Thanks for the story about Burning Love,
New York Times
September 25, 2005
Signposts for a Songwriter By PHIL SWEETLAND
Dennis Linde has been a remarkably successful songwriter for a remarkably long time, from Elvis Presley's "Burning Love" in 1972 to Alan Jackson's current witty hit, "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues." Between those two came "Goodbye Earl," an infamous success for the Dixie Chicks in 1999 that was a dark-humored masterpiece about spousal abuse.
Locations in these songs and many others - from the water tower in "John Deere Green," the 1994 country hit for Joe Diffie, to the spot where Earl breathed his last - are depicted on a map Mr. Linde made that hangs in his home. It's an unusual way to chart one's creative output, but Mr. Linde (pronounced LIN-dee) says it's strictly practical: "I had to have it to keep up with the people in my songs," he explains. Phil Sweetland spoke with Mr. Linde, who lives in the Nashville suburbs with his wife, Pam, about the topography of his long career.
Were you from a musical family?
I was born in 1943 in Abilene, Tex. Nobody in my family was a professional musician, but my grandfather listened to "race" records, my grandmother played classical music and she knew the Broadway show tunes, and my mom sang. Just everybody sang. I didn't even start in music till I was 15, but I had a feeling I could play guitar. When rock 'n' roll came around, I thought, this was cool. My dad was a salesman for Colgate, so by then we moved first to Miami and then outside St. Louis, so I grew up there in a musical town. I was listening to the rock 'n' roll on the St. Louis stations, and the great R&B and blues on the East St. Louis stations. In every one of the bands I worked in, we played both the pop stuff and R&B.
How long were you playing and writing music in St. Louis?
I lived there from 1956 to 1969. I didn't go into the Army, but I went into the Missouri Air National Guard, because they were ready to draft me. At that time, I didn't know anything about dying, but here were my priorities: I said, "If I'm drafted, I'll be out of the band for two years." The group was called the Starlighters. I was working nights as a musician and driving a dry-cleaning delivery truck days, but they pulled my license for speeding. So I practiced guitar as long as I could in the daytime, worked out arrangements and started writing songs to fill in the time.
Bob Beckham signed you at Combine Music, where Kris Kristofferson and Wanda Jackson also had writing deals. What was it like in Nashville when you moved there in 1969?
Bob Beckham's building at Combine was a rickety old two-story place, and Kris lived in an upstairs room next door. I just had never run into so many talented people. One morning, Kris, Mickey Newberry and Chris Gantry were all in the coffee room. They had those 1970's coffee cup deals where the cup was a paper cone inside a brown plastic frame. I was hanging around and poured myself a big old cup of coffee, but the paper wasn't inside the frame and I poured it right down on my boots. That really broke the ice.
Where did your sense of humor come from? It shows up in nearly all your songs.
I must have carried that out of Texas. I was 11 or 12 when I left there, and in Texas, storytelling was always popular. So were nice big lies and tall tales. I always loved Mark Twain, that kind of writing. I was fascinated with "Huck Finn": That story had everything involved in it - the whole American experience. It had slavery, phonies, the King and the Duke. No matter how phony it was, Huck Finn always had little comments to make.
What do you remember about "Burning Love"?
I wrote that song on a lark. I had bought a set of drums and was learning to play them, and that same afternoon I had to put something down on tape. So I recorded a drum track and put a melody out there with it. I was a newlywed, and "Burning Love" was a great newlywed title. I had it done in 20 minutes. I cut the song first, then Arthur Alexander did it as an album cut. Contrary to popular belief, Elvis loved it at first. Later on, he didn't.
The Sun Never Sets On A Legend...
Thanks for the story about Burning Love,
I dream a world where man no other man
will scorn. Where LOVE will bless the earth
and peace its paths adorn...
"Contrary to popular belief, Elvis loved (Burning Love) at first. Later on, he didn't."
Things that make you go .
...you won't forget me when I go.