One of the best-loved and most acclaimed radio personalities in country music history, Gerry House held court on Nashville’s WSIX-FM for 25 years with his Gerry House and the House Foundation morning show. He also found success as a songwriter in that time, with major hits such as “Little Rock” (Reba McEntire), “The Big One” (George Strait), and “The River and the Highway” (Pam Tillis).
As if that weren’t enough, House has also brought his distinctive comic sensibilities to television, penning jokes and scripts for the ACM Awards, the CMA Awards, the CMT Awards, and American Idol.
We caught up with Mr. House for a quick round of questions on the occasion of his recent book release, Country Music Broke My Brain.
One thing that set your show apart was that you prepared for it more like a comedy writer than like a guy who assumed he could be spontaneously interesting for hours each morning. For those of us who haven’t got around to trying yet, what’s it like to write 25 new jokes a day, every day, for decades? It seems impossible.
It’s not impossible. It’s discipline. Not all of them were gems to be sure.
Quite often great conversations came from the jokes. I would borrow something from a bit and introduce it live. A joke about Discount Dentures led to “How did you lose a front tooth?” One of the funnier conversations I ever had with people.
After so many years on the other side of the mic, do you still have the same passion for radio you had as a kid? Who do you listen to when you listen to radio now?
I don’t listen to a lot of radio these days. When I do, it’s usually XM’s Contemporary Jazz or Groove Soul.
While not exactly a tell-all, there are certain stories and opinions in the book that I imagine some artists might not be too thrilled to see in print. Like the bits about Chris Cagle’s ego and Martina McBride’s habit of trashing hotel rooms in fits of drunken rage. Are you just counting on the fact that nobody reads whole books anymore?
Of course, I’m joking. Chris is a sweet guy and Martina is one of my close friends. I kept the stories that might have hurt somebody’s feelings to myself.
Are you still writing songs?
Yes, I write by myself two days a week and with a co-writer about once a week. I have a lot of songwriters in my life and if we can stop from playing golf we will write.
Some people might not realize that you actually released two albums on MCA in the early ’90s. When will you get around to touring behind them and really making a go of your singing career? You could open for Rascal Flatts.
I did two comedy albums that went teflon. My singing career is not a threat to anybody but an audience. Rascal Flatts are friends of mine, but not THAT good of friends.
ME? Opening? Nobody wants that inflicted upon their fans.
How terrible is it being interviewed over and over again to promote something instead of being the person who interviews people to help them promote something?
I found the process interesting. I’ve been interviewed quite a lot over the years. I also find it tiring talking about yourself all the time. I always tried to answer honestly and with some kind of humor if I could. Live network television is so frantic you hardly have time to complete a thought.
Billed as a “behind-the-microphone peek at Nashville’s famous and fabulous stars,” Country Music Broke My Brain is available at Amazon or wherever fine books are sold.
For more information, visit countrymusicbrokemybrain.com.