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Life is no snap for Deryl Dodd

By Dan MacIntosh, March 2002

The title track's chorus on Deryl Dodd's third release tells about a woman who loves him for his pearl snaps. Such an attraction may not be as audacious as falling for Kenny Chesney's sexy tractor, but there clearly is an element of working class amorousness at work here.

"They're on the work shirts people wear to weld in," Dodd says, describing these snaps. "They're on Wrangler denims. When I began to play music, these sort of represented the way of life of these people and where I'm from. My father's an electrician, a blue collar type worker. A hard working person."

Similarly, music fans are drawn in by Dodd's workman-like musical values the way his song character is attracted to his duds. He refers to these fans of his as the "Copenhagen Crowd." They are music fans who share his love for artists like George Strait, George Jones and Merle Haggard.

His talents - whether for playing football in high school or an early ability to master anything with strings - have always come naturally to him. With all these gifts, you might assume life has been one easy street for Deryl Dodd.

But all his combined innate skills were not enough quality of life insurance to keep him away from the dangerous curves that seriously threatened his easy life in recent years.

His troubles began soon after the release of "One Ride In Vegas," his debut album. All that attention focused on this shy entertainer was almost too much to handle. Adding to his confusion, he soon found himself going through a divorce, which led to the single "A Bitter End" on his second album.

As problematic as these career and personal roadblocks were for this budding recording artist, they paled in comparison to his next hardship: viral encephalitis.

Symptoms for this inner ear infection included fatigue, the inability to raise his arms above his head and bronchitis. Most detrimental of all, however, was that Dodd lost his pitch control and the prized dexterity he once had for playing the guitar.

For approximately two years, Dodd was out of action. But by the summer of 2000, the doctor had given him a clean bill of health, and he was back in business again.

Dodd no longer takes his talent, or his good health, for that matter, for granted any longer. The songs on his new album, "Pearl Snaps," do not dwell on his recent troublesome circumstances, but instead celebrate life.

"Honky Tonk Champagne" revels in the joys of downing a few cold ones, "On Earth As It Is In Texas" expresses pride in his home state and even though "She'll Have You Back" appears on the surface to be a sad breakup song, Dodd (who co-wrote it) infuses it with lighthearted humor.

"Pearl Snaps" is an album with a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. His very first single, Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got To Memphis," the aforementioned "A Bitter End" and the rodeo inspired "One Ride In Vegas" are all repeated here.

It's both a new beginning and a brief overview of Dodd's career up to now.

"The reason why we put songs that were on previous albums was simply because those songs were proven to be songs out of those two albums that people really loved. And it's been three years since I've made a record, so the label thought, 'Well, why don't we put these songs on the album to remind people what you've done before.' It's not like I've sold two million albums or that I'm a household name. Maybe if a new fan comes along and buys this album and notices those songs are on there will go, 'Wow, that's that guy.' Or if he's never heard them before, he'll say, 'Wow, those are great songs.'"

When he recorded "That's How I Got To Memphis," Dodd learned a fun little fact about his producer.

"I remember going to my producer at the time, Chip Young, who was like father to me in Nashville and was from the older generation, and going to his office and saying, 'Hey, I really like this song and I'd like to record it.' I played a little of it, and I said, 'Have you ever heard it?' He said, 'Yeah, I played on that session with Tom T. Hall back in '67 or '69 or something.'" It reminded me of what a whippersnapper I was."

But he's not too young of a whippersnapper, since he can recall the '70s hey day of AM radio and some of the standout songs that made the charts back then.

One brand new track on his new album is a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown." Dodd's version retains Lightfoot's vibe-y guitar accompaniment, but it also adds a big dose of Glen Duncan's country fiddle to the mix.

"I think all of Gordon Lightfoot's songs left you with a haunting kind of feeling," Dodd says. "I heard that song on a classic rock station before I made the album, and it just seems that song was never heard enough. I could never hear it enough. I went home and bought an album of (Lightfoot's) greatest hits, and I learned it. I just put my style on it; there is more steel guitar, as opposed to electric guitars on it."

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