn't give Loretta 'The Pill' 'cause I wanted all the pigs I could get! Anyway, everything was goin' just fine at the sale until I saw Wilma, and I said to Daddy, 'Oh ... there's Wilma!' And every farmer turned around and looked at me so funny. Daddy said, 'Either get them tears oughta your eyes, or get outside ... ain't nobody gonna buy your stuff!' So it's all been really an experience, and a lot of fun."

Not straying too far from farming, Skeeter tosses her long blond hair back as she laughs about an incident that occurred at her church, The Lord's Chapel.

"I'll tell you what ... Jeannie C. Riley came in one night and it was really funny. She says, 'I know I smell like my horses, 'cause I've been ridin' 'em all day!' It was really funny, 'cause she still had on her ridin' britches, and she did smell like a horse ... we all told her that she did ... it was fun ... you can go just so far, however though. There again, if people would start lookin' at people the way the Lord does, we might see a different side."

Skeeter has grown and matured to the point where she's comfortable in finding humor in herself, others, and even in her faith. When her first single for Mercury was released, "I Love Us," it took off well, and then began to fall suddenly.

She says, "It took us all kinda by surprise. 'Course when it first came out, I said, 'I'm givin' my record to the Lord. Whatever happens, I'll accept it.' And then Loretta came out with 'Somebody Somewhere.' I called Linda, my secretary, and I said, 'That's the best record she's had out since I don't know when, and every girl I know is gonna have the best record in their careers now!' I was laughin' and I told Linda I wasn't gonna worry about it, because I gave my record to the Lord, and Linda said, 'Well, hate to tell you this, Skeeter, but you gave your record to the Lord before He heard Loretta's ... I think He likes hers best!' She gives me a hard time ... but kinda keeps my feet on the ground."

I made a promise to Skeeter when we talked. She told me of her love of dolls, and that each Christmas she still gets a beautiful new doll. She seemed a little embarrassed about this, so I told her that at Easter, somebody better hide a basket for me, or there's gonna be trouble.

Skeeter said' "Oh, will you please print this? Now, all my friends in town won't think that I'm the only loony!"

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