Since returning to the Chattanooga area -- he's from South Pittsburg -- to recuperate from a mysterious illness, Jim Moore has learned to appreciate life and everything that goes with it.
As lead singer and songwriter for The Animal Band for more than two decades, he was already a pretty positive guy, as his music will attest. The group sold out shows around the world, including a five-concert stretch at the Grand Ole Opry, by playing high-energy, family-oriented music with songs like "911" and "Are We There Yet?"
Over that time, they also did an annual Christmas show around original songs Moore wrote based on his own childhood memories of what Christmas meant to him. He said this week the birth of his granddaughter helped heal whatever was ailing him, and over the past several months he has felt compelled to record those Christmas songs. The result is "Jungle All the Way," the first Animal Band studio CD since 2003.
"I tried a couple times before, but it didn't work," he said of producing the band's first holiday collection. "I went back and pulled the tracks we had. We could use some, and some we started over. The big thing was to see if I could still do it. Can I still inspire people? They are personal tunes that really happened."
"On Our Christmas Tree," for example, tells the meaning behind each ornament on the family tree.
Moore is offering the CD as a fundraiser to schools and has already sent information packets to schools in 25 states.
"I got my joy back, and I'm so thankful to be here."
You can find the individual songs or the CD online.
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My Facebook page lit up last week at the news of Joe South's passing. For East Brainerd resident Jerry Meaders, the news was especially sad. The two met in the late '70s when Meaders moved to Atlanta to join the Bill Lowery Music Group, and South was assigned to produce his music. They became good friends and wrote many songs together.
"He became like a brother to me," Meaders said.
After Meaders moved to Chattanooga to work for Eli Lilly and Company, South would travel here and they would write together. In 1987, they were sitting on the Walnut Street Bridge when Meaders said, "You know, old bridges really burn slow don't they?"
"They were thinking about tearing it down at the time," Meaders said.
"Joe looked down and said, 'Yeah, and still waters run deep.' "
They wrote "Old Bridges Burn Slow" around those two lines, and it became a No. 1 hit for Billy Joe Royal.
Meaders said the two wrote and made demos of eight more songs during that session, and Meaders has since had them copyrighted through Sony and hopes to find an artist interested in them.
South also wrote "Rose Garden," a No. 1 hit for Lynn Anderson, "Hush," done by Deep Purple, "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," which Elvis Presley recorded, and "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?" which several people have done.
"He had the ability to turn an ordinary song into a smash hit."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...