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Clip: Johnny Bush writes his memoirs

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  • Carl Z.
    Bush remembers honky-tonk days, but he s not
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2007
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      <http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-0703120280mar14,1,831276.story?coll=chi-ent_music-hed>


      Bush remembers honky-tonk days, but he's not nostalgic

      By Jim Beal Jr
      San Antonio Express-News
      Published March 14, 2007

      SAN ANTONIO -- It was early afternoon. In a back booth at Casbeers,
      Johnny Bush drank water, passed on ordering food and said, "I just ate
      breakfast."

      Though he just celebrated his 72nd birthday, Bush is still a
      honky-tonk musician through-and-through.

      He has made some concessions to age: He no longer eats hamburgers, and
      he walks at least 2 miles a day.

      But he still works the road hard, still sleeps as late as he can and
      still eats breakfast around noon.

      Johnny Bush also still celebrates. Recently he has had two reasons to party.

      His autobiography, "Whiskey River (Take My Mind): The True Story of
      Texas Honky-Tonk," written with Rick Mitchell, is being published by
      University of Texas Press.

      A new CD, "Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul,"
      is being released by Ice House Music.

      Bush wanted the book published for several reasons.

      "I wanted people to know the real story of how it was," he said.
      "Honky-tonk originated before I was born, but after World War II it
      really got popular. I wanted to explain to people what a honky-tonk
      was. A honky-tonk wasn't a respectable place. It was on the outskirts
      of town, and you didn't want people to see you there. Men went there
      to forget somebody or to find somebody.

      "And I want people to know what it's like to deal with this
      debilitating voice problem [spasmodic dysphonia, which hit Bush on
      April 17, 1972]. It's a neurological disorder that affects the basal
      ganglia area of the brain. There's no cure for it, but you can control
      the effects."

      "Whiskey River" doesn't skirt many, if any, issues.

      It's full of stories, some funny, some not, about Bush; his peers,
      including Willie Nelson; his old boss, Ray Price; musicians galore;
      record-label honchos and others. It also includes words about things
      such as Bush's womanizing and his battle to regain his voice.

      "It's too late now to have second thoughts about the book," he said.
      ``But it's the truth. I tried to be honest, and I didn't sugarcoat a
      thing."

      Still, Bush is a bit nervous about how some people will react to the book.

      "My grandkids are going to read it, but hopefully they'll learn some
      lessons about what not to do. I made a lot of bad mistakes and hurt a
      lot of people. God has forgiven me, and I hope the people who I hurt
      have forgiven me," he said. "Some of the things still haunt me. I was
      selfish and controlling. My biggest regret was being promiscuous and
      being an adulterer. I could have copped out by saying that in our
      business that was accepted and encouraged, but when you start falling
      in love with the road women and leave your wife, it becomes a
      behavioral problem. I'm sorry I didn't take those marriage vows
      seriously."

      Since 1988, when he married his fourth wife, Lynda, Bush has paid
      close attention to those vows.

      "In my songs, I always tried to put myself in the position of the guy
      who was drinking and running around. I didn't know at the time I was
      that guy,"he said. "I feel I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have
      the family I have. I'm thankful to God that, so far, it's turned out
      good."

      What Bush can never leave behind is ribbing from Nelson. Bush and the
      redheaded country music icon go back decades. Nelson has recorded
      Bush's "Whiskey River" dozens of times, Bush played drums in Nelson's
      band, Nelson produced Bush's first record and Nelson wrote the
      foreword to the book.

      "I have no idea what I said in the foreword," Nelson said. "But I
      think the book will be interesting. If anybody were going to tell the
      true story of honky-tonks in Texas, it would be Johnny."

      Nelson doesn't seem to be too worried about everything in Bush's book
      being the truth.

      "He's kinda like Ray Price," Nelson said.

      "You can always tell when he's lying: His lips are moving."
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