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After 22 years behind the mic for WSIX-FM’s wildly popular Gerry House and the House Foundation morning show, and nearly as many years writing songs for the likes of George Strait, Reba McEntire, and LeAnn Rimes, Gerry House has pretty much seen and heard it all from Nashville’s country music community.
He suffered a bleeding artery in his brain in 2003 but returned to work before retiring in 2010; at that point, he disbanded the show and decided to return to his first love: writing. Here, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame member tells us about his new book, Country Music Broke My Brain: A Behind-the-Microphone Peek at Nashville’s Famous and Fabulous Stars.
Nashville Lifestyles (NL): How’d you come to write this book?
Gerry House (GH): The hardest thing is just doing it. I’ve always been a writer, whether it’s music or scripts or jokes. A book is another animal. Mine is episodic, which is a fancy word for “I got no plot.” It’s a series of essays, stories, jokes, observations, and general takes on my life.
NL: Were there any stories you wanted to put in, about yourself or others, that you decided against, for whatever reason?
GH: I write about country music and Nashville and a lot of artists. I never wanted to be “that guy.” I didn’t want to write a book about my friends and then have to move to Peru. It’s not worth it. Many of the folks in the book are good, good friends of mine. I would never tell how Reba loves to pole dance at parties or that Martina McBride enjoys going to Starbucks and sneaking Jack Daniel’s into somebody’s latte.
NL: Would you be interested in doing radio as it is today if you were starting out again?
GH: I had just the best time for the last 20 years of doing a radio show. I laughed more and felt better than most people do in 10 lifetimes. I miss everyone I worked with. I do not miss getting up at 3:30 a.m. Nothing good happens at 3:30 in the morning.
NL: Was it hard to balance personal and professional confidences in your anecdotes?
GH: I have a hundred stories or incidents that didn’t make the book. Actually, the book was exactly like my radio show in that if I wouldn’t say it on the air, I didn’t write it in a book. I do hope that people who listened to me understand that the radio show was a different format. I actually tried to capture some of that thing we did on radio, but it’s impossible to translate that to print. The inflections, the pauses, the electricity of live radio [are] hard to get into the written word.
NL: Who got a first look at the book before it was published?
GH: My agent, a friend here and there, and my wife, Allyson, were sounding boards. My daughter, Autumn, is also a wise old soul about things. I can co-write a song, but I find writing [to be] a solitary existence. Since I’m a radio guy, I would go into the studio at my house and read the chapters out loud. Hearing them would give me a sense of how it would read. I would like to encourage people to buy the book and then go to public places and read it out loud. Everyone will love you for doing that.
Country Music Broke My Brain is available at gerryhouse.com.