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Million Mile Reflections

He's still got long hair but this country boy has cleaned up his act.

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Catapulted into widespread fame with "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," which won a Grammy in 1979, Daniels has been touring ever since, picking up Grammy and Country Music Association awards along the way. Nowadays his music occasionally takes a back seat to his writing and his faith.

Daniels began posting "soapbox essays" on his Web site several years ago, and strong response to his "take no prisoners" style led to a book, "Ain't No Rag: Freedom, Family, and the Flag." Still "sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot" after all these years, the 67-year-old Daniels will perform at Innsbrook After Hours on July 14.



Style: Is writing a core part of your identity?

Daniels: It has become that way. Now I'm writing essays twice a week, on everything from current events to shopping with my wife — which I put at two counts above a root canal. I'm not much of a shopper!



Do you have a special place where you like to write?

No, just wherever. I've got four computers - one on each floor of my house and one on the tour bus. They're like my guitars. I like to have 'em nearby for when inspiration strikes.



What writers do you admire?

I'm a big Louis L'Amour fan. I read mostly fiction, blood and guts stuff, like Graham Green, Ken Follett, and Robert Ludlum. I read the Bible. I'm a voracious reader.



How does your Christian faith fit into your life?

It fits into every aspect of my life. Everything I do is strained through my Christianity. I've changed the lyrics to some songs because of it. "Long Haired Country Boy," for example, was written at a different time in my life, and now I just don't want to encourage people to do the wrong things.



What do you feel about "an eye for an eye" versus "turn the other cheek"?

Well, actually, eye for an eye is Old Testament, and turn the other cheek is New Testament. Jesus said that. But I don't think that extends to people coming over and blowing up our buildings!



In your visits to our injured troops and sick children and your fundraising are you putting your faith into action?

The Bible says "to whom much is given, of him much is required." I don't do a great job of that, but I try. I think we all ought to do the very best we can. But salvation is not based on works. Salvation is a gift from God.



In your book "Ain't No Rag," you rail against the left, so people might assume you're a Republican. But you were a big supporter of Jimmy Carter.

I'm neither Republican nor Democrat. I vote for the man, for the person. Party means nothing to me.



Who are your heroes, musical and otherwise?

I have so many musical heroes. And that's reflected in our music, because we play it all. One just died — Ray Charles. Then there's Bill Monroe, Elvis Presley, the Allman Brothers, and B.B. King, to name just a few. Of course, my real-life hero is Jesus Christ. S

The Charlie Daniels Band performs at the Innsbrook Pavilion in Glen Allen, Wednesday July 14 at 6 p.m. Tickets $10 at innsbrookafterhours.com, Plan 9 or 794-6700.



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