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This country music essay and interview was written by Tim Ghianni.
“Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over.”
That line from the lover’s lament, “For The Good Times,” which Ray Price took to No. 1 on the country charts and No. 11 on the pop charts in 1970, is appropriate after the 87-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member – regarded by many as country’s greatest voice – died Monday.
Kris Kristofferson, the man who penned that song – one of the masterworks of his catalogue of mostly melancholy classics – took some time out Tuesday at his home in Hawaii to reflect on the man who changed his life and influenced so many others.
“If there is a Country Music Mount Rushmore, Ray Price is up there with Hank Williams,” says Kristofferson, who had just gotten home from Florida – where he has been filming A Dolphin Tale 2 – when he was reached for comment.
Price, who had been fighting pancreatic cancer in a Tyler, Texas, hospital, left the hospital last Thursday (Dec. 12) and went home to live his final days under hospice care at his ranch near Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Tim Ghianni is a lifelong journalist and author in Middle Tennessee. He was a nationally honored columnist and editor at The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville for 14 years, at the Nashville Banner for its last 10 years of existence and then spent the final 10 years of his newspaper career at The Tennessean before being “bought out” in August of 2007. His newspaper years – which included encounters with murderers, mayors and movie stars, from James Earl Ray to O.J. Simpson and his friend Kris Kristofferson – are chronicled in his 2012 book “When Newspapers Mattered: The News Brothers & their Shades of Glory.” When John Seigenthaler hosted Ghianni for a Word on Words show about that book, he called it “an obituary on newspapers …. but it’s funny” (or words to that effect. ) Ghianni continues to write for local and national publications and for his They Call Me Flapjacks blog; he is also Tennessee and Kentucky correspondent for Reuters. His most recent book, “Shoebox Full of Toads: Farewell to Mom,” just published, chronicles his hours spent at his mother’s deathbed, telling her how she affected his life. A heartwarming, occasionally funny book, it is available for $25 – including shipping and handling — from Ghianni by writing him at 471 Rochelle Drive, Nashville, TN 37220.