“It’s a bright spot for me,” Charley Sandage said about a song he wrote being recorded recently on the album The Story We Tell by the bluegrass band Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers.
Charley wrote the song “Neighbors” for the Simmons family in 1973 and gave them the song. The song was written with the Mountain View music community and the community in general in mind after Charley moved to Mountain View in the early 1970s while he was on staff at the Ozark Folk Center.
While Charley has written numerous songs through the years, he said “Neighbors” has definitely gone further than any of his songs and has become part of the local repertoire.
Grandpa Jones recorded the song and took the publishing rights, while Charley and Tommy Simmons received the song writers rights. Having given the Simmons family the song, Charley wasn’t entitled to any rights, but the family chose to include him.
Though Grandpa Jones didn’t sell a massive amount of records, he made a lot of appearances where he sang the song, including singing it a couple times on the Grand Ole Opry, which was nationally broadcasted. Alisa Jones also sang the song during her first appearances on the Hee Haw television show.
The local band Harmony sang the song for a Prairie Home Companion radio show contest called “Talent From Towns Under 2,000.” He said the band did a phone audition, was chosen for the contest, and was flown to New York to be on the show. Locals in Mountain View suggested they sing “Neighbors,” which they did, and were voted second place by the audience of the show. He said there were six acts on the program and it was a “big deal in public radio” at the time.
The song was part of a special moment at a memorial for Jean Simmons Jennings, when musicians and singers were invited to the stage at the Ozark Folk Center to join in performing it. Charley said he was out of state at the time, but he wishes he could have been there.
He said the latest recorded version by Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers is a good gospel bluegrass rendition of the song. The band heard it from Grandpa Jones and decided to put in on their latest album.
Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers is an International Bluegrass Music Association (IMBA) award-winning band who make regular guest appearances at the Grand Old Opry. Their latest album is also on the Billboard’s Top Selling Albums Chart.
Charley said the song has not generated a big income in the past, and he is not expecting a large windfall now. He laughed as he predicted, “I might get a check for $1.37 some day.”
From the April 18, 2018 issue.