Travis Tritt showed that every meaningful funeral features moments of laughter, candor, melancholy and grief.
It was all on display last summer. The country music eulogized Charlie Daniels on a Friday morning at a church a 45-minute drive from Nashville, then laid the 83-year-old fiddle player to rest.
Travis Tritt walked onto the stage of the World Outreach Center. He was carrying his guitar. Before he started his hymn, he wanted to offer some words about one of his long-time friends.
“He was never judgmental or preachy about his beliefs,” Travis Tritt said of Daniels. “If you believed differently than he did, that was OK. But he wasn’t ashamed to tell you at any given time how much he loved the Lord.”
Tritt added, “I have no doubt that if there’s any person that I’ve ever met that heard the words ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant,’ it was Charlie Daniels this past Monday.”
Travis Tritt Sang “Amazing Grace” And Told Charlie Daniels Stories
Then, Travis Tritt sang the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.” It was a bluesy, country rendition of how man realized grace and the way to salvation. Tritt’s performance struck just the right chord at a funeral for a pillar in the country community.
Listen to Travis Tritt and then come back for some more details on Daniels’ funeral, which featured a significant lineup of country musicians, singing and playing to give their friend the best sort of send-off. Plus, we’ll tell you why Travis Tritt stuck a piece of gum in his mouth to honor his friend.
Charlie Daniels died on a Monday, two days after the Fourth of July. He was both religious and patriotic and didn’t mind telling anyone about his beliefs. Travis Tritt made sure that those at the funeral knew that while Daniels was opinionated, he respected yours, too, if it happened to be different.
How do you eulogize a legend? You invite his friends to tell stories and sing songs.
Travis Tritt sang Amazing Grace, asking the audience to join him on the final verse. Gretchen Wilson performed “I’ll Fly Away.” Trace Adkins sang “Arlington.” Vince Gill brought the audience to tears by combining his own “Go Rest High on That Mountain” with “America the Beautiful.”
Singers like Travis Tritt and Gill performed on the stage. Daniels’ casket was in front of the stage. It was decorated with sprays of red roses. Plus, Daniels’ family placed meaningful items around the casket — his fiddle, white boots, belt buckle and a Bible with his Les Paul electric guitar.
Travis Tritt drew laughter when he recalled one of his favorite Daniels stories. He pulled a piece of gum out of his pocket, folded it into quarters, then stuck it in his mouth. Tritt said Daniels told him “Try it son, you’ll love it.”
So What’s The Back Story On The Gum? Charlie Daniels Jr. Explained It
What was the back story behind the gum told by Travis Tritt? If you go watch videos of Charlie Daniels, he always is chewing at least one stick.
Charlie Daniels Jr., answered the question a few weeks after his Dad died. And, he apologized because his Dad hated tardiness, for not getting back to the fans more quickly with the answer.
Charlie Jr. wrote: “If you ever saw dad perform, you might have noticed that dad chewed gum constantly. I even saw a perfectly timed shot of him singing with his mouth wide open, and the gum was visible! He was often seen chomping away at press conferences, concerts, you name it.
“So why did he chew gum all the time? It’s pretty simple, to keep his mouth from drying out while he was singing or speaking, giving interviews, etc. It may not have been the most subtle or “couth” way to keep your mouth from drying out, but it worked for him.”
As Travis Tritt and others mentioned, Charlie Daniels’ music and his character will be missed by many. It’s difficult to replace such a legend.