It’s hard to peg a double Hall Of Famer as underappreciated, but when taking in the whole of Mac Wiseman’s accomplishments within the context of his remarkable life story, words such as “legend,” “pioneer,” and “trailblazer” seem accurate but lacking. A leading figure in the early days of both country and bluegrass genres, he was a founding member of both the CMA and IBMA and is an inductee of their respective Halls Of Fame. His music has also stretched to such realms as folk, rockabilly, and even hip-hop (remember groovegrass?). But Wiseman is so much more than a transcendent musical figure. In addition to his successes on and off stage, Mac Wiseman’s story is purely American. The circumstances framing his accomplishments make the picture of his life even more remarkable and beautiful. The album I Sang The Song: Life Of The Voice With A Heart does just that. It paints a musical portrait of Mac Wiseman through songs based on his life, and the voices of those whose own lives were changed by hearing the Voice With A Heart.
The concept of telling Mac’s story through song grew as natural as the wheat at the Wiseman family farm when Mac was a child. “I don’t know who had the basic idea,” says Mac. “I thought it was very practical when I heard it, and very unique.” Nashville mainstay and Wiseman confidante Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz (a German-born guitar phenom) began spending Sundays with their hero and friend, Mac Wiseman. “It started by us coming by on Sunday afternoons and hanging out,” says Cooper. What began as social visits filled with precious stories from Wiseman ended up taking a unique turn. Peter and Thomm noticed that everything about these tales were special; from what Mac had to say to how he said it, this was something to be treasured.
“Mac was telling a story, ‘Oh, I’d have to run the cows out, and I’d stand there where they’d been a layin’. We’d be barefoot until after the frost. Oh, I’d stand there, and my feet would be just as red as a gobbler’s snout,’” remembers Peter. He was blown away by the thought of standing on the grass where a cow had been lying in order to warm one’s feet—a depiction of a level of poverty incomprehensible to today’s generations. This, matched with phrases as colorful as “red as a gobbler’s snout,” appealed to Peter and Thomm, both songwriters but, more importantly, Mac Wiseman disciples. “I think around then was when we started thinking, ‘This is something to capture,’” Peter says. By using Mac’s own words, Peter and Thomm began constructing songs based off of these Sunday visits with Mac. Songs filled with lessons and imagery drawn from Mac’s life and own words. Songs that were purely Mac Wiseman. The aforementioned story became a song called ‘Barefoot ’Til After The Frost’ (performed on the new album by Jim Lauderdale), complete with the “gobbler’s snout” reference and all! Read entire article »