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All I Have to Offer You Is Me


[MUSIC PLAYING] (SINGING) There’s a little bit of Charley in me. ’Cause I caught it on my voice off the radio in ’73. Guy with MCA Records said, “Hey, I think you could be a big star.” I said, “Oh, you think so?” (SINGING) There’s a little bit of Charley in me. I was 3 years old when I knew I wanted to be a cowboy. Everything just came natural to me. When I hit the ground, I ran toward a horse. [WHISTLING] My dad was a cowboy, and his dad was cowboy, and my uncles and cousins were cowboys. So everything I knew was cowboys. I picked up a guitar when I was 17, 18. I used to take my guitar out to places where there wasn’t nothing but cattle, and I’d sing to the cows, just like I used to see cowboys do on a cowboy movie. They thought I was kind of crazy all my life. I couldn’t even date a girl — if I turned the radio on country, they’d say, “What the heck are you listening to?” That happened to me. [LAUGHTER] MUSIC – CHARLEY PRIDE, “CRYSTAL CHANDELIERS”] (SINGING) There’ll be no mansions waiting on the hill or crystal chandeliers. And there’ll be — Charley Pride was my favorite. You know, he was a black guy singing country music. (SINGING) Everything I have is standing here in front of — I could identify with him. (SINGING) All I have to offer you is me. In East Bernard in the late ’60s, I went to see Charley Pride. And I think I was like 15, 16 years old. And when I got to the door, they said, we can’t let you in. We don’t want any racial problems. So I snuck back to my car, and I put the windows down. And I listened to Charley Pride through the window for about an hour. And my mom said, “Boy, I don’t ever want you going back to East Bernard.” Round in ’88 or ’89, I started playing and singing at that same place. My first time playing in front of a crowd was in this club in Houston. I had never been in front of a spotlight before. I felt like I wanted to melt. I started playing. Then all of a sudden, I lifted up out of my body. I was watching the crowd watch me play. And the girl said, “Shut up. He’s good.” You know, I could see everybody, everybody saying, “Be real quiet. He’s — He’s good.” That’s all I can remember was everybody saying, “Be quiet. He’s good.” They said, “And you could be the next Charley Pride.” Everybody told me that. In his Journal this evening, John Davenport visits with a hopeful performer who hopes to be among those country and western stars someday. 33-year-old Larry Callies of Houston is in the delivery business. He delivers mail and songs. I couldn’t admit it till about six years ago. From there, listening to Charley Pride, and to watch faces, and see me up there on stage and being surprised, a black guy to sing country western. I loved it. I got in this contest. “KILT’s Going to Make Me a Country Star.” I got up there and sang, ‘Is Anybody Going to San Antone?’ Guy saw me and he said, “Hey, man. We could put a band around you.” He said, “I can get you in touch with George Strait’s manager. You want to meet George Strait’s manager?” OK. He said, “Well, I want you to come to Nashville.” They flew me up there, put me in a limo. I went inside. And they said, “This is where you’re going to record.” He said, “Good luck, man. I’m pulling for you all the way.” When I got in the recording studio, I started singing. And the guy with MCA Records noticed something in my voice. So he said, “Oh, no, you’re just nervous, and we’ll get the nerves out.” They had a contract ready for me to sign. But after three demo songs, they said, “We don’t think we’re going to sign him because there’s something definitely wrong with his voice.” And they were right. I went to some specialist. He said, “You have something called vocal dysphonia.” And I knew that was that. In the old days, they burned the animals that died instead of burying them. Couple of weeks ago, I had a mule that passed away. And in her last days, I never asked her to do anything. Which way is the wind blowing? This a-way? You know, I just let her pass away in her old age. [FIRE IGNITES] [DOG BARKS] [FIRE CRACKLING] I could’ve had the county come out and bury her, but I wanted to do it like my dad used to do — cows that passed away. My dad taught me how to ride, how to rope, everything about cowboy life. I spent a lot of years not knowing what I wanted to do. Well I thought I was going to be the next Charley Pride. I thought I’d have a big house, and do this and do that. Now I see it’s not about money. Now I like who I am. I know who I am. Can you tell me where the name “cowboy” came from? They came from slaves. Because they had a houseboy, they had a yard boy, and somebody worked the cows. He was called a cowboy. I’m old enough to be in my own museum. Back in 1971, Larry Callies, Hungerford, Texas. My cousin, Tex, he won it in 1967. And he won it in ’68. This is him at Wharton. That’s my dad in the back. I guy named Bailey’s Prairie Kid, he was flashy. And he got a name, boy. He would — I mean people used to gather around him. I think I learned a little bit from him. [LAUGHS] This, what I’m doing with the museum, it’s not about money. The black cowboys didn’t get any recognition from the beginning. So I wanted people to know who they were. I just want to leave a memory on people. Thank you for everything. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. Wish you many, many blessings. Appreciate it. Thank you. [BELL DINGS] Nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever. So I’m just going to make it last as long as I can. OK. [STRUMMING GUITAR] (SINGING) I’m just an old lonely cowboy in this world, thinking about my favorite girl. Thinking about all the flowers, and the birds and the horses in the world. I’m an old lonely cowboy down in Wharton, Texas, sitting on my dad’s old porch, picking my guitar and just thinking about the world.


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